Of late, the air around the fabled “Boi-para” aka the College Street locality in Kolkata is burdened by a strange feeling of deprivation. The old world glory and the nostalgic charm is slowly fading away while giving way to a different world altogether. Veterans are of the opinion that this unique locale in the entire Indian sub-continent which boasted of any possible creation that had been ever printed is losing its old glory to textbooks.
The melancholy in the air
They feel that college street is nowadays a place to buy textbooks and select bestsellers of contemporary times while the previous nostalgia of surfing through all sorts of books and articles from all corners and topics of the world is a thing of the past. The shops in College Street too are only interested in trading in textbooks rather than emphasizing on the variety and typicality of books. Every old-timer out here rues about the current state of College Street saying that currently it has turned into nothing but an ordinary textbook market.
A nostalgia called College Street
There was a time when people would simply come to College Street just to absorb in the atmosphere and the air that was filled with scholarly cacophony and futuristic ideas. There were shops like Subarnarekha that were centres to find literary gems that enthralled one and all. It was nothing short of a tourist destination in Kolkata as Kolkatans felt pride in boasting about the uniqueness and ambience of their beloved “Boi-para”. According to many, it was nothing short of treasure trove which has now transformed into an ugly spectre of those days of yore.
The start of a decline
The decline in the charm of College Street started in the mid 80’s. The education reform was taking place in those days. Previously where there were a few dozen publishers in the region, now houses a few hundred of them. The competition and lure to earn greater profits and survive in the ever expanding publishing scenario, the shops and publishers took refuge in textbooks. These books were the ones that gave better profits and ensured high returns. The entire scenario has changed. From a place of creativity it has transformed into a hideous place where textbooks are the only staple trading option.
Recovering the lost charm
The lost charm of the place can be restored only with the efforts of the people who visit College Street themselves. The abhorrence of story books and novels among the current generation’s youth mostly due to the impact of developments in IT and Digital technology is a major concern. They must feel the role that knowledge can play in their lives rather than some dumb old boxes meant for their virtual entertainment. Initiatives by publishers and booksellers in order to revive the charm of the locale will be fruitful in order to attract young minds and people to the place to get the same intellectual feel of yesteryears. College Street is a heritage of Kolkata by its own right and the citizens of the city must strive to preserve its integrity and originality with utmost diligence and fortitude.