A Tram Story – Kolkata Will Miss It’s Beloved Companion From 1873
Iron tramways crisscrossed the city with bustling sound and sweet ringing bells that break your imagination in a tweak – our companion from childhood will soon leave us after a friendship of 143 years. There is a quiet but determined step to do away with whatever is left of the tram services.
Inheriting from a small town like Burnpur, trams, ferry, hand pull rickshaws are some of the fascination I grew up with. When I first set my foot in Howrah station with my parents who were so anxious how can I manage in Kolkata, was thrilled to visit the city for the first time in my life. I still remember my first day at RK Swamy BBDO, Kolkata where I enrolled for an internship after my masters. Park Circus 7 Point is very busy road till date and being a newcomer in the city, I was flabbergasted and confused how to reach Gariahat. Suddenly a tram emerged to my dismay and I ran hoping to reach at least to Gariahat. The conductor in Khaki uniform asked very politely, “Where do you wanna go, beta?”, and for the first time in my 5 days stay in Kolkata, I received a humble gesture from an unknown face.
The distance between Park Circus to Ballygunge was not too far but I always took the tram as it gave me a belongingness, a tender feeling of home away from home. I always observed the tired travellers, school students, love birds and aunties chattering about their life, future, study, food and much more. Somehow, I fall in love with the city as it actually relates my endeavor for building an identity for myself.
This city also witnessed my first heartbreak! With a broken heart, one day I left the house with just Rs. 110 in the pocket and didn’t know where to go. I took a metro and found myself at the tram depot of Esplanade. Without giving much thought, I took a tram and sat at the corner of a bench with shallow eyes. When the tram crossed the Shyambazar more and about to stop at Hatibagan, the conductor politely asked me, “Your destination has arrived. Be careful while crossing the signal”. Suddenly, I came back to reality and pushed myself out on the road. I realised for the first time, what is the use of lamenting when the city is waiting with so much to offer. That day, I reached my house at 6PM with 2 beautiful earrings and a flower-vase which I still possess.
Meanwhile, I made so many friends, became more strong in achieving my goals and learned to become happy. And when I heard about the sad incident of banning Tram services, it came to me as a shock. Previously, many tram routes are closed due to construction or accidents. The transport department also has sold the Tollygunj tram depot on 244 Katha of land to a real estate agency for Rs. 181 crore. Belgachhia tram depot in the northern part of the city is all set to be leased out to another private agency soon. The transport department has already floated a tender in this regard.
Soon, we will see the trams in the museum and tell stories to our children and juniors about this princely journey we took long days back. Saying goodbye to tramcars might not be easy and we miss terribly those nonsense chattering on the last seat, the sunset of Chitpur or enjoying the maddening crowd of Shyambazar. Stay Happy my companion. We will miss you!