Sunday Post

This Durga Puja, keep pace with a fading legacy

That day is not far off when a Bengali babu will no more get the chance to shout out “taxi” in the middle of a Kolkata street to make a yellow-coloured Ambassador car come to a stop to ferry him to his destination, thanks to the advent of app-based cab services. And to make things ‘worse’, even Hind Motors has stopped its production of the famous yellow ambassador taxis.

Remember those days when you were working late in office and had to visit Chutki’s biyebari (marriage ceremony)? And just a shrill shout of “taxi” was all that it took you to be a there before the last batch sat for dinner. Or your first date which was successful with the visit to Victoria Memorial in that yellow cab with your love sitting beside you. 

In short, just like any other nostalgia, the yellow cab will soon walk into oblivion and become a thing of yesteryears after the last batch of cars complete their 15 years’ run.

But hang on! Beliaghata 33 Pally Bashi Brinda has good news for you. The puja committee this year has decided to pay a tribute to the yellow cabs that have been a part of the city for a good 110 years. Yes, this year you can again have a chance to ‘ride’ the quintessential yellow cab.

The pandal has been made out of several parts of the yellow-coloured taxis which were procured from a vehicle market in Mullick Bazaar by the committee. In total, 22 such yellow Ambassador cabs were bought, five of which throng the top portion of the sanctum sanctorum which will give you a feeling that these cabs are coming at you.

Talking to the famous artist, Shibsankar Das, who ideated the entire concept, it became clearer as to wherefrom did this unique idea appear to him. “I had once been to a scrap factory where I saw our nostalgic yellow taxis being reduced to mere blocks of scrap. It immediately struck me that something should be done about it,” said Das.

Elaborating more on this, Das added: “Through this theme I wanted to bring alive the mixed feelings of a person after experiencing a traffic snarl in the city. 

While in the jam himself, he feels disgusted but the next moment when he comes back and sees that in television, the innumerable yellow hoods of the taxis and the lights create a beautiful picture and mesmerises him. I have tried to bring this feeling alive.”

Remember pulling the yellow doors of a taxi? Well, the puja committee has that too ready. 

Just that this time you don’t have to pull the door; instead, you can simply walk through a gate made out of 300 taxi doors. In addition to this, the pandal has been decorated with all sorts of things made out of parts of the cabs. Watch out for that bee made out of silencer pipes of the Ambassadors and if that is not all then there is one more thing that is bound to grab your attention. 

In this pandal, the idol sits on a taxi itself. Naming the theme Maayer Ashirbad (the Goddess’ grace), the puja committee has, however, been cautious enough not to overdo things. 

“We have kept the idol as simple as possible because we do not want a devotee who comes to pay obeisance to the goddess be driven away by the grandeur,” says Parimal De, president of the puja committee.

“We wanted to bring to the notice of Kolkatans that the taxi, like any other nostalgia, has been an integral part of the city. It is, in our own humble way, a tribute to the cabs which are on their way to extinction now,” added De. 
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