Saturday, 4 January 2014

Trip to Santiniketan

On 31st December i set out on an adventure trip to Santiniketan. The idea was to stay away from campus on New Year's. Left campus at 9.30 pm. Took a metro to M G Road and from there a bus to Howrah. From there i took a train called Kavi Guru express to Bolpur. It reached around 2.30 am. Santiniketan is around 3.5 kilometers away from Bolpur station. I decided to walk. I used the navigation function on my phone to find my way. In between when i thought i lost it i asked some police people who were stationed in a jeep in a junction which way Santiniketan was. They were sceptical, but directed me nevertheless. 
Soon after that three people on a motorbike stopped me. They asked me where i was going. When i asked them who they were they said they were police. I asked them for their id proof. One of them gave me a folded paper which read some name and nothing else. I asked for a photo id proof. They snatched the id they had given me and asked for my id card and what i was doing at that hour of night. I insisted they showed me ther id and asked them which rule denied girls freedom to walk at night. The man who had given me the impoverished id pulled out a passport sized photo of his from it's polyethene slip and said that that was his photo id. I wanted to laugh but managed to control it and make a serious face. After a while they either got bored or scared and left.
[Always ask people who say they are police for id proof. These people were clearly not police. Not that what i did was the safest thing to do. It wasn't. Especially on New Year's]

It was much colder than Kolkata. I walked for an hour in campus looking for a place to stay. I could hear faint beating of drums from far and was trying to locate that. But it was like in The Blair Witch Project. I was going in cirlcles never reaching there. Then i saw a couple on a bike. I stopped them and asked if they could show me a place to stay. They offered to walk me to the place. They were foreigners neither British nor American but they talked in English to each other. May be because i was there. I found that really sweet. The guest house they showed me was shut. I tried banging the lock and getting it opened, but nobody came.
I kept walking for another hour and found a horse shoe shaped rink. I decided to sleep inside that. It was enough to hide me from people. I couldn't get sleep even after half an hour so i decided to go back. It was almost sunrise. 4 am.
More walking in circles. I was famished and my feet were aching from walking. Found a cycle rickshaw after some time and took it with great regret. [I try not to take the cycle rickshaw because i think just like human pulled rickshaw this is also a case of humans carrying the weight of humans. Cycles after all don't have motors. In Kolkata these are almost as frequently opted a transportation option as autorickshaws. There are human pulled rickshaws too here, especially towards North Kolkata. Recently read an article praising the public transport system here and i agree to most of it. But the existence of these two in my opinion is a major blemish on this status of the city] He took me back to the station. The train to Howrah was late by an hour so i caught one to Sealdah. 
On train a fellow passenger was curious about the navigation function on my phone. I tried to explain it as best as i could. He wanted to find Bardhaman on it. Strangely, i was unable to locate it.
Sealdah to Central metro and then back to institute, where everyone was still asleep from the previous night's hangover. I felt rejuvinated. 

Santiniketan is vast. But it was a bit strange to find a dead campus at 3 am. Its never the case here. Someone or the other would be playing music or drinking or even playing badminton. Here 3 am is the average sleeping time. I also found Santiniketan very Hindu. People who have been there tell me that the sense of time there is different. 'Wait for some time' could mean waiting for a couple or more of hours. 

I intend to go there once again to spend some reasonable amount of time, in daylight. Also on the list are Siliguri and the hills thereafter. 

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