Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Dewal Likhon-er Iti

The beloved city will be tidier, but the poorer for this…

State betters EC, stamps out all graffiti
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
Kolkata: It’s the end of graffiti days in Bengal.
The state government on Monday issued a directive ordering a blanket ban on graffiti, no matter what the property is — public, private or corporate. Home secretary Prasad Ranjan Ray instructed the police top brass to enforce the West Bengal (Prevention of) Defacement of Public Properties Act, 1976, in a bid to prevent defacement of walls. The Act does not allow any household to give a political party permission to write on its wall. In invoking the Act, the state went further than the Election Commission, which had allowed parties to write on walls if a household gave it permission.
“The law makes no distinction between the willing and the unwilling,” Ray said...
(Sorry I couldn't provide a link. This is from an e-paper a/c, and I couldn't find the story elsewhere on the Net yet...)

How will Kolkata look when I visit next, shorn of those impish messages striding walls and houses? Will it be easy to impose such a ban? Will it be accepted peacefully, after such habit and such tradition? All those years of dewal likhon had given politically active youngsters of the city a scope for literary outlet and friendly digs during those tense pre-election evenings. I could almost wish for a counter-surge in creative graffiti that'll defy and mock the ban, but am also in two minds as I find myself picturing a bright and squeaky clean city...

I remember my Mother quoting her favourite dewal likhon years ago. Election was approaching, and the "amuk" below refers to the particular date fixed for voting (which has slipped my mind). The Congress, which wasn't this pally with the CPI(M) in those times, had put this up:
Amuk tarikh-ey aashchhey din
Jyoti Bose-er biyer din

To which the CPI(M) replied overnight with a brand new graffiti on the neighbouring wall:
Ja bolechhish thik bolechhish
Indira Gandhi-ke shajiye rakhish


Numerous such cheeky gems were spawned by Mamata Banerjee’s graffiti-friendly antics. This one is from the jatra-party genre:
Ebong… apnader mon matatey, jhakatey, nachatey… shighroi aashchhen… Miiiisssss Mamata

I wish I had jotted them all down, wish I had my own little nostalgic archive. But who’d have thought that one fine day there would be a “blanket ban” on one of the city’s most recognisable artistic releases? There were times when I have longed for Kolkata to be cleaner here and there, but what now? What if all the new flyovers and strangely jhokjhokey walls make for a city which looks great but has nothing to say? You can’t even put up a graffiti on your own private wall, it seems, which is where the “blanket” comes in… My sympathies for all those who had lined up their brilliant couplets for this year (elections in April or May?).

I wish they had arrived at a compromise:
Anumoti chhara dewal likhon cholbe na, cholbe na
Likhtey holey dewal malik-ke jiggesh korey likhun

or
Nongra kora dewal likhon ebar bondo korun
Du mash porey purono likhon muchhey phelun

Not in the same class, na? If you have some gems, could you hand me a few?


31 Comments:

At 2:09 PM, Blogger Parna said...

hey there! i agree with you. loved reading those grafitis. they are/were so witty! that jyoti basu vs indira gandhi one case in point. ektu beshi porishkaar mone hobe kolkata next time you visit there. but emnitei ato change hoye geche, sometimes it seems like a bad copy of bangalore. don't you think? i know this is debatable.

 
At 5:04 PM, Blogger A fool on the hill said...

Great post, Portnoy. I particularly remember this one. EVMs were being introduced for the first time and a political party had come out with this public interest message:
Amuk dine bottom tipe bhot din.
Great way to elect leaders!

 
At 11:26 PM, Blogger Ghetufool said...

really great post.
i remember a particular graffiti.
as always painted on the wall by cpm.

son asking father, pointing towards mamatadi, "baba or mukhta eto fola keno?"
father: odike takiyo naa, ogulo sob mithya protisrutite bhara.

another one,
mamata, vajpayee and mamata saving their ass sitting on a tree. under the tree, an angry mob of thousands.
from the branches one hoarding hanging, "ek koti bekarer chakri"

mamata saying, "chakri debo bolinito, khabo bolechi".

really really, i will miss the graffitis, that set us apart from others, those are great form of art.
thanks for the post.

 
At 11:35 PM, Blogger Tridib said...

Great post. PORTNOY, COMPLAIN NOT!

 
At 2:48 AM, Blogger Prerona said...

great pic! will they be able to impose it?

 
At 5:56 AM, Blogger J. Alfred Prufrock said...

Apocryphal story. The BJP painted on a long garden wall in Madhyamgram - Horey Ram Horey Ram, Ram Ram Horey Horey.
Subhash Chakraborty's men subverted the graffiti by removing the phutki beneath each raw, thus changing it to Hobey Baam, Hobey Baam, Baam Baam Hobey Hobey

Or the better-known one about the Old Man - Uni ei rajjyo-ke shudhu matro tin-ti jinish diyechhen - Nondon, Chondon aar krondon

J.A.P.

 
At 3:49 PM, Blogger Patient Portnoy said...

