Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Let us be NEW

While sitting on my bench on the platform I find the Sun dipped down below the horizon. The last Sun of 2008 has gone. The year 2008 is past. We are at the threshold of a New year-2009. Is the past important to us anyway? No. It has gone forever from our life leaving us as memories. Has it taught us anything to use it as a light in the virgin and unknown path we have to tread on now? But whom does it show with its light and for what? Are we ourselves are not new now? There is nothing as path as such-a path that has been drawn beforehand for a journey. Actually we travel through ourselves and thereby a path is created. I'm the path and the traveller both and simultaneously. But there is a word –'experience' –one would say and it guides us from its source in the past. But life can not be taught nor can life teach. Life prepares us. Like nature-life grows. The more we grow the more we are near to light-the more we know the more we feel what we need more. We become conscious. An ape can not know what a man needs. The whole past has prepared us, made us as light itself to know, or to discover, a path hitherto unknown to us. We have been carrying a light, an urge for something of which we can only be aware of by becoming continually more –more than what we were in the past. It is Man who wants to be new by finding a way –and constantly is after it. He lives in time and so he is in need of a new beginning. He has been continually becoming a new man in pursuance of an inner future. Let us be fulfilled in mortal time through the immortal newness. "Man is Nature's great term of transition in which she grows conscious of her aim; in him she looks up from the animal with open eyes towards the divine ideal." May we be closer to this divine ideal consciously when a new time knocks at our door!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Identity of a memory

I was sitting on the bench when I heard it-a sound. I should better say that I felt the sound. It was an indefinable sound as I do not know in what way I can be more specific about it. Was it a feeling –amplified? I felt something but I failed to form it. It was something going off leaving in its trail a rumbling referring to an experience I had had in my far off past. I tried to be near to that experience. As I thought of catching it in its body- it became lost altogether in the very next moment! But what was significant and surprising that I was given a feeling of knowing it more than anything that was associated with my life. So I had to dig myself in order to find the root of that experience. It did not refer to any event but it had an essence of a tale.

Did it remind me of something I had forgotten? It was as if I was incapable of reading my own letter I had written to my dearest person. And the tragedy was that I could only remember her face if I could decipher what I had written!

I was falling to my bottom as I went on digging through me. After sometime I got near to a misty zone and had the faint touch of what I had lost. But more I was nearing it the more I got myself dissolved in that mist. I started losing myself and almost lost. At that moment the whole world started vibrating and I woke up by a terrible jerk. The brilliant light of the engine of 2115 UP fell on my face. It was entering the station.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Death of a hero

