Thursday, December 03, 2009

Aslam - Garage Boy

In Calcutta, the number of unorganized car repairing shops, or better known as garages are much higher than any other Metros, and at the same time, the number of authorised serviced centres are much less. Like any normal child, I was always fascinated with the cars, and in fact my father’s hobby was repairing cars. We used to get many cars to repair, and when I turned even ten, I was able to dismantle and assemble the complete engine of Ambassadors and Landmasters.

However, with modern cars with no carburettors and with MPFI engines, and also with no differential at back (Recent Sedans are fitted with front wheel drive), both of us are helpless but to take the help of other “garages”.
Last month, I decided to take my car for a minor repair to an unorganized garage near Eastern By-pass. They are actually from Garpar but evacuated due to new high-rise building coming there. I came across a boy called Aslam, and was quite amazed to see his skill while dealing with “malik” and the car. Aslam is getting trained by different Dadas on various interesting aspects of engineering and life.

A few shot of Aslam, his workplace environment and a few Dadas.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Band Party

In Calcutta a band party is better known as a Tasha party. It is a proper noun used for musical groups who perform in various social gathering with instruments like drums, trumpets, saxophones, clarinets etc. The tradition of having a Band-party for happy occasions started as early as the 18th century. The tradition continued till the late 70's and started decaying thereafter.
They were mostly invited during marriages, welcome ceremony, house warming party etc. The business of these bands started fading due to entry of tape recorder in early 80's and later for CDs, pen drives etc. as it is much cheaper to play Bollywood music over CDs and MP3s than hiring a band.
Traditionally members of each band wear a unique decoration with different colours of jackets, caps and trousers. Main colours for the dress materials are Red, Blue, White, Green, and Purple with golden or silver craft over it. Even during summers the dress code remains the same though performers sweat profoundly. It is interesting here to note that Calcutta, experiences almost 100% humidity and 40 deg Celsius temperature in summer.
Band members usually play standing and most of the time move with people if there is any procession. They don't sing rather there are no vocal performances. They are paid very poor and the condition seems to worsen with the business itself receding.
Most bands are located near Central Calcutta's Mahatma Gandhi Road, College Street, and Presidency college area. During or just before performances, members of the band consume cheap alcohol or other intoxicating agents which zeal of which warm there drums with fire. The instruments are generally very cheap and old.
Till the 70's, these Calcutta bands were extremely famous throughout India, and used to travel extensively. One could find them in any marriage, and during the wedding-season, the rates skyrocketed. The quality of performances was also better. Couples got married till 70s used to take great care in selecting the band party, and still happen to cherish those melodious memories.
Famous bands like Mehboob Band (106, Mahatma Gandhi Road, Kolkata, West Bengal 700007. Phone no: +91 33 22419686‎, +919331990115, +919831038535, +919831516001, +91 33 22417522‎) still exist, but we don't know how long !