This blog is my version of the city, trying to create an analogy in between my routine.
New to the city, I try to identify the familiarity of the city through self-generated landmarks. One of which is the road with a blue tadpatri (tarpaulin sheet). It is difficult to identify the correct by-lane to get into as the entire stretch looks similar. On getting close, one can identify that there are further entry and exits created in between the fabric. This fabric like structure is an enclosure on the footpath created by the roadside vendors. The relationship between the road to the footpath and to the by lanes are like different zones. Each zone has a distinct spatiality. The tadpatri tunnel is relieving in the heat or rains but gets chaotic in the evening. The honking from the main road gets transformed to the vendors call "Ekthu Dekhun". The honking is to push me away while the call is to grab my attention. Two very contrasting parallels co-exist.
Illustration showing a busy character of Gariahat Market, Kolkata
(Illustrations by Harsh Dobariya)
This space challenges the idea of footpath which conventionally is an open freeway for the ease of pedestrian navigation. Here, the functions get hybrid as the enclosure has random stalls on one side and the structured shop fronts on the other but is programmed to be a constant pedestrian walkway. While on the walkway, one cannot miss the market which serves to shop for the daily needs, home necessities or junk shopping. The display of commodities by vendors helps you remember if you have to buy something for home or for someone. This unavoidable linear market space is at the customers ease, gains customer satisfaction, and serves as the financial gain for vendors and the shopkeepers. While navigating through one cannot miss the group of men playing cards after a hard day at work in a niche on the same congested street. Few of them would stop by for an evening "Chai" and catch up with other colleagues over a paper bag full of "Murri". The walkway gets a breather where it suddenly opens up to these Mehndi (henna tattoo) applying station. Few enthusiasts would stop by to apply mehndi siting on a stool enjoying the busy street view. One would hear “Dada tadatadi!!” as she has to run to catch the bus passing by without missing the “Murri” for the way. These layers of character keep adding on making it an experience. It engages you deeply and plays with your perception of time.
The conclusion is intriguing as without any formula or a structured knowledge of any parameters, the street designs itself to cater to the urbanites. As Architects, one would question how a self-generated public space effortlessly allows the relationship that an urban city needs.
Hence while penning down these observations I tell myself "Eta Ki! “
A practicing architect in Kolkata, the author is an amateur blogger always looking for inspiration and eager to learn how a city interacts with each one of us.