When there is nothing to write home about in India and about Kolkata in particular, a strange incident just happened to me on 13th of April 2013 which I will remember fondly till my dying day!
I use public transport quite often in Kolkata and enjoy my status of a “Senior Citizen” quite freely …rather to my advantage according to my daughter “Rini”. While travelling I always carry a “Shantiniketan” style shoulder” fabric bag which normally contains essential items like a small folding umbrella, a Cap, my house key, my second mobile phone and of course my wallet containing some credit and debit cards besides money.
On 13th April in the morning I entered “Rabindra Sadan” metro station in Kolkata to catch a train to “Sahid Khudiram” station which is nearest to my residence at the southern fringes of the city of Kolkata. While taking the stairs down to platform I found the time to be 10:56 and next train to my destination will be at 10:55 which normally means that the train has just left the platform and the system is getting adjusted for the next train. Considering that I have about ten minutes for the next train I was taking it easy while climbing down. But when I was near the last few steps, I saw the train still on the platform and gate of the first coach was hardly 15ft away! I ran for it (which theoretically I shouldn’t have done) and the passengers standing near the gate were also trying to hold the gate so that it would take a little more time to close. With these combined effort I could enter the compartment but my shoulder bag just slipped away and fell in between the gap of the compartment and the edge of the platform! Finding some resistance while closing, the door opened automatically and I also got down so as to collect my bag from the track once the train has gone. But to my utter horror I found that my newly acquired bag was travelling with the train. A ticketless traveller hanging on to some projection on the boggy-assembly!
By that time a sizable crowed gathered around me and free advices like what I should have done and what I should do ( to complete the decent burial) were just pouring in! Then a middle aged man (whom I was later introduced to as Mr Barick, Dy. Supdt. Rabindra Sadan Station) approached me and on hearing the details sent down a railway staff on the track and inside the tunnel for some length to locate my bag but without any success
I then decided to meet the stationmaster to make a formal complaint since my wallet was containing some credit cards and debit cards and my formal complaint will be required for making FIR to police.
As I entered stationmaster’s office at the other end of the station, I found Mr Barick frantically talking to stationmaster of the next station (Jatin das Park) about the incident and was informed that the train just left the station and nothing has been deposited there. I then narrated the incident to the Stationmaster (of Rabindra Sadan Station, Mr Mondal) and he informed the control room immediately. By then I was more or less resigned with the reality and took a seat next to Mr Barick. Immediately one of the phones started ringing and it was picked up by Mr Barick. I found Mr Barick to be quite excited and uttering “Yes, he is by my side…..Kalighat Station……stationmaster……we are sending him right now”. Mr Barick then put down the phone and told me with a smiling face “The Motor man of the A.C Coach which left Rabindra Sadan station at 10:56 has deposited your bag to the stationmaster of Kalighat Station. Please go to Kalighat station and collect it. Best of luck”.
I thanked both Mr Barick and Mr Mondal for their efficient handling of the case and took a train to Kalighat Station still little anxious about the condition of my bag……probably it is utterly mutilated and everything inside damaged or lost!
When I met the stationmaster of Kalighat station (Mr Kamath) he was busy counting collection but on my introduction showed me my bag lying on a nearby table. I just grabbed my long lost companion and was surprised to find it in perfect condition without a scratch or a stain and everything inside in perfect condition….without any loss or damage!
In these days of utter callousness, negligence and dishonesty I really do not know how to thank enough the entire staff members of Kolkata Metro, particularly Mr Barick and Mr Mondal for their efficiency, work ethics and culture and that unknown motor man (of the A. C Coach, leaving Rabindra Sadan Station at 10:56 on 13th April 2013) as well as Mr Kamath and all his staff
s for their honesty and work
ethics! They really make us all proud in this world of disunity &
dishonesty! Their efficiency could be more appreciated if we understand that
the entire operation was executed within the running time of the train between
three stations which cannot be more than seven minutes! The whole incident was
just bordering “Miracle”!
I feel we are all having our share of good and bad incidences but unfortunately we normally do not remember those good incidences which manifest human values or give us a fresh lease of life. I was pondering about some of those happy incidences that have happened to me…..when as a small child I was hit by a swing and a complete stranger carried me running to the nearest hospital to save me, even though he got drenched in blood on the way ……just a couple of minutes before IIT interview when I was in tears due to a small bone stuck in my throat during lunch, my school friend “Gora” offered me a ripe banana to swallow and solved my problem…..a friendly pat on the shoulder from the doctor during IIT entrance medical examination to help the needle move away from underweight to right weight.....Ticket checker in Germany helping me to cross the railway lines and climb over the station wall to catch the last rail-bus in an unknown city….Receptionist in a hotel in London letting me sleep in the TV room when the hotel was full and taking me to his home in the morning for breakfast…..staff members in CMDA (now KMDA) congratulating us when we got our plot of land in a most ethical transaction…..my various happy interactions with police forces both in Kolkata and Germany….the list is unending.
These are my “…brown paper packages tied up with strings...”….“My favourite things” and “…when I’m feeling sad….. I just simply remember my favourite things and I don’t feel so sad…”
When I was thanking my late parents for their blessings for such a wonderful experience, I then realised that the day was my father’s birth day and probably it was a little gift from him!