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Friday, November 1, 2019

imagine a cart drawn by Zebra on the busy roads of metropolis !!

Remembering Crazy Mohan ~ he once wrote dialogue for a comedy drama ’36 Beerangi lane’ parody of – ‘36 Chowringhee Lane’ film written and directed by Aparna Sen and produced by Shashi Kapoor. It marked the directorial debut of Sen, who had until then been known as a leading actress of Bengali cinema.

Visitors to Kolkatta would never want to miss the large marble building – ‘Victoria Memorial’ built between 1906 and 1921. It is dedicated to the memory of Queen Victoria (1819–1901) and is now a museum under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture.  The memorial lies on the  bank of the Hooghly River, near Jawaharlal Nehru Road (better known as Chowringhee Road).  Chowringhee road is considered to be one  of the first roads in the city;  prior to the coming of the British, the road used to link the villages of Kalighat and Chowringhee. The village of Chowringhee,  named  after a saint Chowranginath of the Nath sect. There would be so many horse-drawn carriages !! nearer the Victoria memorial.

With stripes across the body, they look like having a barcode and at a glance all in the herd might look alike – they say that their stripe patterns are as distinctive as fingerprints are in man. Scientists can identify individual zebras by comparing patterns, stripe widths, colour and scars but to us they would look alike apart from their size – big and small.  Not as majestic as the Horse, Zebra is a specie of African equids, live in the wild and have never been domesticated. 

Before you make any comment on the stripes, Scientists in Japan have found that if cows have zebra-style stripes painted on them, they are bitten less by the aptly named ‘biting flies’ - pests that are estimated to cost US farmers around $2,211 million per year in productivity.  Despite sounding like something out of a cartoon, the study in Aichi prefecture, which was published in the journal PLOS One, was based on previous research that suggests one of the functions of zebra’s stripes is to avoid being bitten.

More Zebra news - a runaway zebra has been shot dead in Germany after it escaped from a circus and fled onto a motorway, causing a traffic accident, police say.  Police in the northern city of Rostock said the animal disrupted traffic, damaged cars and caused an accident on the A20 motorway on Wednesday before being shot dead by officers. A second zebra that escaped from the circus was captured. It is not yet clear how the two animals escaped from the circus in northern Germany on Tuesday evening.  Police on Wednesday morning issued a warning on Twitter that one of the escaped zebras was disrupting traffic on the A20 highway and had caused an accident.

In a later statement, they said no one was injured in the collision, which occurred when one car braked to avoid the animal, causing another to crash into it. The animal also damaged vehicles and forced the temporary closure of the highway, they said,  Zebra – on the road ! ~ funny, you thought ? – read more !

Pathuriaghata is a neighbourhood in North Calcutta, in West Bengal. It is one of the oldest residential areas in what was Sutanuti. Once the abode of the Bengali rich, the neighbourhood and its surrounding areas are now dominated by Marwaris. Even in the 21st  century the area is replete with colonnaded mansions.

Amongst the oldest and most renowned residents of the neighbourhood were the Tagores. Joyram Tagore, who amassed a large fortune as a merchant and as Dewan to the French government at Chandannagar, shifted from Gobindapur to Pathuriaghata, when the British constructed new Fort William in the mid-eighteenth century. There is a road named after his son, Darpanarayan Tagore considered by many as the founder of the Tagore family. It is between Maharshi Debendra Road and Jadulal Mullick Road in Ward 21 of Kolkata Municipal Corporation.  Tagore castle was a prominent residence.  Jatindramohan Tagore  made a departure in the way of building residences in India. He modelled the building on that of an English castle. It even had a 100 feet (30 m) high centre tower in the fashion of Windsor Castle in England. There was a clock imported from England, reminiscent of Big Ben. He even had permission to fly the Union Jack.

Next to the turrets of Tagore Castle on Prasanna Kumar Tagore Street is the house of the Mullick family topped by classical statuary. Jadulal Mullick (1844-1894) had numerous contributions in social and law spheres. At one time he donated enormously to the Oriental Seminary.  Jadulal Mullick has a road named after him in the area. His son, Manmathanath Mullick,  reportedly bought a pair of zebras from Alipore Zoological Gardens to pull his carriage through the streets of Kolkata. He had nine types of carriages and a stable full of horses. One of the grandsons of Jadulal Mullick, Prodyunno Kumar Mullick had 35 cars, out of which 10 were Rolls Royce. The Mullicks have contributed enormously for charitable purposes.  The zebras on road pulling carriage could have been a weird attraction – and to show that the stripes were not painted one, they reportedly were bathed frequently !

Other than Zebra fame,  Mullicks did play a very significant role in shaping and preserving the Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal.   The Mullicks originally belonged to the gold mercantile community (suvarna baniks) and traditionally had been rich businessmen.  Sri Uddharana Datta Thakura and A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada are the foremost of the great suvarna baniks to have graced our parampara (Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya sampradaya). Surrendering his life unto the lotus feet of Lord Nityananda, Sri Uddharana, who had hailed from a very opulent gold mercantile family, subsequently renounced his wealth, fame, prestige and accepted the robes of a mendicant to further the cause of Krishna consciousness.

Interesting !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
29th Oct 2019.
Thanks : my friend Sridhar Joshi whose Quiz had this Q on Zebra carriage !

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