Sunday, August 7, 2011

Jurassic City

As the bus danced like an angry Obelix through the cacophonic roads, a lonely guard caught my eye. As nondescript as a lonely guard can be, I saw that he was manning a massive gate – that added to his non-existent existence – which welcomed nobody to a place that used to be a dreamland for kids once. Science City.

If you have ever been to Kolkata, and have ever asked anyone about the places to visit, I will be surprised if you didn’t get a mention of ‘Science City’.

When it had been set up in 1997, every single soul in West Bengal descended on it. And if you would had the audacity to say that you didn’t get the time to visit, the rickshaw-wallahs in your neighborhood would waive your fare and would ask you to take science tuition instead!

Yours truly was not one of them. And thankfully so, as one of the fondest memories, etched most vividly in my head, is that of me and Typo going to Science City with Ma, Baba & Chotomashi. What had initiated this trip from the languid, laidback town of Kalyani (almost 60km away from the capital), was a Steven Spielberg film – back in the days when he was the source for directorial-cliches rather than being the one emulating them. Jurassic Park

Now the thing is, with path-breaking CGI and a compact out-of-this-world narrative, the film had already blown collective minds. Science City, with a magical swipe of the government hand, pulled off an advertising coup of the decade unlike any other public sector initiatives of the kind before or after – by incorporating the Jurassic Park concept of ‘dinosaurs in theme parks’ in the City itself!

Okay, okay, Enough with the background.

As we entered the huge campus with two fantastic grass Tyrannosaurus Rex-es doffing their hats and ushering us in, I almost had an intelligence-quest-orgasm in anticipation of what lay inside those walled gardens.

There was a bamboozling collection of dinosaurs – right from the massive Diplodocus to the eerily confrontational Stegosaurus – all mechanized yet almost life-size models of the pre-historic beasts. Me and Typo ran from one to the other, taking in all the information from the plaques, displays and the volunteers. There were books, maps, AV displays – it seemed like a poor man’s Jurassic Park itself. We even tried to smuggle out a Dino egg but the genius that my brother is, he decided to smuggle it hiding it in his pants, freaking the elderly guard out as he had never thought that a kid aged five can have such bad man problems.      

There were other super stuff inside too, one of the highlights being the temporarily set-up Room of Mirrors. But we didn’t stay long there, as you really can’t digest 24 versions of an ugly kid with his brother digging his nose in tow. So we left in a hurry. (Did I forget to tell you that Chotomashi passed out inside the room, because she thought from the reflections that the small pimple on her forehead had assumed such gigantic proportions overnight? No? Okay.)

There was also a 3D Dynamotion thing, which let me experience how Harry Potter feels when he is on a crazy broom with shit controls zooming inside a pyramid. I barfed inside the purse of the lady beside me, but she said that it was okay because she had thrown up on Typo’s head too. People used to be so nice and understanding back then. Sigh! After we got out, Typo asked me if I had seen any sign that said free hair gel was being offered with the 3D trip, but I ignored him.

And as a final part of the dream we were living, there was a Ropeway too! There is nothing like being an eye in the sky and checking out every babe in the vicinity of the whole campus. I would have jumped out like a paratrooper if there was a chute in the cable-car, but there was none and so I didn’t. Typo insisted that a real paratrooper needed no chute and asked me to be a man, but I ignored him like always.

As I left the gates and the dinosaurs behind, fully content with the trip and actually looking forward to the 3-hour trip back home, I had already hatched plans to come back here again next weekend.  

That was never to be.

After our entrepreneurial adventures failed, we moved away from Kolkata, and came back only to find myself buried deep in adulthood and cynicism to revisit this place.

I travel every weekday by this giant scientific dream-turned-daydream, and can only see that its grounds now host romancing couples instead of inquisitive kids. Probably they have planned it right – to romance in the gardens of science itself, so that their kids are born Einsteins, Teslas and Edisons.

Science City, for me at least, symbolizes the happy and carefree curiosity I have left behind in time. It symbolizes the Paper Maps and the little World Globes I have left behind on my desk in my search for success in the real orbs of life. It symbolizes the pre-historic times when I used to have weekends that did not reek of work and evenings were unadulterated fun. Maybe, I never visited again because I was too scared to burst those little bubbles of joy, trapped in a head that has turned arid with time.

Science City, as I pass by you in a purple haze, racing to lynch deadlines and back, I find your charm is still the same. The only thing that’s changed is me. But that is the perfect way to be.

I want to go back there, and yet I don’t. In times when every key on every Smartphone is a Science City in itself, in times when you can't read up old books while searching for another one because Google is so accurate, I have kept my dinosaurs safely tucked away in my memories. 

For you are no plain “Science City – Phase I” to me, No.

You are my very own Jurassic City!


  1. Nice one, though u made a baffoon out f me, still, remembering those moments give immense pleasure to me. See u soon bhai :)

  2. Good good.. made me remember the time I visited our Jurassic City :)
    But why does poor bhaitu become the dumb prick everytime!?! Maybe a role reversal next time? ;)

  3. yes yes ... im totally with u di !

  4. phir se tune typo i mean soumi ki izzak ka falooda bana diya

  5. Very well written Dibs..write a few about our company too :-)