Parna: Guess you r right, porishkar to monei hobey... Don't know about bad copy of Bangalore, tho, mainly scared to think of it that way

Fool: Say what, they should actually introduce "bottom tipey voting"... at least would've ensured better turnout :-)

Ghetu: Thanks for contributing to my dewal-likhon archive. Long live the spirit, isn't that the spirit?

Tridib: Thanks, buddy. Shadow Lines fan, pet-kharap empathiser, or real name? :-)
Also, by the look of your pulpit, should I say am honoured by your visit!

Prerona: Dunno if they'll be able to impose it. Not just the city, it's for the whole state, y'know...
Pic not mine (meekly). Googled. Me not prolific gifted clicker like you. Love yours

JAP: What an honour. Please do keep visiting, will try to hold on to you

 
At 4:15 PM, Blogger death said...

hmm

 
At 4:21 PM, Blogger Patient Portnoy said...

Death: Thanks for that fabulous comment. U trying to live up to your name? :-)

 
At 5:31 PM, Blogger Walrus said...

this sucks..i din't get what a single line meant...guess i just have bear the hardships of not knowing hindi:/

 
At 6:15 PM, Blogger GhostOfTomJoad said...

It'll be a miracle if they can pull off such a ban...but we all know that miracles hardly happen :-)

About these gems, I've read plenty of these in autorickshaws and behind trucks. Maybe I should start making a note of each...

Thanks for stopping by!

 
At 8:28 PM, Blogger melon collie said...

It is a pity that my knowledge of bengali is limited to bhoomi's rather brilliant album jatra shuru.

And I suppose if you do convert the lines into English, the true meaning will be lost in translation.

 
At 10:35 PM, Blogger hdpal said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 10:41 PM, Blogger hdpal said...

Why would the left government which claims to pro-employment with respect to the blue collared workers embark on a policy to put hundreds of wall painters (a.k.a. graffiti artist) out of work?

Have they come up with an alternative career path for the people who have spent chucks of their lives making the graffiti and then cleaning it up with a whitewash?

 
At 1:38 PM, Blogger Arthur Quiller Couch said...

Nice. I'm inspired to make a quick trip to Cal just to click the grafitti before it vanishes.

 
At 4:04 PM, Blogger Patient Portnoy said...

Walrus: Thanks for coming down from your conrnflake. Yes, it sucks when you don't know the language, doesnt' it? BTW, it was Bengali (shares mother Sanskrit with Hindi)

Ghost of TJ: Yes, it'll be interesting. Let's wait and watch

Melon: I agree, the fun is lost (in this case) if you translate. Tho, if we ever meet, I can try explaining some of them to you if you are interested :-)
Me love Bhoomi too.

HDPal: Hadn't thought of that. Always thought they were done by passionate amateurs. Makes you wanna wish all the more that the ban doesn't work

AQC: Make it, quick, and take me with you if possible :-)

 
At 6:20 PM, Blogger dreamz said...

is it on in kerala also...? man! i miss home!
thanks for passing by my indiatimes blog!

 
At 8:27 PM, Blogger Shaibal Giri said...

Hi,

A triplet from my schoold days :-

Diner belaye kouta bajaye
Raater bela feast
Book phuliye erai bole
Amra communist

Pramod-Jyoti sona
Keno koro bayna
Asschhe nirbachoney
Jonogon tomader chayna

Prithibi ke ondhokar theke aloy
Enechhilen - Prabhu Jishu
Prithibi ke alo theke ondhokarey
Niye gelen - Jyoti Bosu

 
At 12:04 PM, Blogger Patient Portnoy said...

Dreamz: Dunno about Kerala, but hope not :-)

Shaibal: Thanks for the contribution, I have enough to be happy now

 
At 2:00 PM, Blogger chumkisingh said...

the only graffiti i remember is when our very own fire brand mamata banerjee floated her trinomool party. before one of these elections, the town was painted green with 'chup-chap phool-e chhap'. i thought that was really cool.

 
At 2:03 PM, Blogger Patient Portnoy said...

hee, hee thanks Chumki for that one
sounds really giggly when u keep repeating it to urself :-)

 
At 5:44 PM, Blogger eve's lungs said...

theres one which said " Trinamool er bottom teep ay din" - should have some howlers now that its grafitti time once again ....

 
At 7:45 PM, Blogger Apoplexy said...

Hi..thanks for dropping by.
I deleted your comment for it mentioned my admission..and for the time being I am not going public wih it in my blog..hope you get it.
This was a nice post.
I remember a great slogan from a comrade of mine
:Dewale peeth thekar aage dewal juure lekho"
What do u do in blore?
I like the parts of Blore, I have been malleswaram,ncbs,iisc, etc...havent seen much though i go there every,...will go again for 7 days in a couple of months.

 
At 10:01 PM, Blogger Patient Portnoy said...

Apop: God, I'm sorry. Me and my big foot :-(

Tell me when you come to Bangalore. If we can't meet up, we can at least talk :-)

 
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