A rainy day email from late 90s

Familiar Scenario during Rains at Kolkata

Familiar Scenario during Rains at Kolkata

The Late nineties saw some serious changes in the present Capital of West Bengal.  To start with its name changed from Calcutta to Kolkata. Cell phones came into existence and the distant future of paging devices looked bleak. Maintaining a cell phone was very costly, there were charges for incoming too. People talking in mobile in public were stared upon by the masses with jealousy and awe.

The idea of having personal computers for residential use was considered as a luxury. The only internet connection was available from Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited. There was only one scheme which will look crazy in today’s scenario – 500 hours @ Rs 10,000 per year. It was to be a one-time payment. Incidentally, our family was among the first lot of subscribers opting for this crazy scheme in 1997 after my brother brought home a personal computer from Singapore when he came from home to take a break from his first overseas job.

With the arrival of the internet, I got introduced to email. Although I was working with computers in my office, there was no facility of email there. A software named Trumpet Winsock developed by the unsung developer Peter Tattam was used to get connected to the internet. First it was the Shell account with a black creepy screen where the white typed letters appeared in a halting fashion.  Vsnl provided us with an email id. We later dumped it and upgraded to Hotmail with its graphic interface.

I did not use Hotmail for long. Initially, the account had a lot of security loophole. After having my email hacked for several times, I switched over to Yahoo.

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Unlimited fun In “Happy Streets”

Boxing Event Participants of "Happy Street" in front of  "The Park

Boxing Event Participants of “Happy Street” in front of The Park Hotel

It was 08:00 in the morning of 22nd February. Two pairs of men were hurling punches at each other on Park Street (alias Mother Teresa Sarani) right in the front of Park Hotel at Kolkata. Granted the traffic is less in the early hours of Sunday. However, the traffic is not that less to allow people to hurl punches against each other standing in the middle of the road. Also people were cheering them, instead of restraining them to punch each other.

But the case was different on this Sunday. Looking closely, one could see that the men were actually practicing boxing wearing boxing gloves and required attire right on the middle of Park Street in broad daylight. However, impossible it may seem the event was happening.

More action could be seen throughout a portion of Park Street and some part of Russell Street and Camac Street. Youngsters, teenagers and some young adults were practicing Karate, gliding on roller skates, balancing on Skate boards, doing stunts on cycles, playing cricket, having a kick at football, swishing badminton rackets, trying a Michael Jordon stunt at basketball, singing songs, staging a road theater – you name it and this Sunday, Park Street had all of them happening simultaneously in the middle of the road.

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