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Evacuation row at Bowbazar’s baiji para as Metro officials fear collapse

We have been asked to evacuate the building that is said to have come under the affected zone. My earnings will further be affected as my clients have expressed fear of coming to this place after the incident, said a bar dancer.

NISHAT NIZAMI | Kolkata |

The bylanes of Gour Dey Lane in Bowbazar that used to come alive after sunset with echoes of ghungroo worn by the dancing girls (baijis), wore a deserted look today, after around 60 families of such nautch girls were evacuated from the stretch where the Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation Limited (KMRCL) officials feared subsidence.

The heavily populated narrow stretch of Gour Dey Lane accommodates several century-old buildings that have already passed their life span. The area, during the British era, was frequented by a section of babus, who spent their ‘happy hours’ with the dancing girls. Since its hey days, Bowbazar has been symbolic for being not only the jewellers’ hub, but also a place of entertainment, particularly for the section of people who found their means of amusement in the dancing girls.

Till this day, Gour Dey Lane continues to accommodate several nautch girls, according to the local residents and gold smiths. While the ground floor in most buildings are given over to workshops of the local jewellers, the upper floors are the permanent abodes of dancing girls, who have been living there for years. After sunset, the narrow and congested bylanes come alive with the sound of the anklets, which continues till wee hours, claim the local residents. The area, where the sounds of gold jewellery-making machines are heard during the day, has a totally different atmosphere after dusk.

The iconic lane of dancing girls, however, portrayed a different picture today. Several dancing girls from the area along with their families were asked to leave their premises at the earliest. 90, Gour Dey Lane, that houses roughly 20 families, witnessed a hurried evacuation of the baijis’ families. “We have been asked to evacuate the building that is said to have come under the affected zone. I am shifting to my flat in South Kolkata with my family. My earnings in the profession that had already gone down since the past two-three weeks, will further be affected as my clients have expressed fear in coming to this place after Sunday’s incident,” said a middle-aged woman, a dancing girl by profession, who lives at Gour Dey Lane.

While most nautch girls’ families hurriedly wrapped up their stuff and left their houses, a section of members of the community, preferred to stay back. “There is no world for us outside these four walls. Whether dead or alive, our fate is within this premise. So, we have decided to stay on and face what is there in store for us,” rued a middle-aged woman, who has been in the profession since long.