I had friendship with a person. The man would come to Sitarampur railway station everyday to catch the first train for his destination –Nilganj, a town, thirty miles from Sitarampur. Unlike Sitarampur –it was a developed township. Rajen –my friend worked there in a big grocery shop. His duty hours were from 10 am to 6 pm. It was not much rewarding to work there by commuting everyday so far as payment was concerned. The salary just helped his family to exist. There was very little opportunity to earn in Sitarampur. He would return to Sitarampur at 8 pm. Rajen i.e. Rajendra Kumar Jha lived in Sitarampur with his family. We were friends not because of living in the same place of Sitarampur but for our daily visit to the station though for different purposes. The station was for me a place for relaxation but for Rajen –his struggle for life started from this place. He had to catch the train somehow unless there was no way to reach Nilganj.
Rajen had had an ambition and he told me many times that he liked to be an officer in a merchant bank in Patna or any big city. But he could not continue his studies after passing Matriculation exam for untimely death of his father when the whole responsibility of running the family had fallen on him. So he had to forsake his ambition and had started working in the grocery shop.
That was many years ago. Rajen was accustomed to his fate like everyone of this world. But the mind of Rajen –the man who once had loved of dreaming for an enviable position in life remained the same. But I never heard Rajen grumbling for his unfulfilled ambition and living a humble life in a village where people even were unaware of other modes of life full of comfort, convenience and with enlightened atmosphere. Perhaps Rajen was very practical and a down to earth person who knew it was foolish to remain in unfulfilled dreams. So his aspiring nature meandered through the incidents and happenings of various other lives where he took sides for his favourites and sought fulfilment in their success. He was a supporter of Mohanbagan Football Club and sometime it appeared that meaning of his existence depended on the Club’s winning the league. Rajen was an admirer of the author Sarat Chatterjee like many people. Rajen read Sarat Chatterjee in Hindi translation and bore a strong opinion that the author should have been awarded the Nobel Prize in literature. He took it personally for this wrong and considered it as an unfortunate reality of his life. Rajen read newspaper regularly. He bought it in Nilganj as the newspapers were not available in Sitarampur in a regular manner. It was considered a luxury to buy newspaper for reading –as nobody with the same financial position as Rajen’s could think of spending the hard-earned money on such fashion as buying newspapers. It was unnecessary for existence –as necessity was defined in Sitarampur. But Rajen did not live merely in his small family and in a rustic township-Sitarampur. He wanted to belong to a different milieu his failure to getting a handsome urban job notwithstanding. Or perhaps more for that?
One day Rajen told me an incident which he read in a newspaper. The incident was hotly discussed in cities all over India and it was an interesting event in legal circle. I knew it from Rajen- that the mica mines once owned by the British were now under the proprietorship of a big industrialist Anil Patel. There were other brothers of Anil Patel in the business. The Patel family had many industries in different states of India owned jointly by the members of Patel family including the eldest Anil Patel. But the mica mines was exclusively owned by Anil and the other brothers had no share in this mica business. After the sudden and untimely death of Anil, the business fell in the hands of Ratnavali Devi –the widow of Anil Patel. Ratnavali was an educated person. She had been graduated from the Cambridge University and very much informed one in all modern matters of the world including the complexities of business administration. She had actively helped her husband in his business. After the death of her husband she became the main shareholder of the Patel industries. But the mica mines fell exclusively under her personal ownership. Jayant Mehta was a chartered accountant and had assisted Anil as his chief secretary. Jayant was a very efficient person and his personal integrity was beyond question. So after the death of Anil –Ratnavali depended much on Jayant in managing her business. Actually Jayant had been considered as one of the family of Anil Patel although officially he was mere a paid secretary. After Anil’s death his involvement in the family grew as Ratnavali gradually inclined to see him as a son. The couple was childless. So perhaps it was natural that Jayant won the motherly affection of Ratnavali after Anil’s death.
Ratnavali managed her portion of the family business efficiently including her own –the mica mines-for which she depended much on Jayant. After a decade of Anil’s death Ratnavali followed her husband at the age of seventy. When the religious rituals associated with death were over-Jayant declared to the shock and surprise of everyone of the Patel family-that Ratnavali had left a will in which she gifted the mica mines to Jayant unconditionally.
Here began the drama that stirred all the business houses and the legal circle. Jayant applied to the court for the probate of the will of Ratnavali. The whole Patel family opposed the will going its easy course in favour of Jayant. The probate application was contested by the other Patels.
Rajen would read in the newspaper the course of this event with keen interest. Everyday when he returned from Nilganj he narrated the recent developments of the court case that he had read in that day’s newspaper. He was visibly happy for the turn of fate of Jayant. As he narrated the proceedings –he became exited. Even he became well-informed in the intricacies of legal matters-of which he had had the least knowledge two months ago. Jayant appeared to be his own client and so he felt restless on the dates of hearings of this case. He got so tensed that if he were the judge he would have given the judgement in a month’s time –and definitely in favour of Jayant! On a day when he got down from the train in Sitarampur I asked him “What happened –you look so disgusted?” He told me “The court will hear the case after summer holidays. The court-people in India should not enjoy holidays like the school teachers when thousands of cases are pending for years. The Patel-Jayant case will be heard when the court opens in July.” I felt for him. It was as if Rajen who fought the Patels in the court! One day I asked –“Who do you think have the chance of winning the case?” He instantly retorted “Jayant has every moral and legal reason in favour of him by virtue of the will of Ratnavali. Patels have money power to influence the course in their favour. Jayant is a small fry-compared to them. It all depends on the witnesses in the will now. Patels may try to purchase them. But let us see the will of the God.”
Jayant won a major battle when the court rejected in July - the objection of the Patels against registering the will for probate hearing. Rajen –burst with a winning glee while breaking the news in the evening. The date of the next hearing was fixed after fifteen days. He told “The major battle is over. Now it will be a cake-walk for Jayant. All the vakils of the Nilganj court are of the opinion that Jayant has overcome the major ditch.” I have never seen Rajen so happy in the past. He offered me a cigarette. I was surprised as he was not a smoker. “Have you started smoking?” I asked. “No, no –I have bought the two only. Let us celebrate! It’s your brand,-have it. It’s really an occasion-isn’t it? Think of Jayant-he will be a millionaire-which he could not think of in his wildest dream! Fate of a man can never be sealed forever!”
After five days when I went to the station in the evening I found Rajen sitting on the platform bench. I was surprised to see him at that time. “When have you come?” I asked. “In the noon-I took leave from the shop. Jayant died in the last night after a massive heart attack. Oh! He should not have gone! I was waiting for his final victory. But he has not given me the opportunity. He has gone! Life is fun-the battle has comes to its end-without a solution.” He looked dejected. “But –the wife and sons of Jayant are there to continue the case” I said to Rajen. He remained silent for a moment and then said “What’s the use? The fate of Jayant has gone with him unchanged. I have no concern for his family.”
The 2115 UP arrived and was gone meanwhile. In the dim light of the platform I looked at Rajen-a man –none has tasted defeat like him in this world. He got the opportunity of waging a battle against a fait accompli through Jayant –but he lost it.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

