This blog is my version of the city after moving into the city of joy, Kolkata.
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, we can identify that there are further entry and exit points 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 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.
This space challenges the idea of the 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 planned shop fronts on the other at the same time it serves as a pedestrian walkway. This by default is a public space where the customers are walking towards their destination. While on the way one cannot miss the market filled serving the shopping the daily needs, home necessities or junk shopping. This unavoidable linear market space is at the customers ease, customer satisfaction, and serves as the financial gain for vendors. The street interaction with the pedestrian is very talkative. Group of the men after a hard day at work find a niche on the same street and set up a temporary table to play card games. Few ladies would stop by to apply mehendi sitting on a stool enjoying the street view. Few of them would stop by for evening “Chai” and catch up with other colleagues over a paper bag full of “Murri”.
Without any formula or a structured knowledge of any parameters, the street designs itself to cater to the various 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”.
Written by: Margi Gohil