Not many days ago, a colleague who takes an auto from Ultadanga to Sovabazar to come to office had to wait to wait for more than 10 minutes before she could get one. It was unusual as Ultadanga is such a place where one never has to wait for autos towards Sovabazar. Finally, an auto driver asked her whether it would be all right if she is dropped not exactly at Sovabazar Metro stop but somewhere near it. She readily agreed and took the seat next to the driver’s. The three occupants on the backseat were headed towards Sonagachi while the other two crammed in front belonged to Nimtola. No auto was plying from Ultadanga to the Sovabazar and Ahiritola ghat as one of their colleagues had died in an accident a day before. Scared that others might stop him, he took a route through the narrow lanes near Gouribari. And, soon lost his way. All the passengers became advisors instantly and the situation got worse. The confused auto driver then took whatever lane he could and tried to come out on the main road. And all this maneuvering took 45 minutes. The route is usually covered in 15 minutes. The auto went on from one lane to another. At some places, one of the passenger had to get down to clear the path as women squatted there washing utensils and men sat stitching quilts. In those 45 minutes, while the radio played old songs like Yeh Raat Bheegi Bheegi by Manna Dey and Lata Mangeskar, old discolored yet charming buildings in North Kolkata gullies revealed themselves. The 45-minute journey became more of a heritage tour. The auto dropped the colleague near Jaipuria College and sped towards Sonagachi.
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