day Nilendu asked "Surekha, now it is your turn to suggest
where you want to go? Of course you don't have much option! You
have to choose either Shimla or Uti. Which one you want to select?
This will be our last LTC." Surekha was busy in the kitchen.
She did not hear properly as she had just put some oil in the hot
frying pan for some special dish. She retorted " What do you
mean by that! No other third place! Earlier, I told you several
times that we would like to visit Jaipur again before you retire
from your job! You agreed and now telling absurd!" Nilendu
said " Same old place! Think, will you like to go the same
p-lace? For what? You like to see the changes whatever has occurred
during the last 25 years! Or what?"
Surekha was irritated and answered "Why not? And should I ask
you, you don't have any interest to see the changes that have occurred?
You don't want to see your old Jaipur? We could visit our landlord
there, we could go to Durga Bari, Ajmeri gate and where and where
not! Who knows, this may be our last opportunity!" Nilendu
remained silent for a while and said ".. We have moved around
all important places in Rajasthan in several occasions but one place
is still remained left." After a pause he continued . "
We have not visited one famous fort, although in connection with
field visit I had been very near to it in the Barmer district."
said ". Then in that case you can include this place
also, besides Jaipur. That will be wonderful and what I guess,
this place is Sonar kella, the great Golden fort at Jaisalmer!
Is not it?" Nilendu replied ". Yes, it is Jaisalmer
- the famous desert place with the Golden fort. . We have
not visited this place so far! We have visited Jodhpur and
even Barmer but did not visit this place." . She did
not allow him to complete " In fact, you might have visited
the other places but I have visited none..". Nilendu
immediately rectified himself and said ". Oh, yes! During
those days you had not come in my life! I was talking of my
premarriage days.O.K. Is it alright now?'' Surekha was pacified
and was happy inside for correcting Nilendu's statement.
Everything was settled
and decision was taken to travel to Jaisalmer via Delhi by Rajdhani
Express from Howrah and then to Jaisalmer by Jodhpur Express from
Delhi. The train left Old Delhi Station in scheduled time. Nilendu
and Surekha occupied their sleeper seats and were happy for every
arrangement. A Japanese couple of young age was also traveling in
the same coupe of four. Nilendu, however, managed his seat in the
window sides for the day time. When the train left the Station it
was around 2-30 p.m. Surekha was anxious to know the arrival time
at Jaipur Railway Station. The train was to cross around 10-30 p.m.
In fact, her traveling to Jaisalmer, it appears, is an adjustment
for visiting Jaipur. She said, " Today night I will not sleep.
I will continue to sit here, as I feel comfortable." Nilendu
laughed and said ".. Why? Surekha why don't you speak out that
you don't want to take any chance to miss Jaipur Station? You will
definitely be able to glimpse and moreover we will come and stay
for a few days here. Then, why such anxiety"! She became angry
and replied " So what! Can I not have a glimpse of the same
old Railway Station after a gap of 25 years or so! !" Nilendu
fumbled and replied ".. Of course yes! But I was wondering
why should you not have an attraction for a significant tourist
place, not visited earlier! All the time you are showing interest
for Jaipur only! Please think of Jaisalmer too..". They were
exchanging mild hot talks between them. The Japanese couple was
busy with themselves. They were so deeply engrossed with themselves
that, as if, even the fall of the earth can separate them by an
Surekha said ". See what a love! They don't even look around!
It is we, that may feel shy but not they! Can you guess where are
they going?" Nilendu told ".. May be Jaipur or may even
be our destination.. We will know their destination by tomorrow
morning only! If Jaipur, then tonight itself they will get down.
otherwise will continue the journey with us.". Surekha sharply
reacted and said " . Why? They may even get down at Jodhpur!
As to the best of my knowledge, that place is also equally attractive
and significant from historical point of view! and the train perhaps
will reach there in the early morning tomorrow...!" Nilendu
got a jolt. He thought Surekha would not be interested in the journey
route and she may not know Jodhpur would be coming enrooted. Who
knows, if she would pursue for halt at Jodhpur too. His assumption
was correct. Surekha did not leave the matter there. She continued
". Your planning is very poor. . We too could have dropped
at Jodhpur at least for a day. The heaven would not have fallen
and I am sure, you would get hundred and one means to go to your
Jaisalmer from Jodhpur. We have not visited this place either and
that too when we are traveling the same route!"
Nilendu understood her point. He did not want to contest her in
this issue. He meekly said ". Actually nothing much is there
to visit at Jodhpur excepting Umaid Bhavan Palace. that too only
a portion of it, because most part is being utilized for Hotel and
residence for princely people.." Surekha replied, " .
