As a child, I used to go to the Maidan with my Guggy (my maternal grandfather) in his kochi kolapata (light green) colour Fiat (Premier Padmini) in the 1980s. We used to set off for Maidan from our house at Bowbazar at around 5pm. People who accompanied us were Dilu, Ratan, Ludu-da, Tepi and many more. They used to be my co-players at the limited overs cricket match we used to play at Maidan.
On reaching Maidan we used to get so much excited that after getting off from our car, we (Dilu and me) used to somersault as many times as we could till we used to get exhausted. On being tired we used to refresh ourselves with Thums Up, which was the only option for cold drinks at that time (Coke had long left India for USA and Pepsi was not born then in India). We also used to have phuchka and jhalmuri / bhelpuri.
When we wanted to plant the stumps (reminds me of the famous saying by Tony Greig - "From stUmp to stUmp and from wickIt to wickIt") on the ground, mounted police officers (who were actually army men on horsebacks) used to come and used to break our stumps or threaten us to remove the stumps from digging on the ground. Actually the army men were there to look after the safety of the Maidan and thus they used to do rounds and keep a strict vigilance inside around the Maidan to keep a watch on the big Maidan.
There was a triangular field in the middle of the big Maidan where there used to be 3-4 small golf courses with many holes (not the hole of Mint with the Hole) for beginners I guess. I don’t know who used to play golf there but whenever I went there along with cricket kit, I used to take my hockey stick there and tried to hole the ball with my hockey stick and once I did that I had to pick the ball from those holes using my hand after a lot of difficulty as the holes were quite small. I feared if there might be many snakes or rodents which might bite my fingers.
I also used to visit the Maidan with my mummy and daddy from our Park Circus flat on a cab or by our car. As we approached the Maidan from S.N. Banerjee Road, the evening sun from above the Eden Gardens used to shine on our eyes thus making it difficult for us as well as the person who is driving the car to look in front.
As we approached the Maidan, we used to enter the Maidan from Red Road approach (which was both ways then), we felt like we have reached a place filled with fresh air very much comparable to heaven. The whip of fresh air on us made us breathe out lungs out to the fullest. It made us get free from all our tensions and forget all our sorrows and pains.
Thus the visits to the Maidan was so much enriching for us that we used to visit the heavenly place once a week and sometimes twice or thrice a week during vacations.
Thus I could never think of a place in Kolkata better than the Maidan to get myself rejuvinated.
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