This guest article is penned by Satyajit Bagchi. Read about him at the end of the article. If you wish your article to be published in this blog, please contact at mahanagar.net[@]gmail[.]com with subject as “I Want To Write”.
A few days back I got the chance to visit Gujarat for an interview at Anand (renowned for AMUL). It was my first trip alone and naturally I was very excited. I had taken a flight to Ahmedabad. On reaching there I was greeted by a scorching afternoon.”Was it still January?” – I wondered.
As I stepped out of the airport I was, to put it mildly, at a complete loss. Signboards, directions were all written in some unknown form of language! No Hindi, no English, thank you. I don’t know whether it was due to my pre-conceived notion about the Gujaratis, the people there seemed to be in a constant hurry. None stopped by to answer a harried Bong’s questions. Just then as a messiah an autodriver stopped by, asked,“kaha chalna hai saab?” and Hindi never sounded sweeter!
I was to go to the central bus-stand from where I could take a bus to Anand. The autoride was fun. The roads were wide and smooth. Mysterious stone-gates stood ubiquitously at every intersection. You get to see cows on the streets of Kolkata, here you can see camels – fresh out of the pages of Arabian Nights, towing carts. The marketplace resembled just like a Gariahat or a Behala Bazaar, albeit with signboards which an uninitiated Bengali would find hard to comprehend.
I reached the bus-stand, paid the fare and went to a nearby restaurant. There I tried a Gujarati thali, topped by a khakra – a papad like thing. For dessert I had a delicious srikhand. I went to the bus-stand and mimed my destination to a portly ‘I-won’t-speak-anything-other-than-Gujarati’ bus conductor. Half an hour later I was on my way to Anand. The trip was, in a word,’ green’. Just a casual glance and you would see a developed rural infrastructure. Canals accentuated the fields and there was a certain sense of order in the entire place.
My stay at the beautiful campus was a revelation of sorts. There I got to interact with people from all over India. So there was I chatting with a vet from Palampur, a B.Com grad from Delhi or an IITian from Chennai. At one point I couldn’t help but think about the differences in our ways, cultures, languages, aspirations but didn’t realize the moment when I seamlessly gelled with them. Somewhere that endearing similarity bound us together.
I was the only person from Kolkata and the people there were pretty inquisitive about the city. “are the students there very political minded?”, “Tell about Singur”, “what are the aspiration levels there?”, “Wasn’t Jyoti Basu the best WB CM?”….There I was, in the land of Gandhi the sole representative of the land of Tagore!
On closer introspection I found out that my initial discomfort arose out of the unfamiliarity. The people there looked just like their eastern cousins, the food habits weren’t that different and even the Gujju letters almost resembled like Hindi! I picked up a couple of words like “kemcho”, “majamma”. I came back home with a handful of those khakras and a pleasing thought – I was not a lost Bangali in Gujarat…I was an Indian in my homeland.
Satyajit is an Economics graduate from Calcutta University. Currently he is an MBA aspirant, hoping to serve a global company as an effective team player. He has 3 wishes in life, one of which is to drive a flaming Ferrari down the busy streets of Kolkata at 150 kmph.