None to return

It is advised to read the earlier post "Home" before reading this.

Ramprasad was transferred to a station near to his home. He did not expect that his application for transfer to his desired station would get the approval of the authority so soon. But hopes are sometimes fulfilled in this world which seems always to stand against individual preferences only to make fun with its own woldly norms. So one day he packed up his bag and left Sitarampur. The transfer order came all on a sudden only fifteen days after Mallika and her brother had left for their home.

It was a unique situation for me as I always was sympathetic for Ramprasad –who had become a close friend-for his lonely life here in Sitarampur leaving his wife, child and parents in a far away home. So I congratulated him for his good luck. But at the same time I was to lose someone who was perhaps more than a family member in my so called ‘home’. I knew that it was a permanent parting of ways for us as Ramprasad would never come back to this small rural railway station in future.

During Mallika’s brief stay here-the air of Sitarampur had been filled with fragrance and she had induced a seeking in me for a permanence. I had not exactly realised this so far unaccustomed element in my psychology. But I had lost that cosiness of living in one’s preferred place after she had left. The coming and going of the trains had turned the platform and the cosiest bench on it as something abandoned. Mallika had put me in embarrassment for not inviting her just at the last moment she had been leaving me. On sitting over the bench of the platform I had many times –in my silent uttering-told Mallika that Sitarampur had been a lesser world for me after she had left. In the impermanence air of the platform –the inarticulate invitation meant a vague hollowness.

But we mortals live in extended time. So I hoped that next time when Ramaprasad would go to his home I would send my invitation to Mallika through him. I had asked Ramprasad several times about his next visit to his home. A sad smile appeared on his face every time I asked him of it. He did not know that I was sadder than him for his not having the opportunity to visit his home so soon! I always carried a sense of hurriedness like that person who was a bit late and so was hurried in his steps of walking to catch the last train. I would have to mend my lapse by inviting Mallika. But however impermanent the world might be it was certain to me that sooner or later Ramprasad would have his leave application approved by his authority. But sometime our fate gives more than what we want. So Ramprasad’s original application for transfer was approved in an unusual swiftness.

The relieving station master had already taken charges and we all like so many similar occasions in different times and with different persons were waiting for the 2115 UP on the platform. Ramprasad like a good friend became sad for leaving me –as both of us knew that we would never meet again. The 2115 UP arrived and Ramprasad boarded the train.

The train left with Ramprasad in a few minutes. This time I had been robbed of my opportunity to invite Mallika. Mallika was forever lost in the impermanence air of the railway platform.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


The present station master was a very amiable person. So he was a good friend to many persons. But here in Sitarampur station he was a waste thanks to those who had transferred him to this station which served only a small township. Mr.Ramprasad Jha –the station master, was an educated person. He had an M.A. degree in history from Patna University. But I liked him because he had an educated mind and was interested in many things of this world and he formed or made opinions depending on his own understanding in the secluded enlightenment of his mind’s inner chamber in stead of being influenced by others. But all his qualities were superfluous and useless to his authorities who needed only a dutiful station master who would never worry his mind thinking about the future of the world or poverty. So Ramprasad felt himself lonely in Sitarampur. Even newspapers were not available. One would have to go to the bazaar to get a
two-day stale newspaper.

