Calcutta’s Shoddy Asset – The Railway Station
I think I just gagged while writing that caption. Spare me a moment, please.
Splitting headaches are not what you want to wake up with. Trust me,your head will thereafter proceed to give you trouble throughout the day. Anyway, 5am and I was wide-eyed waiting to go pick my sister up from the railway station.
My english teacher’s been teaching us factual description processes. And now I’m going to do my homework. “Give the factual description of a railways station.” Let’s change the question a little.
As the car slowly (and eventually) reaches the Sealdah crossing, time begins to slow down, and there’s nothing but noise everywhere. The kind that you can’t bear, especially with a headache as bad as a feeling of hammers banging your brain like there’s no tomorrow.
You’ll probably reach the gates of the station in another half an hour and the morning doesn’t look like morning anymore. Because the skies, forget the skies, the air above you is all smoky and gray. And you are then charged a hundred rupees for parking even if you want to station your car for barely seven minutes.
You look around and you are greeted with hoards of people boring their eyes into you, porters screaming their lungs out, literally snatching your luggage away from you in hopes of swindling tourists and earning that extra bonus.
There’s no place to walk, because almost everywhere the empty spaces are filled with the poor dwelling. Both outside and inside.
They’ve tried their had at being modern, but it hasn’t worked out. What does the government think it is capable of anyway!?
Just because they’ve put up an electronic board that reads the arrival and departure of five trains in big bold font, they think they’re hip. And cool. Oh, let’s not forget cool.
There was no space to move, forget being able to walk till the end of the platform where my sister was frantically waiting, all covered in grime with the hopes of seeing the inviting silver shower at home soon.
We walked, my dad and I. Inched one foot at a time, him paving the way for me, me trying to hold my senses in. I’m not a snob, no. I can bear any kind of conditions you put me in.
And I really try too.
Wooden carts laden with cargo, people bumping into each other, foul smelling stalls, everything that you’d wish you wouldn’t run into at 6am is exactly what the place was.
And to think I’d told my dad I’d be able to manage getting Ezz on my own.
Ehh, you know what? I could’ve.
My phone’s continuously buzzing with Ezz’s picture flashing on it and I know it’s no point picking up. “I’m right there, hold on,” I tell her. But of course, it’s impossible to hear anything.
Finally, we reach where the group was waiting. And she came up to me. And all I could say was, “Did you happen to take my Nike ACG shoes with you without asking me?!” “What? No,” she says. “Eh, well. Come on.” I turn away, and she throws her knapsack onto me.
Ezzie’s back 😀
Getting out of the entire mess was a whole other issue altogether. It’s difficult getting in, and it’s worse getting out. People traffic is SO bad and unmanaged that it’s hard to navigate your next step.
Somehow, they love banging into each other.
Daylight seems near as we head out towards the parking lot. But only to be reminded that the dhakis (Bengali locals who play the dhak, which is very much like an oblong drum) had just begun to show disinterested spectators all that they’ve got.
I’m not even averse to such folk music, unless it’s played well and somewhere desirable.
Not in the city’s most over crowded railway station in the wee hours of the morning, no siree.
Oh but no. They just won’t stop despite the glares I can manage. Of course, what can a measley thing like me even do?!
We’re in the car and I can only think of turning on the AC and wishing Imogen Heap on my cellphone can do something to replace the music. Ezzie fiddles with her bag in the backseat. “Pa! Guess what?!” she says excited, with her oh-so-squeakily amiable vocal chords. “What?” he asks, amused. (“Oh, we all love Aashna, she’s the apple of our eye. She’s such a daaaarling. She’s like a piece of candy!” Can I repulse you any further with the sweet tooth talk my parents do? “Urmika? Yeah Whatever.” Bingo, like The Supersonics. I couldn’t ask for a better melt down.)
“Remember you bought me eight Subway cookies when I went for the trip? Well, I have two left! YAY!”
Two Subway chocolate chip cookies. Six days old. Have probably survived all kinds of terrainous, unhygienic conditions right from the previous train journey to this one. Still wrapped in the familiar white paper napkin. She takes one out with her possibly gazillion bacteria covered tiny little hand and offers it to me. “Gee thanks,” I say with some literal, genuine happiness.
Because that was by far the nicest thing I’d witnessed since the two hours after waking up.
Cars rushed in from everywhere, absolutely no control and no one to check rule-flouting. “This is what taxes are paid for,” I thought to myself. Everyone is in such vigorous haste that it doesn’t make a difference if things topple, accidents happen, bla-blah.
We eventually made it home in another forty minutes.
x EdgyShark x