That way no place is worth for visiting! What is there to see, after
all! But people still love to get rid of their monotonous routine
life.". Nilendu agreed to this and added ". Yes you are
correct, people love to move around. they perhaps like to see and
feel the history and the scenic beauties of the places.. The palaces,
the fort, the artifacts, sculptor and the all, perhaps take the
individuals to the historical time! It is something like to become
nostalgic at times with their own past days.". Surekha smiled
and told ". Again you want to remind me of my passion for Jaipur!
You think, I cannot understand your cleverness! ." Nilendu
posed to give up. The two were then deepened with the moments and
events of their past days. The train was running fast, it was not
making any halt at the smaller Stations. The sound of the wheel
was rolling down the time. The Sun was set and the evening crawled
with glittering stars in the sky. The Japanese couple was silent;
both were looking through the window and observing the hilly landscape,
the returning herds of cows and goats and the flocking flying birds
in the horizon!
Soon after the darkness of the night became more denser and the
train entered Jaipur Railway Station. The platform was full of crowd;
passengers were running with luggage and all around the bright light
appeared life full and enchanting. But Nilendu and Surekha were
spell bound! They were observing through the side windows and were
murmuring ' what a change!' Those days, it was a single storied
Railway Station, now it has been converted to a gorgeous double
storied one! The walls and the Platforms are shining, the old look
of stony walls are no more! In one corner of the building where
dining hall used to be located, it appears, it is no more there!
". Look, that is the corner where we used to dine in several
occasions and after which we used to slip to the bypass road leading
to "c" scheme. do you remember Surekha. that first floor
flat where we used to live initially and shifted later?" Srekha
whispered more and said ". Now you see, why I was waiting so
eagerly.. It is really very difficult to identify the same old Railway
Station of Jaipur!" Meanwhile the train began to leave the
platform slowly and an excited shout was being heard inside the
compartment. The voice was of the Japanee lady's. She was shouting
excitedly and calling the attendant for help. Nilendu got up from
the seat and ran near to the door, he saw her husband running with
the moving train and finally could get in. What a relief for every
body who were watching him! The lady was worried and it appeared
she was very unhappy. She was expressing her annoyance and the man
was in very awkward position and he was trying to explain the situation.
The other passengers were also amused; they were enjoying their
conversations. The train speeded up and the crowd slowly dispersed
to their respective seats. By that time the dinner was served, Nilendu
and Surekha after finishing it went to sleep. Others were still
awakened and slowly the compartment was becoming silent. The corridor
lights were put off, the train was moving fast in the soil of Rajasthan.
It was late in the morning when Nilendu and Surekha got up. Yes,
they have covered a long distance from Jaipur and the train halted
at Pokhran. It is quite a big Railway Station and it is a junction.
Beyond the Railway Station, in the outskirt of Pokhran,a desert
look prevails. Scattered bushes and sand covered rocks are seen
all around. This is the place where nuclear Test was conducted for
the first time in India. From here, Jaisalmer will be two and a
half hour journey. Many of the passengers have already got down
at Jodhpur when Nilendu and Surekha were in deep sleep. Meanwhile
a boy got in their compartment and tried to converse with the Japanese
couple. It seems they too were interested and were enquiring about
the accommodation and other information about Jaisalmer from him.
His name, he told is Raju. He was fluent in English as well as in
Hindi. He was actually a hotel agent. Nilendu too started talking
with him and settled for a hotel for their accommodation. From the
Hotel window beautiful golden color Fort was distinctly visible
at the crest of the Tricut Hills. They were moved with the sight,
as if, a dreamland appeared all before them! Next day they had gone
inside the fort and found the age old city still bubbling with energy
and aristocracy. The same day they visited the other nearby Tourist
spots, the Fossil Park was one of them. What a wonder! Fossilized
wooden trunk of more than 180 m. years were displayed and kept preserved.
The barren hills and hillocks with vast sand dunes are all evidences
of the geological past with a solitary look! The entire area was
under sea during the Jurassic period before 180 m. years or so!
The next day the same Japanese couple was seen at Sam, a part of
Thar desert. It was a wonderful experience! Nilendu and Surekha
had a camel ride for about two kilometer from the roadside to the
spot of Sam, a place about 40 kms from Jaisalmer. All around it
was the desert of sand. Thousands and thousands of Sand dunes were
all around! To cross those dunes by camel is a lifetime experience!
Surekha was panicky, all the time was afraid of falling from the
back of the camel and a complete solitary place made her helpless,
family sick and was in search of Nilendu in another camel. The Japanese
couple was seen to jump, giggle, and run along the hillcrests. They
were waving hands to them, Surekha also waved her hands and joined
in the excitement. She got back her life on reaching the terminal
point of the Riding! In the evening they started returning to Jaisalmer
by the waiting car. The Japanese couple has come from Shanti Niketan,
they are doing some postdoctoral research there. They came this
side for a holiday trip. They liked Jaisalmer so much that they
thought of staying back there for a few more days. Nilendu and Surekha,
however, left Jaisalmer the next day for Jaipur.