Naturally we two became friends. We used to discuss many things in the evening in his room in the station. Sometimes we also sat on my favourite bench and discussed perhaps all things under the sun. As a few trains ran through Sitarampur Ramprasad had enough time to think of other things than the job of a station master would have involved him in other not so insignificant stations. He lived in his quarters attached to the station. But except for lunch and sleep in the night he usually stayed in the station. He spent most of his leisure in reading books sitting in the station master’s room on the platform. But when I went to the station he kept aside his books and diary and welcomed me with a smile. It was a pleasure for both of us to meet each other.
Ramprasad was a married person. But there were many problems for which it was not possible for him to keep his young wife and his two year old child with him in Sitarampur. He was not well paid to run two families –as he had to support his parents and brothers at his home place. It had not been possible for him to get a better job elsewhere –in spite of his educational qualification. It was difficult in India. So Ramprasad visited his family only when his leave was approved and the authority could manage a person to work here temporarily for his leave period.
One day Ramprasad told me that his brother in law and his sister in law would soon come here in Sitarampur for a few days. They were brother and sister. They loved Ramprasad and so at the first opportunity they felt to make a pleasant trip to Ramprasad’s place. Ramprasad’s wife would not come as she had to look after her aging in-laws. Ramprasad appeared to be very happy at this information and soon became busy preparing his households for the two guests. I also helped him buying this or that thing as would be felt required by the guests.
So one day Nitish and Mallika got down from 2116 DN. Ramprasad received them with great enthusiasm. They were quite young. Nitish was in his mid twenties and Mallika appeared to have just crossed her teens. Ramprasad was a little busy as the train was yet to leave the station and so I accompanied them and brought them to the station master’s room. Both of them were handsome and jovial as was evident in our casual exchanges in the room of the station master. Keshav the tea man had come to know that they were close relatives of the Masterjee (station master) and so he brought biscuits and tea for us. Mallika told me “Our journey seem to have not yet ended” and turning to her brother said “as if we are resting in a waiting room in the platform!”
I said to Mallika, “But it’s also the real home to Ramprasad and for me it has the warmth of a home and more comfortable a place-psychologically”
“Is it? A railway platform can not be a living place.” –Mallika said in reply. “But why?”- I asked. “It is because the place is not a stable place at all. You can not make a station your address. It exists in transition. One does not come here. When one wants to leave a place-he uses it as a diving board.”-Mallika replied with a smile and continued “Where do you like to dive into to feel comfortable?” “Into my mind.” I said also with a smile. Nitish –so far had not sppken –but shared the conversation with a silent smile now burst into laughter for my statement. Ramprasad entered the room and told them with an apologetic quick tone “Let us go to home. Oh! You are so tired!” The three rose up and went for Ramaprasad’s quarters. After walking a distance Mallika looked back and told “We’ll visit you in your home here again.” I replied with a loud voice “You are heartily welcome.”
They came here the next evening and we three were joined together and sat on my favourite bench. Ramprasad was busy in his room. Nitish told that they had been busy in setting Ramprasad’s household which was in a mess. Mallika cooked, especially for Ramprasad, who –she thought, should relish his favourite dishes at least for a few days they would stay here. At this point I said to Mallika “Can you cook well?”
She retorted “How can I tell it? The taste of a food is proved in its eating” and quickly asked “What are your favourite dishes?”
“There are too many”, I continued “and you’ll need many days to exhaust the menu”.
Mallika smiled and said “Why have you not married yet? A food-lover should not remain a bachelor” At this point Nitish told us that he was going to see the surroundings of the railway station. After he left I said “Mallika, you are right perhaps ” I continued “ but whether there is anyone in this world who will agree to sharing a life with a person who is a vagabond like me –and loves spending more time in the station than in his house?”
“May be a woman could have made a home for you elsewhere.” Mallika replied thoughtfully looking to where the rails blurred in the distant far.
Nitish returned and came to us followed by Ramprasad and Keshav. So we all sat on the bench and keshav entertained us with his hot tea. He told that this tea was special. He refused to take money this time and requested us to have it as the two were also his invitees.
I told Mallika “See! The platform has become a home now!”
All burst into laughter.
They next day I had an urgent work and so I could not visit the station and my new found friends. I had asked their permission telling “Sorry for not seeing you tomorrow-I have an urgent preoccupation. I’m sad to leave you here.”
Mallika had retorted “You are leaving us in your home! Don’t be sad!”
I had returned in the night. So in the morning I went straight to Ramprasad’s quarters. Mallika seemed to be very happy as she has found me in a home now. She prepared tea for me and told me with her typical naughty smile “It is not as good as Keshav’s! But what else can I do?”
Nitish and Ramprasad laughed loudly at her remark.
In the evening Mallika and Nitish came to the station as their sojourn in Sitarampur ended. Ramprasad was also with them. I was there from before an hour of their reaching the station.
Nitish was talking with Ramprasad about his transfer from Sitarampur. Perhaps they were not happy to see the way Ramprasad lived here. It was really bad to live in so far a place leaving one’s wife, child and parents. At this time the bell-man rang the bell. The passengers became alerted. In a minute the face of 2115 UP appeared in the far.
“Good bye!”-Mallika told. The train stopped at the platform. Ramprasad looked sad.
We all boarded the train and helped Mallika and Nitish to sit comfortably.
Nitish again thanked me for my enjoyable accompaniment for these days. The whistle blew and Ramaprasad and I got down from the train. The 2115 UP moved nonchalantly. Mallika, looking through the window threw her words to me, “You have not invited me to come again, have you?” The train passed without caring to pause to allow me to say anything. Mallika had told me on the first day that the station was not a place to go or come to. One goes there in order to leave for somewhere.
For the first time in my life I was robbed of my home in that somber evening.

