Kolkata: Travelling on a slow paced tram, journeying through various parts of the city, does have a vintage appeal. Now, add to that, reading poetry on trams? Well, it does have subtle romantic feel to it – reading poems, as you travel at pace, that definitely give a flight to your fantasy. While, poetry on wheels, have been in vogue in Hong Kong, since 2013, Kolkata, the city of love, is giving a slice of this surreal experience to the romantics of the city.
“Last week we got invited as a participant to this amazing movement organized and initiated by CIMA AWARDS, The Kolkata Art Festival 2017 in association with Chitrabani (film and media institute), as a collateral partner. It has a series of event related to poetry, photography, cinema, the city of Calcutta and its heritage being organized all through the Festival month, that is from 6th February to 4th March 2017. And Poetry on Wheels, is one such event, where we read out poetry on tramcars,” shared Sufia Khatoon, a participating poet and co-founder of Rhythm Divine, a poetry lovers club in the city.
As the tram, specially provided by the Calcutta Tramways Company Limited, trudges through the busy and sometimes narrow lanes of the city curious onlookers and poetry enthusiasts alike board it at various stoppages, free of cost. On board is a visual treat. The tram, christened ‘Bioscope’, is decorated with legendary filmmaker and Oscar winner Satyajit Ray’s film posters. And, forget not, Bioscope, is the very tramcar, on which Shah Rukh Khan shot O go Bideshini, a video, especially designed for Bengal tourism. Needless, to say, the magical video was a huge hit, especially the tramcar part.
Sharing the details of this venture Nilanjan Sandilya, joint managing director, West Bengal Transport Corporation, said, “Trams are synonymous with Kolkata’s identity. Since, we Bengalis have a deep relation with culture and history, we have special trams dedicated to stalwarts like Rabindranath Tagore, poet Jibanananda Das, Mother Terese, Ma Sarada among others. We introduced’ Bioscope’ last year as a tribute to Indian cinema, which has a strong connect with huge association with films. The first Bengali film, Jamai Babu, also figures prominently on this tram. We have another tram that is dedicated entirely to Gitanjali,Tagore’s book of poems, for which he won the Nobel prize. His other important book of poems, Balaka, is displayed in another tram. So yes, you can say that the Calcutta Tramways, does have a strong connect with poetry.”
Tourists and poets enjoying a poetry session on tram
Talking about this venture Madhusree Mukherjee, Public Relations and Programmes Officer of Chitrabani, said, “This is the first time for us to promote various art forms in such a manner. We are trying to create an alternate space for art, that includes poetry, songs and theatre. Needless to say, there has been an overwhelming response.”
Urvashi Mukherjee, a young participating poet, who is also student of St Xavier’s College, is thrilled to be part of this venture. “Kolkata is deeply rooted in heritage and culture. We love our art forms. And we want to promote the tram as the most environment friendly mode of transport. It is non polluting and we need more and more people to use it to commute daily,” she said.
Keeping, into account, Kolkata’s passion for romance, poetry and trams, this unique, promotion of both poetry and tramcars, for sure is going to attract travellers. And if, just poems and heritage trams doesn’t push you to hop on to it, then remember, right from Kareena to Shah Rukh Khan, all have hopped on to get romantic on it.
For no vehicle guarantees you romance like tram does, amid the cacophony of a metro city. So, are you game for a ride on a tram that SRK rode?