Journey to Kolkata……16th & 17th January’2010
Journey to Kolkata….16th & 17th January’2010….
Kolkata, the name, the place, the people, the living, the reveries has always been and remains an integral part of my world., my life., my existence.
This time, purposely, I wanted to take my own time to travel & approach, this city close to my heart. Frankly when I booked my “Duronto” train tickets, I had all the possible options to travel by air, the fares almost equal to my travel of 27hrs. journey by road. In fact, I wanted to relish the experience of traveling, this newly launched, Duronto, for its own valid reasons. The fastest non-stop train between Kolkata & Mumbai. The journey is being relayed from the train itself, while I just passed Kharagpur station at 5.1.5 pm on Sunday(17th Jan). It’s a further 100 minutes journey to Howrah station from here. From the first hour of boarding on 16th at 5.15 pm. from Mumbai CST, I am impressed by the look, the cleanliness & the service all throughout. Timely meals, polite and prompt services and fantastic ear pleasing instrumentals varying in different degrees from classical to Hindi oldies…
One of the other, in fact more pronounced reason of travelling by road, is that, my interaction with Kolkata is after a long gap of almost 25 months; more than two years. I wanted to get myself soaked into the process of getting merged with my city, before I actually have physical stepping on to its roads. The journey, in its entireity, gave me full feel of what’s in store for me for the next 8 days of my stay in Kolkata. Made good friends, visited few of my past years with couple of co-travellers, talked about schooling, high school, friends, as if the clock was back-set for me by almost 20 years., specially during this journey.
The journey gave me enough time for myself, to be with a couple of my favourite books allowing me to do full justice to the author’s intentions. I, always felt that, when we travel from one place to another by the fastest means, by air, its like watching a film on fast-forward track. Its like you have a time bound job to complete a movie and nothing better than but to watch it under fast-forward to save as much as the time as possible. The journey of 2000 kms + by train, allowed me to carry & savour the glimpses, the feel of every passing village, towns, cities coming on the way. Actually, few of the instances gave me the opportunity to live in few moments of their lives with them, merely staring, the way they went about with their work. Saw boys playing cricket on the fields , could see them diving into the small village side pond for their afternoon bath, few of them gathered under a tree for their Sunday afternoon meetings or just meeting few whom they can’t keep track with, during weekdays.
Besides above, the thoughts of few important events which I am going to catch up with, in the next 8 days, kept me occupied. I could re-wined the biological & historical clock in me and could count the steps climbed at different stages to reach to this height (which I personally feel is one of the most convenient times of my life). It’s been a good volume of “receiving” from all, be it from the family, the school, the friends, the teachers, the colleagues. Its surely, I feel, is a time to “give back” and “contribute” my bit for the well beings of people , community and society in general, which touched my life at every step by some means or the other and played a major role in my journey of life, all throughout.
“Sarswati Puja”, in Kolkata is one of the events of great importance in my life. We, friends, organized this puja for almost 7 to 8 years ( if I am not wrong on my chronological track) in the eighties. I owe my ability with words, speech & communication solely to the heartfelt prayers done during this puja. The 20th of January, Wednesday, during my current stay in Kolkata, we, friends are trying our best to re-organize this event at very much the same place and in very much the same way. Though we have some technical hindrances, but I am sincerely looking forward to pull this through. This being one of my most important reasons for being in Kolkata this time.
Secondly, and in fact quite fortunately, our “Gyan Prabodhini” project, being initiated by us – “Class of 1987 batch – J J Ajmera High School” is being launched on the same auspicious day of Sarswati Puja. Under this scheme of things we are going to support few students/families, who are financially not competent enough to carry the burden of studies and education within the existing income slabs. These students would be supported and allowed complete education with equal opportunities along with the rest. We are also looking for the few, the cream, at high school levels who seem to have promising ability to create a space for themselves in the higher technical studies. They would be given extra coaching and training (if having financial constraints) and would be allowed to get merged into main stream of competitive environment with equal opportunities. Now, as fortunate as I could get, we have a project launching on 20th which would give me full chance and opportunity to be in the thick of the things. Wow!! Couldn’t have asked for more.
Besides above, meeting old friends at your own old base, is like a feeling of coming back home to the roots. Thanks to my all friends there, who encouraged me to really make myself up for this trip and have lined up a good meet-up in the form of an overnight outing. I can hardly wait to get submerged into the warmth of my earlier days.
The first twenty two years of my life in Kolkata (then Calcutta) surely helped & prepared me to face the best and worst of the life to come. Though few of such things always came in unintentional, unplanned, surprised packages; but could unravel its importance in my scheme of things with each passing year of my life, away from Kolkata. I could not resist myself thanking and acknowledging each of the stepping stones which came across me during my earlier days of Kolkata. And undoubtedly, these stepping stones were highly instrumental in helping me to convert them into mile stones in my personal & professional life of the next 18 years in Mumbai, till as on now.
The only regret of the trip till now is the absence of “Rupa”. I would have felt a sense of completeness, if she could have had managed to join this trip with me, which is more of a journey full of nostalgia for me. Unfortunately for me & her too, she had her own valid reasons, preferences and prior commitments to be not able to join this trip. She too, certainly has a deep regret for not being able to make up. But she is going to be around (in my thoughts) in all my moments of great experience in Kolkata.