Friday, August 15, 2008

A tale without an end

Most people, perhaps all want to live in a far greater world than the physical or
nsense practical local world they are habituated to live in. In the morning people eagerly wait for the newspaper to know about the events of the world –that do not have always any bearing on their day-to-day life. Still there lies a subtle concern for that outer world that belongs to them also in their greater selves. If for any reason newspaper is not available to a person on a morning day the reaction is as bad as taking one’s bread without butter. The sense lies in an absence of a required something. One may argue that the discomfort or uneasiness lies essentially in habitual attachment and not in failing to have a link to the outer world. To them I must say that they are partly correct as human beings in their very nature are inclined to move in mechanical routine to feel the existence comfortable. The blatant example of such attachment to mechanical repetition is the existence of creeds in religions. Most believers can not stick to their gods without creeds. Man loves to make everything into religion as they are comfortable in routine and creeds to stick to. But at the same time there exists a greater being in man though not predominantly active and free in reigning in over the ways of life. So what we see in man is the interplay of these two opposite tendencies –the impulse to return to inertness and a will or want for freedom for something otherwise and different from all that limit his soul’s aspiration. But I think I have already been far from my actual position behind my raising the issue of morning newspaper. Actually I wanted to say that as a newspaper brings to man the whole outer world of life which touches him in a greater way so was the platform of Sitarampur railway station to me. I could breathe greater life there. To be true to my feeling I touched life there also which one can not find in the cold and fixed letters of a newspaper. A newspaper makes the world small and the facts can not carry mysteries. It is an official statement or may even be a documentary on life but not the life itself. On the other hand I got a sense of far in Sitarampur station. I found there unknown also. There hung about tales in the station –tales of which I could never know the ends. It was a miniature of a living world to me. Nothing begins or ends in a railway station. So I visited the station frequently without any practical necessity and stayed there for sometime. Generally I strolled along the long platform when it was not train-time. Most of the time I liked to sit on the bench under the tree and roamed in mind’s own ways.

The other day when
I went to the station I found very few people a
s it was much before the time of arrivals of both the up and down trains. Bhola –a dog who also made the station its home –was sleeping near the station-master’s room. As I walked along the platform I found someone sitting on the bench which was my favourite. There were other benches but I liked it as it was under a tree and was at the outer end of the platform. I went near the bench and gave him a closer look. He appeared to be a Bengali like me. There was no Bengali living in Sitarampur except me and so I thought that he was waiting for 2115 UP. But for that matter the travellers generally did not rest on this bench. While I was thinking about him apparently without showing any interest for him –he suddenly told me showing the other side of the bench, “You may sit here”. And he moved a little to make a comfortable space for me to sit there. I sat beside him. So some casual exchanges went on between us. I came to know that he was not a resident of Sitarampur. Even he had never known the existence of this place before coming here. He had got down here by mistake thinking it his destination-i.e. Balagarh. He had never travelled even in this route before. He had boarded the train as advised by his friend in a letter and whom he had been going to. He had been tired and felt sleepy in the train. So he had requested a co-passenger for making an alert when the train would reach Balagarh. Unfortunately he had been wrongly alerted and as he had been sleepy-he alighted in a hurry. He discovered the mistake after the train had left. So he was waiting for the next train. As he had to wait for two long hours for the next train we tried to get closer to each other as friends and went on talking and discussing many things under the sky and in half an hour we knew each other’s names and relevant information.

