Kolkata is the city of joy. It never sleeps, never rests. Every moment has a procession, rally, a local football match or cricket match, and the diverse colourful festivities. The voices of its joyous citizens can always be heard, but there is still a place in its heart that is quiet, peaceful and different from all the other places.
Named after King William III of England, Ireland and Scotland, Fort William, a garrison was built in 1696 by the British East India Company. However Robert Clive started the renovation of the fort in 1758, after the Battle of Plassey. It was on the grounds of the Eastern Command that The Statesman Vintage Car Rally 2015 was hosted. The sheer size of the stadium left me astonished during the Car Rally; but little did I know that the stadium was only a part of the Fort, which in itself was like a city within a city.
Being the daughter of a Brigadier, my friend Eshita thought that there was no better way to spend a lovely evening than to take a stroll on the grounds of Fort William. The car entered the premises through the east gate and headed towards Kalyani Arcade, which is the shopping centre of Fort William. The place was truly mesmerizing. Licking away at our ice creams, Eshita and I were doing some real as well as window-shopping. Assuming that a market within the fort did not offer a wide variety of choices, would be a mistake. The variety left us confused.
We walked to the army playground where there is a football ground, a basketball court and ropes hanging to practice one’s climbing skills. Even after a huge effort, I was unable to climb the ropes and instead landed straight on the ground! With my back aching, I was escorted by Eshita to St. Patrick’s church, inside Fort William. The calm and serene atmosphere of the church truly portrayed how it was the house of a lord. We paid a visit to the temple and the ‘gurdwara’ on the grounds. Peace and calm prevailed all around.
Our next stop was Vatika. It is a park in Fort William. As I walked barefoot on the green carpet-like grass and played on the swing like a little child, the fresh breeze surrounding made me feel closer to mother nature. But no evening is complete without a nice evening snack. We treated ourselves to some delicious confectionery from the Fort William bakery and some mouth-watering dishes from the Fort William fast food centre.
As we were leaving, Eshita’s mother informed me that the headquarters of the Eastern Command was based at Fort William and it had provisions for accommodating 10,000 army personnel with their families. Entry to the Fort William premises is strictly restricted to the army, their families and guests like me.
That was an evening, wonderfully spent. Located on the periphery of the lush green Maidan, the Fort built of brick and mortar with three of its sides facing the Hooghly River, makes men who protect our country from every face of danger. The clean roads and parks of Fort William clearly illustrate the discipline of the people living within its walls. They work very hard to prepare themselves for any eventuality. They die on the borders so we can sleep peacefully at night. I feel proud of my national identity and also very safe and secure.
Class XI, Coordinator, Loreto House