I’m happy to have spend few days with my father last year. We went to Kolkata to attend one of my cousin’s wedding – we went for a week. In between the wedding days, we took a day trip to Hasnabad – by local train which was the last train journey with my dear father. Memories are very precious… right now when i write this post, i can feel and relive those moments again.
There is a railway track near my uncle’s house. Only Hasnabad local train runs up and down on that line. My uncle lives in Barasat – to be more precise – near Kazipara rail gate. Barasat JN. is more closer to his house. I wanted to ride that train – just to see and experience – the train journey itself. To see the landscape, see those unknown railway stations… to read their names… enjoy the beautiful landscape… the feel of the local train – hawkers selling their stuff – from spicy indian gooseberry – to handkerchief – cell phone charger – sweet curd in earthen pot … i was recommend to give it a try, but didn’t get much courage after looking at it – [how hygienic it would be I dint know].
When i told about my idea… baba (my father) was super excited – he had asked – “When can we go”. I suggested -“Tomorrow morning !”. I still remember the look at his face – as excited as i was. So the next day after breakfast, we’re out for our little adventure – as i love to call it.
Reached Barasat station from where we’re to take the Hasnabad local train. I was surprise to see the station so clean. There were man at work – picking all the garbage on the rail track and sweeping the platform. Then taking the garbage out of the platform – that is what made me more surprised. It’s a small junction and still people take so much care for the cleaniness – i felt happy to see. [Unfortunately couldn’t upload the pic … showing some error – so i had to leave it]
Local trains in West Bengal are famous for being more than over crowded -esp. Bongaon local and Hasnabad local. Starting point for these two local trains ( including many others) is Sealdah. Both these trains travel via. Dum Dum JN. to Barasat JN. – from Barasat JN. these two trains take different route. Bongaon local goes to Bongaon via Habrha – Machhalandapur – Gobardanga whereas Hansnabad local goes to Hasnabad via Champapukkur – Bashirhat – Takki. It would be right to say – where these towns end – Bangladesh border starts from there. In other words … they’re last towns at Indian border. Actually at Takki – one can the Bangladesh border just across the Ichhamati river.
We’re little worried about being able to board the crowded local train. My uncle told us – not to worry as it’s not peak hour ie. office hour which is from 8 -10 in the morning and 7-9 in the evening. He was right, the train was pretty empty. We sat by the window seat. Quite excited to enjoy the journey. It is not that i have not been to rural area in West Bengal – as a matter of fact my maternal uncle’s house is some where between Machhalandapur and Bashirhat. Every summer vacation (ie. more or less 2 months) – we used to spend there when we’re in school. Now a days too – we love to go and stay there. Amidst the greenery – pure fresh air – the misty mornings – the lazy afternoons – the stars stud sky – the thousands of fireflies flying around you, looks like twinkling stars – the enjoyment of having hot “samosaa” and the famous “Rosogolla” – Bengal can be synonymous with Rosogolla. Life at countryside is very different. Very relaxing and peaceful. So i have been there – experience it all and yet i was excited … reason was the train ride.
Many stations came and went by – the landscape changed from busy road to many large water body (they are used as fishers – where fish farming is done) – to brickyards – to vegetable and marigold farming.
Most of the stations had very unique names – some of my fav. are Kadambagacchi, Bahira Kalibari (the above station) Lebutala, Malatipur, Ghoraras Ghona, Champapukur.
One thing that i love about Bengal – be it in the city or the countryside – you can get fresh coconut water to drink – anywhere you go – they’re available very fresh and very cheap. Actually there – you get everything very fresh and cheap – be it vegetable – sweets – flowers – fish – different variety of leafy vegies. – except fruits … they’re little expensive there. Of course one can live very happily there – no need to say like every coin has two sides to it – so does a city or country … good and bad.
Framers working in the farm …. these are lady finger – gourd – eggplant. We also saw potato harvesting at many places.
Marigold flower farming … my fav. “Monesters” – the high voltage electricity grid.
These are the brickyard … using the clay rich earth and water to make bricks – Actually they’re in large number – exploiting the land and making quick money – but eventually they’re destroying the landscape and the environment.
These small thatch house like hut is use as tents where one or two people stay at night and guard the fishes from fish theft.
This is a river at Hasnabad …. i wouldn’t locate its name. It is merging with Icchamati river and they eventually end up in Bay of Bengal. While seeing all these – we decide to come back soon next time – We decided – next time we would stay at Takki overnight – take a boat ride – see many more places. This place was not very far some the station – we took an e-rikshaw (rikshaw run by battery) to go around the place and see few things. One of my cousin went with us and she had to return to (Kanchrapara) that very evening – so we had to return to Barasat that evening – and from there she would travel for another 2 hrs to reach her place.
Work on progress …. construction work of a bridge was going on at the time we visited that place.
People traveling by local train. It might not be very crowdy – but still people prefer traveling standing near the gate the passage near it. May be they are confident that no accident may happen with them. By looking at it … it looks really risky and scary – and these trains runs very fast between the stations. I definitely will never take the risk.
P.S. I was reading at many blog that one can buy jaggery or the “gamchha” the handwoven indian towel. They’re very colorful and little cheaper but if you don’t know much about the quality – you better not buy it. Those people selling these stuff – pretend to be very honest and nice but they’re there to make money. Now a days – they don’t hesitate to cheat people. We bought palm jaggery – my maa and baba knows a bit about palm jaggery – how to check if its pure or not – but the man (selling jaggery) insisted on taking jaggery of his choice. We took two of our choice and one of his choice …. but they all were not good and his one was worse. We would get far much better quality at Barasat local market at slightly higher price – for me – paying little more money for better quality does not hurt. At least i would be able to enjoy it.
After spending few hours at Hasnabad and Takki – we took the return train from Takki. So this is more or less all about it …. i don’t think i will go there again any time soon – as it will very much remind me of the time we spend there with Baba – and next time he won’t be with us.