24 February 2017


                                                                                          Gone are the days of exciting evening hours of bygone days. We used to plan about going to a friend’s or a relative’s house after coming back from duty. There were no mobile phones nor did we use to inform them that we are coming. If that particular friend was absent then we would move to another friend’s house after putting a twig from a creeper or a flower on the lock as evidence.
                   If the friend was at home he along with his wife and children would invite us inside with a smiling face. Children used to share our discussions as if we are their family members! Would listen to few new gramophone records and drink roofaza or kissan orange squash, if it was a summer evening. Those days the cola and chowmein culture had not invaded the family life. No hard drinks at home. Discussion would be on doordarsan TV programmes, Hindi films or cricket match. Every where we were welcomed.
                                                                                           Few evenings we would go to Ambagan for tikiya, chat or gupchup. During my school days at Baripada we used to take gupchup with only the liquid(chilli hot tentuli pani) inside no masala or smashed potatos.Those Bihari gupchupwalla really made excellent evening snacks and taught us Hindi. After the gupchup session there was a counting of how many each consumed. Once my younger brother consumed 27. Never had we had stomach upset because of Gupchup or Puchka in Bengali and Chat. Two types of Kulfi were available, one cream coloured and the other green. The green was for males as aphrodisiacs. People with money used to go to Standard restaurant of sector 4; its special was mutton rogon juice and tanduri Roti with golden eagle beer. There was fellow feeling amongst the sector people. No cars, only scooters or bicycles. Amongst doctors only three senior doctors used to come in car others on scooters, few on foot or bicycle and lady doctors in rickshaw. There were 18 shift buses to take workers and officers for duty to the Steel Plant. They were all RED in colour and known as red bus service. Would kill people at random. Most of the drivers were Punjabi or Bihari.
                                                                         Amongst cinema halls Leela hall was inside the steel city which was later on changed to Civic Centre by the Steel Authority. The audio system was so bad after it was changed to a Town Hall type that lakhs of rupees were spent by the management to set it right. Even now the audio system is as bad as it was. Other cinema halls were Apsara near Railway station and Razak at old Rourkela.Later on Deepak Talkies was the only hall inside the town ship near sharma canteen. People used to watch the night shows at Apsara and catch night trains. No advance booking was required after the film had run for a week or so, for balcony tickets of Rs: 1:50 or Rs: 2/-. ‘Bhadra lok’ (gentleman) used to book tickets in balcony not lungi clad butchers. Some first day first show fans used to purchase tickets in black.Going for a cinema with wife was a big event in those days. The story and the beauty of the actress or the dance sequence, songs were discussed with friends and family gatherings for weeks, the only source of entertainment.
                                 Then during 1984-85 came the Television culture. Sunday morning the market place and streets had a deserted look due to Ramayana, Spiderman, Sherlockhomes, Street hawks and Star wars.No one was welcomed during serial time. People stopped going to friend’s house as they felt neglected and unwanted guests. On other days evening time was occupied by Hum Log and Buniyad.The society got  changed. From that time it got disintegrated and it’s where we stand now.
Sanjoy Satpathy

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