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A “Library on Wheels” for City of Joy

A “Library on Wheels” for City of Joy

Tram turned to library

A ‘moving library’ aboard an aesthetically designed tram in City of Joy is set to revive old memorabilia and ignite passion among the book lovers.

“My never-failing friends are they

With whom I converse day by day,”

Wrote Robert Southey once.

Among the never-failing friends of the civilized people since time immemorial, books have their special place.

Much though has today’s world been irrevocably hinging on internet and e-books, the special aroma that a book in its original format emits, is enough to still ignite passion among the book lovers.

So, when the authorities in West Bengal Transport Corporation(WBTC) rolled out last month a completely refurbished tram car equipped with books, `Library on Wheels’ immediately received rave reviews.

Calcutta and tram are sort of twin brothers ; you cannot have the one without the other, for the city still boasts of India’s only functional tramways. But more of it little later …

Interior of the tram library
Interior of the Tram Library | Photo Credit :

A first of its kind in India, the `moving library’ aboard a pair of aesthetically designed air-conditioned tram bogies has obviously added a special feather to the cap of the City of Joy.

The specially designed  library  has been equipped with books and magazines, including those on competitive examinations such as the civil services, WBCS, GRE or GMAT.

The aim is to attract readers from various educational institutions along its route, WBTC  managing director Rajanvir Singh Kapur said after the inauguration.

“ Because, the route along which it has been deemed to travel, is dotted with a host of hallowed institutions.”

The tram library  will travel regularly between Shyambazar and Esplanade, traversing  about 4.5 km through the College Street, or Boi Para,  considered to be city’s knowledge hub.

Each of them is a titan in its own periphery and carries a distinctly hallowed past.

It is only in fitness of things when Jibonananda Das, one of the famous modern Bengali poets, termed  tram as a Philosopher’s Car.

On its route, the `library-on-the-move’ is slated to meander along or near as many as 30 illustrious educational institutions.

They  include such names as the Calcutta University, Presidency University, Sanskrit College & University, Bethune College, Scottish Church College, Hindu School, Hare School and the Calcutta Girls’  School among others.

Each of them is a titan in its own periphery and carries a distinctly hallowed past.

It is only in fitness of things when Jibonananda Das, one of the famous modern Bengali poets, termed  tram as a Philosopher’s Car.

The `Library on Wheels’ will also provide other facilities for its users – a free wi-fi to help the passenger-cum-readers to go through e-books.

inside of the tram
Inside the Tram Library | Photo Credit : Twitter/ET news

The authorities plan to update the collection on a regular basis to retain the interest among the old as well as new comers.

“We have in mind other plans like organizing  book reading sessions, book launches and literary festivals in future,” the official said.

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And obviously, won’t `Boi Para’ be an ideal choice for holding such launches and festivals ?

Kapur could not but agree with a large smile.

Because, it’s a kind of a dream come true for him as also Calcuttans who are witness to the city’s and Asia’s maiden electric tram service since 1902.

The first horse-drawn tram cars were introduced in the city as early as in 1870; it was later substituted by steam-engined ones before the introduction of the electric cars.

For more than one and a half century, Calcutta Tramways reigned supreme in the city and has been mute witness to umpteen upheavals afflicting this eastern metropolis.

Today’s kid keenly listens to the tale and seeks to delve into the past in vain – the grandfather had gone for a holy dip in the Ganga on an early morning tram.

His son probably availed an earlier-than- midday tram for commuting to his office at Dalhousie, popularly known as `office para’ then.

In the 80s and late 90s, young lovers always made it a point to hitch-hike a ride on an empty bogey shortly after noon when the sloth vehicle used to meander its way through Maidan, the lungs of the city.

Having fallen out of favour of the fast-paced style of the modern life, the once discarded tram is slowly inching back to claim its pre-eminent position as the best eco-friendly transport system in a city.

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