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Written by Anando   



It wasn't so far away a time that distant memories turned into weak dreams. I can still remember cycling down my lane Sunday mornings with a gang of Bengali friends and smelling the whispering beautiful odours of luchi and aaloor dom . We knew what was waiting for us as soon as we reached home yet we played on like the street kings that we were . Racing past inconspicuous  homes with tunnel visions in our eyes and strength in our hearts.  Soon it was time for lunch and a cacophony of Bengali voices called their trouble makers back home. We begged on to stay yet our tongue and heart spoke otherwise . We called it a day till we met again in a couple of hours regenerated with vigour because of belly full of food.

Now 15 years too short I stand outside on the balcony of the same house and I cannot recognise the people or the homes they dwell in. A group of children playing cricket in the park in front of my home which we once ruled but the language is neither Bengali nor English, its Hindi filled with Punjabi expletives. My dog and I sit and watch while she fails to understand the reason for my melancholy , I just bite my lips and get myself a beer to stay in regressive nostalgia . Regressive I say, because one must move with the times. Nostalgia it is, a very basic form of human emotion which gives us both pain and hope.

Chittaranjan park which once was known as E.P.D.P (East Pakistan Displaced Persons Colony)  and later renamed after the deshbandhu (patriot) Chittaranjan Das in the 1980s is where I was born. When I was born and in the late 80s and early 90s it was scoffed at as a Bengali's bastion and we Bengali's were pretty happy keeping it that way but as all things come to an end, the evil of greed fell badly on everyone who lived here. The once not so posh colony, because of its central location , festivities and events , low crime , greenery amongst other things became posh and land prices soared. Many bengali's who inherited the property from their parents found this to be a wonderful and easy way of making a lot of quick money. They sold of their properties to the highest bidding builder , took the cash and started to living happily with a bank account full of money someplace else.

This obviously bought in a diasporas of new people who could actually afford homes at the new rates. Soon the tiny one floored homes filled with red little clay pots and small little walls got replaced with towering buildings made of glass and brick with huge silver name plates and angry looking guards. The same trees shed their beautiful wall of yellow leaves , shimmering in the light of the sun but the shades are different now for the houses of changed and so have the inhabitants. Walking down to the market when I used to recognise every face with a smile is now replaced with question marks and questions about who I am . That's ironical considering my family has lived here for 45 years and the question should be asked from my side.

Small issues of parking which were dealt over tea and samosas in the morning with neighbours saying "dada gaari ta ektu aage park karoon" now has been replaced with arguments of highest decibels followed by the police showing up shaking their heads as to why they have to come every day for parking problems. There were definitely those screeching aunties who would shout at the tiniest things but never would iron rods come out or police be called. Such things were unheard of.

Durga Puja , our biggest festival was such a rage for us that we would start shopping at least one month prior the event. Everyone got together for those 4 days and partied as much as one could and by the 5th day it was absolute forlorn as Ma Durga left for a year and the wait seemed too long.  Durga Puja pandals were cosy little affairs with beautiful idols, friendly neighbours, colony children playing, local bands singing and Bengali street food. Now it's item numbers, large corporate companies and a million people jostling to see that tamasha. We are victims of our own success if not pride. Seems everyone wanted a piece of the cosy pie and the pie went stale.

Some of us are still remaining back here like ghosts from a lost era, for how long is a question only time and destiny will tell  because what made this ours is not ours anymore. Memories will stay , the colony will not . Maybe we can make another bastion someday , someplace , somehow.

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