Six Nights in Salt Lake and Two in Rajdhani Express

We came back today to Noida, the place I hate as the people here are so business minded and I like as I can see Noida as a laboratory of surging India. Lalu has earned a name worldwide and particularly in the business schools for his turnaround of Indian Railways that he heads. Unfortunately, I didn’t find any significant change at the main railway station in the capital of the country, New Delhi, he has announced time and again his intention and plans to transform some of the railways stations of the country as good as the best in the world. We felt miserable when Rajdhani entered on the different platform and not on what the digital board was showing. The announcement in public address system was inaudible. We had to transfer the luggage ourselves. It was really difficult for us at this age. The porter had left assuring us that the train would come where he has kept it. I am sure some real management is essential on railway stations. The passengers, and that too many in numbers get hardly any assistance from the railway staffs who are never seen around the train or on platform. Can’t Lalu request some of his fans from among the management school faculty members and students to help him for finding a good practical and easily implement-able solution?

It was comfortable night sleep in the train but next day morning we found the train was running late and as much as two hours or more. My co-passenger who was an advocate in Srirampur was getting restive, as he was to attend some important cases in the court. His cell phone was ringing continuously enquiring about the expected time of his arrival in the court. If Rajdhanis can’t maintain its timings which other train can we expect to do that? Perhaps, time keeping is not the priority for the railway administration or minister.

Unfortunately, the railway has by now no arrangement such as hand trolleys for the passengers to transport their baggage. Passengers are but dependent on porters who are becoming more and more difficult to be handled. I don’t understand why are the trolleys not provided, when people are already having experience of that in all malls and airports.

Vakil and Om Praksh had come on the station and I got rid of some of the worries for finding taxi for Salt Lake or any other problem after reaching AJIRA, CJ-120. While we were busy cleaning and setting the house right for living, my cell phone started ringing. I was shocked to hear that some riot had started in Kolkata. Vakil must go back through the safe route. Fortunately, I could switch on TV and found that some very little known minority forum was behind the problem. TV was showing widespread violence and arson. Army had to go for a flag march for the first time after fifteen years. I took the happenings as a typical Kolkatan one for this City of Joy, as I had seen this or the worst since 1955. It is unfortunate the Kolkata has hardly changed but for some malls such as the City Centre in Salt Lake that we went to one night. I say this based on very little that I saw while moving inside Kolkata for two days to attend the marriage functions of Soni and Avishek, and while going to and coming from Salt Lake residence from Howrah. I tried to talk with a large number of acquaintances of all sorts at the marriage functions as well as during the course of getting some repair works of painting, plumbing, and carpentry done at AJIRA or during day-to-day shopping. While the City Centre of Salt Lake was a happy surprise, the streets and lanes of Kolkata and the permanent occupants of footpaths present the misery of the people of Kolkata at large.

It was very hectic. Yamuna was real busy in getting AJIRA cleaned and lightened as much as it was possible by getting rid of many things that we had collected for many years when we lived in Kolkata. I had a wish to go up to Dakhineswar to see the newly built bridge, but it couldn’t happen.

Winding up and covering everything before leaving any residence is a troublesome affair. We left for Howrah. At station, we remembered we left some sweets in refrigerator. Nothing could be done. We expect Bharati and Vakil to take care of the preliminary cleaning task before we arrive there on January 4, 2008. Will they?

At New Delhi railway station, we found today that there is no prepaid taxi booth. Shouldn’t Laluji arrange this?

But finally I am back and am able to put this entry and that will tell why it was missing for these days.

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