Meanwhile I called a porter and asked him
to call Keshav –the Chai-walla. Keshav was very loyal to me and though there was no passenger then for his tea-buisness-he came to me within a few minutes carrying his kettle. So our chatting got a boosting with Keshav’s hot tea and in another half an hour we became friends. Time, which had hung as a heavy burden on my friend when he got down here, overtook his waiting mind now. Slowly a shadow of parting pain gathered about us. So I invited him. I requested him to drop here on his way back to his home from Balagarh. He happily accepted my invitation. The time was rushing towards us by an unavoidable pressure by the imminent 2115 UP that both of us were very much eager to ensure our next meeting together. I told him to drop a letter to the station master here informing him with reference to my name the exact day of his coming so that I would be able to be present at the station to receive him. It was always better to get me under the care of the station master who was my friend. There remained many unfinished discussions and tales which could only be finished on another day under this tree where they were born. The bell on the platform tolled for both the arrival and parting times. We got up and I led him to a suitable place on the platform for boarding a proper and good compartment. In seconds the train rushed in the platform and fixed everyone’s destiny instantly with its overpowering presence. We embraced each other. I reminded him again of my invitation to my home. He boarded the train and got a convenient seat beside a window. None of us at that parting moment felt that we had been strangers to each other even three hours ago. The train left the platform.

I did not receive any letter from Amal (the name of my new found friend) in the next week when he was scheduled to return from Balagarh. But I got it after a year not from Balagarh but from his home. He wrote that he was sorry for not dropping in my place as the return ticket had been bought by his friend in a hurry without knowing my programmed destination. He knew it only after his train had left Balagarh. In spite of that he had not been discouraged as he thought that he would break his journey at my place. But instantaneously he came to discover that he had not known the name of my station as during our discussion the name of the station had never come to our mind as something necessary. I knew it as my home and not by its name and he had never required to know the name of this station as he started for Balagarh station with the ticket he had bought before coming here. Perhaps man is always unaware of most important thing he is living with like air he breathes in. However he had checked the names of all the stations of this route but it had not helped him anymore as the name of Sitarampur was never a known name to him. It was only recently that while discussing the matter with a friend –he referred my name and other matters that he knew about me; he came to know the name of this station as the friend came out to be a common friend of us incidentally. He wrote that he would surely come to me whenever he would find an opportunity.

I did not know whether he would ever find that opportune time as life has always been seeking through its own instincts newer destinations with people and places for telling other tales. So even if he would chance to be here through detour slipping the course of destiny –we would not be able to continue the unfinished tale that had began a year ago under the tree. It would be another tale and also with two different persons though with the same names.

But whatever it might be –a tale never reaches its end in life.

Friday, August 8, 2008


I was away in Delhi and had to stay there for almost two months as my office thought of no other alternative to manage their problems in easier ways than to disturb my stability in staying at Sitarampur. They were used to think that an official action towards any betterment could produce a conceivable result only in changes of their staff's postings . So I had to be transferred temporarily. However finally I could be able to return only because my absence here caused much more troubles than what they faced in Delhi. So –on a Sunday I got down in Sitarampur and felt enlivened with fresh air of this place. I had never thought while staying in Delhi that the air I breathed in was polluted there. Nobody thinks about the quality of air of their living place as air also is tasteless. So for the first time my being tasted something consciously which was as refreshing as one feels after a cold bath in a summer noon.

The train 2116 DN slowly passed from my eyes and erased many persons behind it on the platform. Soon it became an empty place. I had no hurry to go to home. The place which I loved most was not Sitarampur –but its railway station. So the home with all its known surroundings gradually embraced me and I relished that- what people know by the phrase –‘home, sweet home’. I went to the bench and sat on it for rest after many hours’ journey. Actually I did not feel for rest. I was not that tired at all. I was rather feeling an extra vigour perhaps for an inner cheerfulness like a bird for getting back to its known old perch. I looked around my old dear place and the whole surroundings also looked back to me simultaneously and we both knew each other and shared between us a single silent word ‘hello!’. The place I had left two months ago remained perfectly loyal to my eyes now. The trees, the discoloured shade over my head, the round hanging brass plate used for bell, the shanty on the other side of the boundary wall where Keshab- the tea-man lived with his family and the smell of burnt coal were all exactly the same. Perhaps this sense of 'known' lies in discovering something where one essentially belongs to –is a source of a spontaneous and unconscious delight of existence.

