Rourkela has a steel plant and I sometime think is it named on ‘Ruhr’ of Germany where are the coal and iron mines in abundant. Though it is not so named in fact the area of Jhrkhand is ‘Ruhr’ of India. Rourkela is in Orissa though Jharkhandis claim that on account of cultural similarities. The soil is also red like that of Ranchi region and in fact situated beneath hills, Rourkela is having a beautiful landscape though due to iron herths and furnaces of plant it has become hot and was humid in the summer when I planned to to visite it on a Sunday .
There was only a passenger train available that day in the morning which I could get although getting a ticket was difficult in long queue at Hatia station and more so if you have a bigger denomination rupee of 100 only. The booking clerk had a point- only few rupees tickets for passengers but luckily after researching my pockets, I could get some money to have just ticket. Lady TTEs were checking tickets for searching some innocent poor for this tribal route.
The rout is picturesque and one of the best and green. The sight of river Koel is unforgettable.On opposite bench was a lady nurse from Gandhinagar Hospital once I worked there but she did not recognize me.
I purchased khajur(date) for Rs.5 and it was too much abd despite too sweet it was a great ask to finish that.
The train passed many stations in hot summer and at one place I got down to take water from tubewell.
At Bano I could not get fruits which was once upon a time a centre for that- semms it was not a good season for papaya.
The train was delayed and halted somewhere. One passenger who had gone far searching water missed the train.
The lady nurse was reading a female magazine which I too turned pages and found many tips on health are provided there though mostly filled with advertisements. It is not that in the past I never had read those but seemed I was a novioce in that field.
The train used to stand anywhere and finally at Bondamunda which has many A,B, C
I reached late in the evening and went straightway to the MECON’s guest house but could meet only one person Dubeyji who listened to me and said that he would ask others when they came.
Then I went to the market of Rourkela to a Maithil person whom I had phoned for a meeting. Meeting was not organized but he welcomed me when he returned in that old building-Chhabda Building near Haryana Bhavan.
He had a lot of stories to share and most important was his finding a good person, a senior engineer at Patratu who could understand the skills of daughter of education and marriage was held with engineer’s son without a dowry – so ideal! Anmd also the person told me as to how a Marwadi seth helped him during that marriage. The Maithil used to help him for unloading his materials many years back when his brother had a transport company. That help was repaid by Marwadi during this marriage without even asking.
The Maithil’s family had gone to Ranchi and I slept there well and next day early morning I went to Rourkela station by walk to take Alleppey –Dhanbad for Hatia-Ranchi.
Since I could meet only one person I revisited Rourkela another day by morning Lokmanya Tilak Express which had a great rush though I could find a seat.
Again the same route but passengers were of other class, not the adivasis for whom local train was life line. It was a train for Mumbai bound students and employees going there or residing there for livelihood.
After an unremarkable journey I reached Rourkela and walked to the Ispat Bhavan and talked my voters who were much impressed though again that was not translated in votes under some polarizing effects of region though I had stressed on national integreity.
They managed a car for seeing me to station where I met some SAIL workers who had been on a regular weekly trip to ranchi and they use to manage trip by giving Rs.30 as a tip to TTE though I went initially to general compartment, they did press and I was to share with them a journey in Hatia bound super express without a proper reservation ticket on same token Rs.30-one of them took from me and went to some other compartment to give to TTE who did not come even to check us.
The train has hordes of students and young employees returning from IT hub Bangalore. A lot of money is being drained outside of Bihar and Jharkhand for study there and then most of such boys and girls get employment there too.
The train was late in between and I knew from those regular passengers the ordeals of lside lines and mid lines and trains after train and stations they were knowing so precisely in their regular journey. Lucklily I could get Patli Express for my onwards journey which was probably delayed for some minutes to give connection as was already professed by those regular commutators.9 To be continued)..
Dr. Dhanakar Thakur
Antarrashtriya Maithili Parishad