Down Memory Lane Traveller's Diary

Memories of Durgapur

Our member Ms I. Goswami, had gone to Durgapur after her marriage. She speaks about her life from unfamiliarity to a wondrous time spent there.

Many years ago, I stepped out of the Black Diamond Express and looked around at the busy platform of Durgapur Station. Newly married, very young, perhaps a bit nervous at the prospect of entering an unfamiliar phase of life. There was eager anticipation too. At that time Durgapur was considered to be a part of future India. The recent set up modern steel plants attracted brilliant engineers from all over the country. Everything looked full of promise.

From technology to romance, the latest film songs in the lips of the young generation, where Uttam Kumar and Madhabi Mukherjee played their romantic best. And helping them to create the right atmosphere was the vast backdrop of Durgapur Barrage. That too was in my mind when I set off.

Unfortunately, something very unromantic happened as we left the station. Much to the embarrassment of my husband, the car developed some problem. While the vehicle was being attended to, I walked around. It had stopped raining some time ago. Above me there was a rain washed bright blue sky. The flame red blossoms of Gulmohar trees stretching across both the sides of the road offered me a colourful welcome.

Remarkably as I look back, flowers played a silent, but very important part in my regrettably short stay in Durgapur. Bungalows had gardens in front and back separated from each other by Mehendi hedges. A pollution free climate encouraged abundant growth of seasonal flowers, roses and also vegetables. Officers were transferred or promoted, so the next occupant automatically “inherited” the garden, adding saplings of his own choice. Speaking of “inheritance” I had two very unique and pleasant experiences in this regard. In our Short Road bungalow, I came across so many varieties of “Bel” flowers- their shapes, their sizes and the subtle differences in their smells- I have never come across in my entire life. In the evenings- specially during monsoons- the surrounding area was wrapped in the mist of divine purity. Another “inheritance”- that also a first and last experience in my life- a climbing green chilly plant. It made a beautiful and natural decoration just outside my glass window.

The Short Road area was originally developed for the British technicians who came to assist in the setting up of plants. It consisted of a cluster of small lanes. Their uniqueness was that each lane had a particular tree lining both sides. Mine had Casuarina- the next Neem- the next one Gulmohar.

Benachity was the marketplace for essential household items- fish, meat, vegetables, fruits. For other purposes- clothes, utensils, ornaments, fancy gadgets- it had to be the Steel Market. The number of shops were few, but no one complained. Perhaps people were easily satisfied for some people like me the proximity of Kolkata was always there.

Originally Durgapur developed around the steel plants and some Government or private organisations. Each had its own township- its distinctive layout. Separating each development large pockets were left at their original natural state- full of majestic “Saal” trees. Passing through, one could catch glimpses of local cowherds resting under a tree- the cows grazing lazily.

It was an easy, relaxed pace of life. The factory buses plied at fixed times- picking up and dropping workers. School buses were there for children and teachers- that too at fixed timings. At evenings children played outside the bungalows.

Modern Durgapur boasts of shopping malls, super speciality hospitals, advanced schools and colleges. That is normal and desirable. I hope and wish that like me- when people look back- they would have as many precious memories as me. Also like me, they would talk about the wonderful way of life, that they enjoyed in Durgapur.

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