Keshab was seen coming toward me carrying his kettle. I looked on the same station clock and instantly knew that it was time for the arrival of 2115 UP. The time –I thought was not changed even. It also returned back with me! Keshab was standing near me and asked me with his friendly smile “When have you come?” etc. He gave me a cup(a disposable earthen pot) of tea. I sipped and instantly felt that I had not tasted tea for the last two months. I always felt that if it was not from Keshab –in the platform of Sitarampur railway station-the tea did not have so much of the taste of tea. While sipping tea and talking to Keshab –like two friends meeting after a long time-I heard the sound of the station bell. The bell rang in my heart and I knew it was coming and tried to find the face of the engine tracing along the far stretched rails. I also discovered many people meanwhile arrived in the platform for catching the 2115 UP.

The 2115 UP train arrived and as usual there was a commotion and the whole station rose to its festive excitement. Now I stood up and entered the room of the station master. I knew him and he also regarded me as one of them-the railway staff as both of us considered the station as our home. But I did not find Kamtaprasad in his seat. Instead I saw an unknown person sitting in his place. He raised his head and looked to me-“Yes?” I told him that I wanted to meet Kamtaprasad-the station master. He stared at me for sometime and asked me the reason. I told him-“Nothing. We are friends. I have been out of station and only returned today. So this is mere courtesy.”

“He has been transferred –to another station ten days ago. I have joined here as his replacement.”-he told me and suddenly began to be busy with his works.

On my way to my home I asked myself “Who remains there in this continuity to roll on?’’

Monday, May 12, 2008

Generating Electricity From Running Train

The other day the station master of Sitarampur Railway Station told me that the railway authority had approved the electrification of the route passing through Sitarampur station. I was sitting on my favourite bench on the platform and was thinking over the matter of this electrification. I knew it would take a long time for materialization of this proposed project. Now the trains were pulled by steam engines here. It is good to avoid stream engine considering pollution and the rapid depletion of coal reserve. Even in the United States
most electricity generated comes from burning coal? In 2006, nearly half i.e. 49% of the country's 4.1 trillion kilowatt-hours of electricity used coal as its source of energy. The situation is same with diesel –driven engines. Moreover India can ill-afford to use diesel for all the railway engines. So electricity is the best option if one can generate it. That was the stream of my thoughts that evening. But India is still a poor generator of electricity she needs badly to meet everyday consumption. It came to my mind suddenly over the possibility of getting electricity from a running train itself. We all know that we need some mechanical energy to move the dynamo for generating electrical energy. So we manipulate in every possible way to utilise constantly all the available means to get mechanical energy. But it is also not easily available situation in any country to get access to some automatic mechanical devices without least compromise. You need coal to produce thermal energy, force of moving water to produce hydroelectricity. And there are some other modes also to move a dynamo like nuclear energy. There can not be an easy way though the wind force and solar energy are being tapped nowadays.

But I thought a novel way of producing electricity simply from a running train while sitting on the platform. For instance if we can manipulate the constant whirling of the wheels of a running train by connecting them with dynamos fitted alongside the wheels –the dynamos would start generating electricity. Initially the engine would have to be driven by electricity from outside overhead electric line. But once the engine gets momentum –it might get electricity from its own running wheels. The driver of the engine might then switch of the connection to overhead source as it is no longer required. The engine itself and all the wheels of the train become a source of mechanical energy for generation of electrical energy free of cost. If the engine is allowed to run without stop it would run perpetually. But the train must stop at stations. So once stopped the engine would require again to get connected to outside source of electricity for its initial movement till it is enabled to generate electricity from the running wheels. But it would reduce the consumption of outside electricity. Moreover –we may charge a battery inside the engine so that the battery may be used to generate initial motion after stops at stations.

One may ask how much electricity can be generated in this way to run a high speed train. Obviously there might be some loss of energy in this process which may affect the engine getting a required momentum. But it all depends of the innovation of technological devices to utilize from the optimum mechanical energy from the running wheels. The modern trains in many countries including Japan run at very high speed. But such trains do not have conventional wheels. For example the modern technology of high speed trains works on magnetic levitation. In that case the device required to be changed in another way.

Finally, the linear motion of a high speed train itself may be used to support the auto-system device for generating electricity.

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