Monday, April 6, 2009

From Conversations in a local train: A lovestory to begin.

For a Fortnight, I am a city dweller in Kolkata along with a part of my team. During the last reconnaissance survey we located a new iron ore mineralised area and now some primary confirmatory lab. tests are to be performed for making further decisions of prospecting.

While my team stays at the saltlake guesthouse, I commute from my flat at Barrackpore, a suburb town of Kolkata,by local train. The live comments of the commuters on the daily happenings and the lectures of the Hawkers soliciting to buy their products make my journey, from Barrackpore to Bidhannagar(the nearest boarding point for Salt lake) and back, very interesting and thought provoking. For safe and quick boarding into compartment and landing at destinations I learnt to become a flexible object to "crowd pressure".

But today, the waiting crowds for boarding from the Bidhannagar station was much more than usual. The previous technique as applied by me in other days did not work. Missing my usual galloping "Shantipore" local , somehow rather I could manage to board an all stoppage "Gede" local to Barrackpore

By now overhearing from the conversations I learnt despite the market recessions some companies, at the close of the financial year, are making bulk recruitment. The crowd, dominated by job aspirant youths, was divided into two categories"haves"and "have nots"i.e. Those who pocketed the "Appo-letters" and the angry faced"sorry this time" the rest.

The great pushing power instantly transferred me from the entrance to corridor of the compartment. "Lady Luck" has been kind enough to place me the coveted position of "under the fans"position. I had a glimpse of the two rows of of sitting accommodations facing each other. Both were occupied by more than the capacity.
Four all fatty elderly gentlemen occupied the row left to me and five young girls chirping continuously occupied the opposite row. Each girl was trying to let the whole compartment know how they outsmarted the "boys" competing for the posts and they bagged all the jobs except one.
The train started moving and some young men pushed sideways and soon they managed to stand between the rows of benches. The cool airs from the windows are now blocked. The chirping group immediately opposed this blocking.

"Why all of you are here only, You are choking us to die."

The youth standing next to window snarled" You are lucky to be seated, people standing here are managing with this"

" If we are lucky today that is none of our fault and that does not limit us not to have air."Hearing this reply from the girls one of the youth standing in a farthest corner said " you and your group should have taken little effort to walk one compartment further and gone to Ladies compartment, you are trying to eat the cake both the way"
Another joined " Why should girls have all the fun?"(copying the tone of a popular TV ad. Jingle).

Opposing strongly the young lady sitting next to window flared up"Come and sit here and have some share of the fun we are enjoying and shall continue to do so."
The youth sweating and standing next to her said dryly" You may be having great time with those appo-letters but these were meant for us at least they advertised like that and at the end of the day...."
The youth at the furthest end of the passage shouted with his shrill voice" They told us before the GD the office posts are for the girls and the outdoor jobs are for the boys. But at the end, except Ritu, all were girls. Well! after all Ritu maintains a long hair and unlike us he has a sweet face so he could made it to the final round, the session with the H.R."
These hot discussions soon attracted other co-passengers. Discussions, comments and suggestions came flowing one after another. By now people are aware of the fact that these boys and girls attended an interview today. The girls bagged all the jobs except one.
The elderly gentleman sitting in the opposite row and dozing often now straightened up " I work in a small refrigeration agency for servicing, maintenance and repairs of branded products. Ladies maintain the front office as well as well as the outdoor jobs including attending the clients problems at their premises. Both the boys and girls received on the job training and clients give us good feedback when girl attend the the problems" With applause from the opposite bench the gentleman carefully remained silent about the performance of the "boys" in his company.

The discussions soon turned around with related topics like "Survival of the best", " economic islands"etc. Someone said" I am in H.R. I find it difficult to distinguish the shortlisted candidates after we conduct on the spot tests. The failures or successes depends whether it is the candidate's day or not."
His friend said " when the jobs are scarce and you find all the candidates almost at per you make another criteria. Take the family employment status into account." 
The H.R man scratching his head said" I do not get you there" 
His friend replied" out of the two otherwise equal candidates, take the one in whose family no one is employed or earns significantly to maintain the family" 
Another elderly gentleman, now nearing his destination, vacated his seat and made room for one of the youths said "He made a good point. The candidate so chosen shall work better than the other for the survival of his family." 
Girls sitting and enjoying all the conversations now broke the silence" Excuse me sir. You are possibly encroaching into the right to earn and do you mean to say that in today's nucleus family both the husband and wife should not work.?"
The gentleman now joining the queue towards the exit passage said in a loud voice " Many of your rights are now only in the pages of that constitution book. Do you protest there? Further, an unemployed man, when employed, possibly may marry another unemployed woman. But do any one of you with fresh appo. letter in your pocket shall agree to marry another unemployed man?" The gentleman was pushed out in a moment to his destination point leaving the girls silent.

I was lucky at the next station to sit beside the "today's angry young man". During the heated conversation, I came to know his name as well as the name of the girl sitting opposite to him as Sudeb and Krishna. 
I saw them gazing at each other with exchange of smiles. Let this happening mature further to a "love -Story". If I assume Sudeb to continue as unemployed I do not know who may propose and who shall give the approving nod. Do you know?


Smita Tewari said...

You write v. well, with the style of an incurable romantic!
I thought you were in Vizag, where exactly are you?

SGD said...

So many a love story has been sacrificed at the alter of practicality and stark reality...more so in these times of recession. Marriages are supposedly falling apart, budding relationships are being nipped in the bud!
We are living in a material world...where romance is only in the fringes to be indulged by the 'haves' and not 'have-nots'

Koel said...

Interesting conversation - will never cease to excite people from both genders, of all ages...
Journey to Barrackpore evokes memories of my stay at that place around 2 decades back....

Sucharita Sarkar said...

Loved this post, Pradipda.
You took me back to the daily-passenger-i days in Barrackpore Local and the conversations, quarrels and affairs therein.

ugich konitari said...

Somehow I can visualize this only in a local in Kolkatta. People in the Mumbai locals have become fairly mechanzied. You listen, you get up , get crushed, squeeze your way out, and you leave when your station arrives. I think the Kolkata locals are much more civilized....

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Lazyani said...

A post with a different background Pradipda, but so similar otherwise. The difference of opinion pushed converastion between individuals separated by either caste or creed or sex or colour.
What is interesting is that there are always more than one angle to any conversation but no perfect please all solution.
Sir, your ability to notice small things and read into it is phenomenal.
Looking forward to more from you.

Little Girl Lost said...

hello pradip...
i loved this story, not least because of the image of the locals in kolkata, with which so many memories are associated...
and your style of writing is just delicious.
first time here. loved it totally. hope to keep coming back.

take care. do visit.

Mampi said...

wah wah,,,
do update us soon on the love lorn couple.

umashankar said...

Pradip, that was a riveting exchange in a choking local train. Regardless of the consequence, it is rippling with contrasting emotions.

Crowds in Mumbai, as Suranga has astutely observed, are mechanical and cold and I believe it is a similar story in Delhi too.