Sundeep Bhutoria

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Sunday, February 16, 2014

Patna memory trek

At a dinner party in Maurya
Patna, Feb 16, 2014: Today was the last day of the Patna Literature Festival 2014 and I did not have any session today. After hearing a more-than-full house session of Yatindra Mishra in conversation with Gulzar Sahab, I decided to visit a few places in the city where I used to live during my primary school days.
I am visiting Patna almost after 20 years. I was last here some time around 1993 or 94, I don't remember exactly. I left Patna after completing class 4 from St Karen’s School but continued to visit Patna once or twice a year till 1994.
I went to the Hira Palace market at Dak Bungalow Road where we once had our family business shop of suitings and shirtings called Chandan. It has now changed into a jewellery shop. I went inside the market looking for other shops of which I had faint memories. I stepped into a mens' wear shop and asked the person there if it used to be the Vatika Sari shop. The person, Savar Agrawal, looked at me and asked which year I was talking of since Vatika was closed many years ago.
When I asked him about another shop called Chola, he said that it had closed down some three or four years ago. I had fond memories of two shops in that market. One was the Wonderland which used to be a video game parlour and the other was the Sweet Home Confectionary shop which sold vegetable patties I used to madly crave for. I still remembered the exact location of both the shops.
When I reached where there used to be Wonderland, instead I saw another shop called Doma Saha Mohanlal Jewellers. But the Sweet Home Confectionery was still very much there. I stepped into the shop and hesitantly inquired, “Do you still keep vegetable patties!” And almost instantly I noticed a box of vegetable patties lying in the same corner where it used to during my childhood days. Later, I came to know that the Sweet Home Confectionary shop had done very well. They had made a very good name for themselves and have opened a few more outlets in the city.
I saw Kamani Beauty Parlour and on my way back from the market I also saw Sahib & Sahiba; the shop which used to keep Raymond suitings & shirtings and from where we used get our clothes stitched. I wanted to step in for a while but had no time. I told the driver to take the car to the Income Tax Chauraha where I used to live in the house of one Sumitra Devi.
It did not take me more than a minute to find my way straight to the house which still had that pinkish red colour and also the nala which we used to call ganda nala. Much to my surprise even afer three decades, that nala it is still open and lives up to its name.
With Dr Ajit Pradhan, Vikram Seth, Indoria ji and Vikram Sampath
There was a maid who came out of the garden and I asked her about Sumitra Devi. She looked quizzed and said that she had died more than eight years ago. Sumitra Devi’s family is into politics and one of their relatives, if I remember correctly, her daughter-in-law, is Meera Kumar – the current Speaker of the Lok Sabha. I asked the maid several questions and she kept telling me that she did not know much about the house. I will have to speak to Sumitra Devi’s daughter next week. The maid probably thought that I had gone there to look for flats available on rent in the house.
From there, I went to the railway station opposite Hotel Samrat to look out for shops called Mehman and Mayfair. From the road I could spot the sports shoes and equipment shop.
After I left Patna on completing class four, I still visited the city and used to sit in the shop Mehman which belonged to our extended family till 1993-94. I asked about Mayfair which used to be a very famous restaurant selling vegetarian and non-vegetarian rolls which they used to serve outside to customers on their bikes and cars.
With Pavan Verma and Gulzar Sahab
After a quick trip, I returned to the Patna Museum and had lunch with many of the authors. I had a chat with Pavan Verma and Gulzar about the Fest.
There was some respite from the rains today and the weather had cleared up though it wasn't sunny yet. While going through these old places, I found it somewhat hard to believe that I was visiting Patna after 20 years.
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