Writers' Block

The Writers' building is a red,labyrinthine structure, the first version of which, I believe, was built as a shelter for junior Company clerks in the 1760s. One signs in a register to get a day pass, one fills up the pass and show it at a gate to get in. Then one lines up in front of the possibility of a cagelike elevator. One remembers Ray's Mahanagar where Madhobi and her Anglo-Indian saleswoman friends giggle in front the elevator shaft. No giggling Anglo-Indian women here. Only bespectacled grievance-carrying hopefuls. Few glances at papers show that pensions and money due from a public institution are popular causes for grievance. Others carried brown-papered sombre applications stating promises of investment and industrial endeavour from a neighbouring Sponge Iron Company.

One gives up on the possibility of a cagelike elevator and walks up the staircase. To find more postered grievances. In green. Red. From Customs Employees Union. To Port Workers Brigade. And promises of travel to the seaside. (Almost all travel agent billboard in central Calcutta even outside Writers' promise to take you to Puri and Digha). And one enters a grid of pale pink files and whirring fans. A bearded man. Somewhat flirtatious. Says please sit. And tells a departing lady to tell her sister to stop worrying. And love the grievance I suppose.

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