When they reached Jaipur, it was early morning. They thought of
putting up in a Hotel near to the Railway Station. To their utter
astonishment they found that innumerable hotels have come up in
the nearby area at Banipark locality. Their last long duration of
stay of Jaipur was at this locality only. During those days the
area was not congested, a lot multiple buildings have completely
changed the previous look. The Circular Park, near to which they
settled a hotel, is now beautifully decorated with fancied garden
chairs, fountains, flowers and lights. The collect orate office
is still there. The house where they used to reside is not very
far from this place. They thought of visiting their old house after
visiting Nahargarh and Jaigarh forts besides Ram Nivas Bagh, Ajmeri
Gate, and what and what not of their old intimate places of interest.
They were moving together and more and more were getting spell bound
in the drastic changes. All most all the Cinema halls in city have
been replaced by multistoried building for multinational Companies.
Even the 'Polo victory' Picture hall could not escape from the Changes.
It was in the verge of demolition! All appeared new, the old, it
appears has gone to the shadows of time! Among all these changes
they were really very happy to see same old Statue Circle and the
Motidungri. However, a Birla Temple has come up very near to the
Motidungri hill. Through the whole day they walked down the main
market and the other known places and in the evening they planned
to visit their old house and the Landlord. They bought some sweet
packets and in the after noon walked down the street, which used
to be their daily path for office and marketing. Alas! They were
not able to identify anything. The either side of the road is full
of huge multistoried buildings; only the same Siva Temple at the
junction of the road still continues to remain. After taking a turn
they were just to reach their old resident. This turn was to enter
the lane from the main road. Yes! The third one in the right row
was their residence! The same lawn with waist height outer wall,
the same gate and yes, adjacent to the gate the same small cemented
verandah with a small water tap- every thing appears to be the same!
The window of the kitchen covered with same wire net and inside
the lit room with dim light appeared before them the lost 25 years!
Only change however, a construction of another floor in the open
roof! They were hesitant to enter through the gate! Who knows! Who
are staying now!
Nilendu said " Let us go to the land lord from the other side.
We should avoid this side entry." By that time, there were
tears in Surekha's eyes; she whispered, " See, the court yard
remains to be the same! Our baby used to ply her tri cycle here!
You remember, Maima and Aparna used to come and all the time used
to hope for their turn!"
Nilendu laughed and said ". They too must be settled with their
family like our baby. let us go to meet Mr.Goel from the other side."
Both of them took a turn and went to the main entrance gate. The
streetlight was just on, from the gate an old couple was seen sitting
below the shed of the land lord's apartment. Are they not Mr &
Mrs Goel? Vision is not very distinct from here. There was some
strange feeling inside the chest. A painful feeling was crawling
through the throat! How fresh the memory remains but there was no
direct contact for the last 25 years or so with the landlord! During
their stay they developed a strong family bondage. How they will
react to see them after a long period? How is Sangita, their youngest
daughter? How are her two brothers? All must be well. Are all in
fine health and mind? Surekha caught hold of Nilendu's hand and
whispered ". Are they not Goels? What you say? Are you not
able to identify them? Nilendu, if they are Goels, they must be
very old now! Is not it?" Nilendu kept quite for long. The
sound of construction work in the opposite side was mingling with
that of the Siva Temple! The old buildings of the construction site
were getting demolished. He slowly turned back and pulled Surekha
and said " Let us go to the park, do you not hear the sound
of the temple bell? It is not time to visit some one." They
still could feel the presence of Adar, Swadesh, Bhaskar are coming
out of the same Complex of construction, as if, all ready to go
to adjacent Durgabari where Biplab, Gautam, Sujit and others are
waiting for the stage rehearsal for the drama to be staged in the
ensuing puja festival.
Contributing Story Teller
Bandopadhyay uses his free time in writing. He has developed a writing
style revealing the bondage of nature and the life. He wants to
share & communicate those events of his own with the readers
for their valuable feelings and interactions. The author was working
as a Director in Geological Survey of India in the last phase of
his service career. In his younger days worked in various field
of geology with background of foreign training in United Kingdom
under United Nations Development Programme Scheme in Marine Exploration.
He gathered vast experience both in land and Ocean. Active participation
as Chief Scientist in as many as 15 different geological cruises
in the Bay of Bengal is in his credit. He took part in search of
Fe-Mn nodules cruising 45 days at a stretch in sea in the Indian
Ocean in Skandy Surveyor, a Norwegian Research Vessel. Published
scientific papers in national and international journals. Besides
scientific milieu, came across many human-inhuman experiences. Vast
field of Rajasthan, the place of desert and his initial placement
in the job ended in the deep sea through majestic happenings covering
human feelings and scientific search. Email: