A man smiled from underneath his Bengali moustache embracing the despair of his office surroundings. Fans, hanging from the high ceilings, provided scanty comfort amidst the rows of empty tables and chairs. Wooden chests of drawers, and partition frames speak of a busy time in these premises. A faint conversation continued with the early nineteenth century here. The Hooghly Dock and Port Engineers Limited started in 1819 – one of the first big industrial ventures on the lower Hooghly belt. The region on the riverfront of Howrah and Hooghly was to industrialize rapidly after the construction of the Calcutta Port and the installation of railways in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Locked steel cabinets labeled ‘Obsolete Documents’ spoke of a careful samjhauta with the past. Taken over by the central government in 1984, in order to address the needs of financial and infrastructural management, the campus of HDPEL stands on the riverfront of Salkia - a ghosthouse. Its salaries are paid by the government, it has no orders. The Nazirgunj campus, they say, has some orders. The Salkia unit is equipped with a dry dock and a ship-building yard. The ruinous architecture reads as an embellishment of the past on a decadent present. And makes for pretty pictures that they wouldn’t let me take. Aapni likhe deben eta kebol dhonshaboshesh. Please go and write that this is nothing but ruin. 


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