Kolkata – from being the colonial capital of the British Raj to becoming ‘The City Of Joy’, the city had gone through a lot of changes from its pre-independence to the post-independence era.
But then again, the city’s rebirth to re-establish itself on the world map with a new name and a new tag, Biswa Bangla, has been even more exemplary.
With two decades of the 21st century ending soon, it’s time this north Kolkata boy points out the changes his city has gone through in the last two decades.
1. Calcutta To Kolkata
As if to foreshadow the changes this city will oversee in the 21st century- on its first day, i.e. 1st January 2001, the city got renamed from Calcutta to Kolkata.
Thus began the journey of an openness-loving, loiterer-friendly Bengali-European-styled city with an added flavour of warmth and love.
2. Red To Green
Change or as we call it ‘poriborton’ is what Kolkata has been about in these last two decades, especially in the political scenario. From red to green, Left government to Trinamul Government, Kaste-haturi to Jora-phool, Bhattacharjee to Banerjee – Kolkata has seen it all.
2000 started off with the Left party rule over Bengal. In the 2011 Assembly Elections, Mamata Banerjee was elected as the Chief Minister of West Bengal, ending the record-breaking term of 34 years of rule of the communist party.
3. Bandhs To Hok Kolorob
Kolkata has always been a place of emotion, love, and protest. Be it the fight for independence, or the Naxalite movement post-independence, Kolkata has been the heart of all revolutionary movements.
While Kolkata’s first decade of the 2000s was riddled with bandhs, the second saw an uproar that changed the meaning of student protest in every way.
Protesting against the laxity in the investigation of a campus molestation incident followed by police brutality, Kolkata saw a 30,000-student-strong peaceful student rally in September 2014. Their demands were met with the change in university administration.
The four-month-long protest saw a large work of posters, graffiti, poems, songs, slogans, street plays and performances with chants of ‘Hok Kolorob’, which meant ‘let there be noise’.
4. Double-Decker Bus To AC Volvo
The declining structure of Kolkata’s iconic red Double-Decker CTC bus met its end in the early years of the 21st century. What followed was the introduction of Volvo buses and AC buses that took the icon’s place on the road.
5. Black And Yellow Taxi To Yellow Cabs
Taxi has always been the heart of the transport system of Kolkata.
While in the first decade it started off with the colours and black and yellow, it smoothly transitioned to a bright yellow in the next. Oh, the city got introduced to AC cabs as well!
6. Hand-Pulled Rickshaw To Toto And CNG Auto
Though a bit barbaric, hand-pulled rickshaw has always been an iconic feature in Kolkata roads.
With changing times, hand-pulled rickshaws are a rare sight these days with CNG auto and totos taking its place as a faster mode of transport.
7. Tram- A Daily Commute To A Museum
What once played an integral role in an office-going Bengali’s everyday life, has almost come to its struggling end days.
Hoping to keep its heritage alive, the government has replaced the old rakes with more comfortable newer trams. Yet, what was once the old generation’s everyday transport is now the present generation’s joyride or a visit to the museum.
8. Bangaliana To London’s Big Ben
With the change in government, Kolkata went through a city-wide change in terms of beautification to be more ‘London like’.
What once held the nostalgia, memories, and warmth of an old city, got reshaped with riverfront beautification and installation of London’s Big Ben’s replica.
Sadly, what didn’t change is the condition of the roads when it rains heavily. Or perhaps it is the city deciding to be more ‘Venice like’ instead. Cheeky!
The city has gone through its highs and its lows but has preferred to stay together, always. Home to people from diverse communities, religions, and regions- the City of Joy is rich in culture, heritage, and history.
Known for being the city of paradoxes, even at changing times, its people prefer to live in the nostalgic past of warmth, love, and care. And even after its million changes, like before, the city still makes its guests fall in love.
“Dil Ka Bazaar Hai, Thoda Bizzar Hai,
Kolkata Khwaishon Armaano Ka Achaar Hai,
Jitne Bhi Door Jaao, Dil Se Na Far Hai,
Kolkata Dekho Toh Baanki Duniya Bekaar Hai,
Strong Hai Powerful Hai Phir Bhi Laachar Hai!
Bilkul Naya Hai Phir Bhi Beete Kal Mein Giraftaar Hai.
Kolkata, You Sexy!”
Image Credits: Google Images, Instagram.
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