The breaking news these days? Kolkata’s gonna be hoarding-free! No ugly hoardings raising its head between lovebirds near Dhakuria Lake or Beleghata Lake, no sari ads distracting my super boring dad on his way to work, no finger lickin’ good chicken wings to make my ‘friend on a strict diet’ feel bad… I guess I might be risking quite a few followers(not that I have many)when I say this out loud-I don’t think I hate hoardings that much. You see, I’ve never really seen a hoarding free Kolkata. They say it’s more beautiful that way but doesn’t the beauty lie in the eyes of the beholder? Kolkata is beautiful to me for its scenic beauty and for the lack of it. I love Kolkata for the dust-a-thon near Shyambazaar five point crossing, for the fish smell behind New Market, for the water logged roads near Hazra, for the very considerate crow near Vivekananda Road crossing who decides to poop on my hands instead of my hair because I was on my way to somewhere other than home and I couldn’t shampoo my hair in the coming ten minutes or so but I had enough water to wash my hands. So, Kolkata’s beauty, for me is incomplete without those ugly hoardings. I think Kolkata, without them, won’t really be the Kolkata I’ve known. It’ll just be another perfect and posh city I’ll think twice before getting out in. I happen to share a personal relationship with hoardings. There’ve been instances when I learnt the spelling of a word from one of the hoardings or spent a good twenty minutes reading the hoardings when my bus was stuck at a busy crossing and there was no PYT to envy or no hunk to check out nearby. I used to go to school on my dad’s bike when I was a kid and he made me read out all the hoardings to him and I used to get free chocolates if I made no mistakes. I also remember a tuition near Tala tank which was a maze in itself for my ten years old brain. I had to walk down two typical north Kolkata lanes with a minimum of fifteen turns with identical old fashioned houses with identical saris hanging from the roofs. It started around eight in the morning. So,my dad used to be already out for office. My mom had Arthritis and couldn’t get out of home. So, I had to go alone though I used to have friends on my way back. I was lost many a times. But I always found my way, thanks to a hoarding explaining why we should use only Cookme ground spices(‘Cookme guro masala’ for all you bongs) in our curries. I came to know about my first audition from a roadside hoarding. I often come to know about sales, new restaurants, exhibitions, crafts fairs and the premiere dates of certain TV shows from hoardings, even now! I’m all for turning Kolkata into London(as our Chief Minister has promised)but is it such a bad idea to leave certain parts of Kolkata the way they’re so that some other ten years old doesn’t get lost on her way to tuition?