Thursday, February 26, 2009

Daylight robbery in cultured Bengal and grace in rustic Bihar!!

I was to travel to Kolkotta,the city I have always raved about.The shaktipunj express in the AC class reads all booked.I board the train and what do I find ?-the TTs have booked the berths -there is heavy selling and buying inside the train for a goodnight's sleep.What's more the passengers all seem to be ready for it and obliging-I heard the TT label these passengers as his Laxmi(the goddess of wealth).The night's journey takes me to the taxi stand-I find the taxi driver's pestering right from the moment I disembark-their asking price is anywhere between 150Rs to 250Rs.I manage to wheedle my way to the pre-paid booth ,the man behind the counter asks for Rs 80 and does not have a change for Rs five hundred-suggests I take a taxi without the receipt and pay the meter charge-there is a taxi driver behind the counter monitering it all.I threaten to lodge a complaint-he brings out the change and allots a taxi immediately.On my return journey again in Howrah I see an inspector of sorts harrasing some passengers over some luggage ,he coolly empties their purses and pockets the loot.
The same Shaktipunj is to take me back to my destination-I miss my station and reach a vague place called Nagar-uttari at 3.33 AM in the morning.The station is all dark but for a gas-light of a tea-vendor and shadows of humanity stretched out in every direction.I pull my suit-case to a cold cement bench and generally graze around to look for a comfortable spot.A family of four-a rustic husband ,wife with two kids look like a relatively safe bet.I make enquiries and generally stick around with them till five in the morning.They are apparently going to the adjacent town of Ramna and are gracious enough to invite me to accompany them .They promise to put me in a bus to DTO from there.
I board an over-loaded utility van and bump my way through the bihar roads with every other live creature literally cackling away to glory so early in the morning-half an hour's drive ,I am in Ramna.It's a town of sorts.Immediately a host of people conclude and ask me if I have missed the station-it seemed to be a common mishap in those parts.I get through to the hospital and ask for a car to pick me up from DTO.The bus-ride to DTO is an eye-opener of sorts as we cross Meral,Garhwa road,Garhwa town,Shahpur,etc....these are the places where a lot of my patients come from. I mentally map them in my brain and enjoy a taste of my own medicine.Next time I see patients from this side of the world I will know exactly where to place them-geographically as well as morally!

2 comments:

Philip said...

Thank you for this interesting post of ironic experiences in Bengal and your eye opening trip through Garhwa.

I looked up Garhwa on wikipedia and read the following interesting note: "After the state Jharkhand was formed the roads condition became very good in the state as compared to Bihar. The road between Garhwa and Nagar Untari is remarkable but the road connecting to Nagar Untari and Bhavnathpur is the worst . The road going through the mines is very bad and it takes hours to travel only 8 kilometers."

pixi said...

Come to think of it ,I did make the bus journey literally on the hind wheels.It was not bad at all.