A Journey to Colonial Bengal By Md. Eftekhairul Islam Mithun
When I stay inside my room, I feel that I am living in my beloved country; just with different room decoration as my studentship I had passed.
But when I come outside the room I feel different.
My conscience returns and be disgrace. I am not living my dear country; nevertheless I am living in my neighboring country. After a long conversation with the representative of an Indian university, at last I got an opportunity to study in India. But I hated India for an unspeakable reason. However, I applied for Indian visa and got it. Then I fixed a date to go there. On 2nd September 2018 I arranged my necessary clothes, books and others. My parents, my one-and-a-half-year old daughter and two more relatives gathered at my house.
They are ready to see me off in the Nimtala Border, Darsana. It is not very far from my residence. It took 15 minutes only. We reached the immigration office and completed all procedures. I finally became ready to say goodbye to my all beloveds. It might be twelve o’clock at noon. I was not sure. I stepped on the land of India and all of a sudden, I became a foreigner. After completing the some other procedures what I had done just before in Bangladesh, I got into a train with a ticket to Shealdah.
It is Gede under the Nadia district. The differences have started with my country after the initiative of my journey at Gede. I have seen a well decorated railway station.
There is no dust anywhere. Even no police officers were there to watch the misdeed activities. No person litters the platform. Within a few minutes, my train started running towards Kolkata.
Minutes ticked by and I was going far away from my home, my near and dear ones. Buying a ticket at Rs30 I travelled 116 km. No checker popped up. Plenty of people travel by the train in the country but you won’t able to find a latrine facility inside the train. I could not find reason. While leaving the train, I understood its reason as I saw a sign reading–‘Don’t litter the railway.’ This activity doesn’t mean that they are honest. It means that they are well-mannered and obedient to the rules of law.
After coming outside the station, I have seen many ticket counters shouting for selling train ticket with extra Tk 2. This short cut system, of course, minimises the queue of crowd for a ticket. When I reached the Howrah Station, a ticket tout came in to me and asked me if I needed a ticket. “Dada, where will you go?” Another approached with the same question. I was flabbergasted with the recurring same question. Why did he ask me? Again the first tout asked “Do you need a train ticket?” I answered positively. “How much for Raipur?” said I. He told me, “Raipur Junction? Ok, let me see the fare.” He took his mobile out from the pocket. Actually, I wanted to go to Raipur. It is a junction or not, I did not know before. “Yes, hurry up, please”, I said. Showing me a website, he told me in Hindi, “Rs1800 lage ga dada”. “Itna rupee lage ga! Let me try for a ticket counter. Can you show me the way?” He said, “Ticket to mile ga but confirm nahi hoga. Mein to confirm ticket dina chata hu”. Avoiding his proposal, I started walking with my luggage. Within a minute, a flock of people came to me and asked me where I was coming from. One of them announced that he is from Bangladesh. Definitely at that moment, I could not understand how he could know about my homeland. Talking with them I understood that he discovered me by observing my accent and style of talking because Indian Bengali accent is very different from ours.
But some people came forward suggesting me that I can speak Bengali like Kolkata. LOL, then I lost in language accent.
They were five in number and offered me that they would give me an AC bath ticket. “Bath! No, I can’t take bath”. “We give AC bath at a cheap rate. Look! It is Rs1500”. “I don’t take bath at night. Ok?” “No. No. No brother. AC bath is the name of a compartment.” “Oh! Berth! Ok, I need a seat in the berth.” Oh my god it happens for accent and pronunciation problems.
They call the AC compartment as AC berth. Collecting passport and rupee from me, they went to book a ticket. Fifteen minutes later one of them came in to me and gave handed a ticket and bade me goodbye.
Having a close look at the ticket, I saw the cost of ticket is Rs1065.
Real Indian touting nature unfolds! My illusion of India being a good country started to shatter.
It is called cybercrime that is mentioned the fare is Rs1500. It is true if I went to the ticket counter I could not collect what the ticket touts say a ‘confirmed ticket’. Entering the station, I saw a miracle and something unbelievable. I have never seen that in our railway stations. The large amount of crowd is roaming here and there.
Train comes and goes all day long. We saw this scene in movies but not in reality. We see this in English movies. However, some of the passengers are sleeping. A big fan, I never seen it in my life, is moving over our heads. Its length is, may be, 20-22 yards.
