India is perhaps one of the best countries so far the digital connectivity is concerned. Rajesh’s call that I received from New York in Rajdhani was one confirmation of the connected and transforming India. But a little before that, I was surprisingly pleased to get a call on my cell phone almost as soon as our train left New Delhi railway station. That was from my old acquaintance and very close friend SK Singh who has now settled in Jamshedpur after a long stint in Tata Motors. As he informed, he has now subscribed to Internet connection, as I suggested and so can be in touch with me.
Even after our very bad experience at New Delhi Railway Station, we got delighted after finding very nice co passengers. Surprisingly, it was a group of so called minority with one family from Bangladesh with two host families from West Bengal. The two daughters of Bangladeshi family in their early teens were speaking very good Hindi, and as they and their parents claimed, that was all because of Hindi cinemas on TV. Unfortunately, the two brothers of the family from Burdwan, West Bengal were not so fluent in Hindi. The four had the latest information about Hindi films and its actors and actresses. The group had visited all the places of tourists’ importance near Delhi, Jaipur, Agra, Vrindavan and Mathura. As I could gather clearly from their conversations, they had visited all the temples too. I could also conclude that the children from the West Bengal were missing their Sarswati Puja, as they were in train. They also offer puspa-anjali to mother Sarswati. The whole atmosphere around us in the compartment got very pleasant. Yamuna and I enjoyed the conversation with them and that included my counseling to those girls and boys about education, learning, and career. I talked about the learning of maths, science, language, and even engineering through videos already available through internet. Their parents also got impressed and were enjoying our conversations, though they were businessmen dealing in rice trade. In the morning, the little Gauri joined the Bangladeshi girls with all her naughty actions. Gauri never bothered about the communal difference with the girls. Why can’t the whole India live in this sort of amity? Why should there be conflicts among the people based on caste, community, religion, and language?
Our biggest surprise was for the ticket checker who happened to be Hari Sankar of village Arthu near Madhukarpur, Yamuna’s birthplace. I had once given Hari Sankar a job in Hindustan Motors when he was very young and unemployed some thirty years ago. Later on, he appeared in some examination and got selected in Indian Railways, the biggest employer of the country. Hari Sankar could recognize me and then Yamuna. It is quite unlike the young men of these days who hardly care about the elderly people once they become of no importance to them. Hari Sankar managed to provide the best of services to us through the pantry staffs. One of his men also took our luggage down at Howrah. We had by then become important persons in the eyes of the co-passengers.
Unfortunately, Kolkata remains still a dead city so far the development is concerned. The famed Calcutta taxis of Ambassador Brand of old era remain as eyesores, and so is the filth all around and the small dirty stalls that have mushroomed everywhere, be it just in front of the Howrah station or around the administrative offices in Salt Lake. I could notice deterioration, particularly in Salt Lake. It appears all construction works have stopped. Roads have not undergone resurfacing. As I smell Buddha has lost his interest in development works after Singur episode when Tata Motors packed up from West Bengal. Perhaps the hope that Buddha’s aggressive initiatives to development in West Bengal have died prematurely. West Bengal is standing still. The people don’t want any change. And as usual, if there is no development and progress, there can only be deterioration. And there are plenty of signs of that in the stories of abductions and strikes at Haldia and dyeing Hindustan Motors that I started hearing as soon as I got into West Bengal.