Shonar Bangla

An account of my journey experience at West Bengal via Howrah, Kharagpur and Kalna – to and fro!

Where is Geeta di? Don’t feel nice since I don’t see her today!” – a local passenger of Ladies Compartment of a Local Train exclaimed to another. (Translated from Bengali: Geeta didi koi? Aajke onaake dekhchhi naa toh bhaal laagchhe naa!!!!)

My visit to West Bengal just came out as a surprise element amid my planned transition from six-years amalgamation of college & corporate life to fellowship –scheduled in first week of July. In June, as part of the MHRD-GOI initiative, I got the opportunity to study at IIT Kharagpur: the philosophical interpretation of social movements in cyberspace – a GIAN course. Since I have my maternal relatives based at different locations of West Bengal, it became the apt education-cum-exploration vacation for me.

What I learned by visiting if not all, few of the prominent places in West Bengal:

  • Local Trains:

The daily commuters are so usual in travelling with each other, that each local train bogie has a sphere of its own, where almost each individual knows everything about the other. It could have been natural to grasp in journeys via villages and suburbs, however same was the condition with the metropolitan Kolkata as well. Thus, it was different and amusing for me to observe as a Delhiite, who observes no conversation among any co-passengers in Delhi.

  • Railway Stations:

Forget promises of fully air conditioned city or wifi enabled stations, there is not even lifts or escalators for handicaps, pregnant women, senior citizens, or individuals with heavy luggage.

Many stations even lack separate queues for senior citizens or women. Anyone can get anything inside the stations or the trains, since there are no security checks – not even at the Howrah Railway Station. Sad, we wake-up only when something happens, and then remain status-quo.

More frustrating is the helpline no. 138: so messed, that most of the times, the call diverts to Sealdah Rly Station (even on making calls from the Howrah station); and other times, no one was bothered to answer the phone. Yet, few citizens attribute railway #farehike to a potential railways development, what they need is visits to the stations and experience train journeys: where an Old Delhi Railway Station is unhygienic, and TTs at Howrah still demand for bribes to allot an available seat, and if the train route diverts due to any fault in the railway line, passengers have to manage on their own: Kalka Mail has been diverted for two continuous days from Khurja Railway Junction and would not be on its regular route, via Delhi, and the Delhi passengers would have to manage on their own AT NIGHT. No COMPENSATION or ALTERNATIVE arrangement – where is the transparency or accountability!!!!

And those who get happy of the response to tweets by Indian Railway, that too is selective!

  • Villages:

Over social networking sites, individuals of opposite political ideologies are trolling over their unending wait for a free Wi-Fi and 15 lakh rupees in each account, or perhaps appreciating the governance over the work they have proclaimed over their ads. Seldom has anyone done a field analysis. Forget wifi and even computer, villages even lack proper education structure, with only the English subject in the language, all others in Bengali. Can they compete in the international market? There are, however, schemes to promote minorities’ education by State Government, such as providing funds for stationery items, cycle etc.

The electrified villages do not have appropriate voltage for proper functioning of mere equipments like fan or light: imagine how do their kids study or sleep! Further, the roads and the transportation – that’s I don’t have to even tell.

  • Temples:

Mayapur, which has collection of temples, believed to Lord Nimai’s birth place: a re-incarnation of Lord Krishna.  From Nabadwip Dham, one has to take a Boat-Ferry to reach Mayapur. The way to the boat is a wooden bridge passage, which seems to be working on Almighty’s blessings.

God belongs to the Riches! Have heard few of the priests here saying that the minimum Puja (worship with rituals) fees is Rs 51/-. Even the Noon Bhog is for those who pay for it. Further ahead, at the Iskon premises, there are slew of temples: each of them with a magnificent infrastructure. There was giant one – still under construction. In front of the Gaushala, the donors’ name and donation was enlisted. The cows had their serial numbers ‘pierced’ at their ears. Was wondering what difference could this donations and money spent on building infrastructure made if dedicated towards children education or a village development.

This impacted my visit to Dakshineshwar, where although I could not find such commercialization of God, except the price of different Puja packages: one with only flowers and incense sticks, the other added with a Lotus, then a Saree and so forth: minimum starting with Rs 51.

Pictures uploading soon!


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