But there is no rubbish and dust around the platform. Every after 30 minutes, cleaners are cleaning the floor of the platforms. Fully digitalised station. Every man can access free WiFi by registering their India’s phone number. They are using a mobile apps “Where is my train” to find the state of desirable train.
I started journey at 9:45pm. I could not, sometimes, eat in the compartment. Language makes this difficult. When I spoke Bengali, they could not understand me and similarly, when they spoke Hindi, I could not understand them. There was a man of Pune travelling with us, Cheton Sharma, who knew a little English. He helped me all time. Reaching the Raipur Junction after 13 hours of journey, I saw the station neat and clean, well-decorated, highly secured and six platforms. Raipur Junction is smaller than Howrah Station where there are almost 27 platforms. I took a university car. Coming straightway, I saw a flock of buffaloes. They are moving on the high street. They made some bus and car stopped.
The driver of the car told me about the buffaloes. “Sir, upon your arrival at Raipur you meet them first. More of them are waiting for you.” We shared a smile and I asked him, “Whose are they?” He gave a surprising answer. “You can’t see the owners of buffaloes in day, sir. And you can’t see buffaloes at night, sir.” By this time, we reached Naya Raipur. Somebody, especially Indian, says its name New Raipur. But in Hindi its name is Naya Raipur. Usually as a proper noun I say the place’s name Naya Raipur. I saw a magnificent sight of the city.
Its name has been written by small grasses. What a beautiful city it is! I felt that I landed in a developed country like England or America.
The driver informed me, “It is the first India’s ‘Smart City’.” I asked him, “How is it smart city? Who has planned this decoration?” He answered, “A satellite is controlling the city. All roads and buildings are mapped by satellite. Automatically all facilities come to the city. The MP has planned this decoration. After death of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the city turned its name into Atal Nagar.”
Yes, he is right. All comes automatically. Water, road light, AC bus service, online buying and selling, WiFi, open gymnasium, modern road, a lot of park, free fishing and water music, making the city fantastic.
Public transports are few here because most of the people are driving bikes which cost only RS15-30 thousand. The price of a second hand Passion Bike is Rs8,000 which is worth of bicycle in Bangladesh.
When the car was entering the city, I saw a lady with Hijjab driving his scooty. I thought that it was a good sign. At last I saw a Muslim lady in the town. O ma! They are coming, coming and coming. Being puzzled I asked the driver, “Are the girls Muslims?” “No”. What nonsense thinking I thought! I again asked him, “Why have they worn Hijjab to cover their faces?” His answer was, “They use much makeup. Heat makes them unease. So, they wear Hijjab.”
I also found another thing observing their culture. Whatever, they are enjoying the dividend of using Hijjab. It’s a good sign and first step to become a Muslim. Airtel mobile company is the best in India. Everywhere you are you can connect with internet by Airtel.
There are other mobile companies but they are not any match with Airtel when the question of internet service comes to. If you have a Kolkata Airtel SIM, you can talk to Bangladesh at a cost of Rs1.99 which is better than our GP to GP, Banglalink to Banglalink, Robi to Robi or Airtel to Airtel. Just you have to recharge Rs7. It is called power recharge for only Kolkata Airtel SIM. Its validity is 28 days! Not only that facility, but also you can get 1 GB internet/day, you will recharge only Rs149. Its validity is 28 days! Can you imagine?
And you will be able to talk all India without any cost at any operator. Most probably, there is no thief in this district. That is why there are many valuable bicycles, cycling Rs10/hour but free for the first 29 minutes, under a shed by the road where no men are living near around.
400 cc motor bikes are kept on the road all night. Nobody touches. There are a lot of cows moving at night, nobody can imagine this situation in Bangladesh.
The cows are seen from the afternoon and vanished before 7 o’clock in the morning. They are sleeping on the road. Buses are whistling. The cows are not caring like road master. They remain unmoved as the lord of the land. Drivers often get down from the bus and push them away. Do you know the reason behind that? There is a law, if a cow dies of accident, the driver will be charged Rs20,000 to be given to the owner. It is not the least. People might kill the driver by hammering. I talked about the state, Chhattisgarh almost same to our country in area, once was under the control of Bangladesh when it was colonial Odisha. Good news is that they love Bangladeshi people more than people of West Bengal. The reason is unknown to me though we, Bangladeshi, quarrel with our own blood.