Cartoon of the Week 15: Train Travel

Traveling long distance by train was one of the most enjoyable modes of transportation in India. Once you get over the initial hurdles of getting a reserved seat or squeeze yourself in through the crowded doors as the train slowly rolls in to the platform or the frantic attempts to manage the porter and the family, the journey becomes much easy and enjoyable. Overnight train rides are especially thrilling when you not only need to manage a berth to sleep, but also keep an eye on your luggage and belongings to protect them from the “highly suspicious” co-passengers around you. When I was a child, I remember the train journeys from Kolkata (Sealdah or Howrah depending on which train you take) to Siliguri. Before the Farrakka bridge (barrage) was completed, we had to get off the train at Farakka and then take a steam boat across the Ganges to the other side (Sagrikoli Ghaat) and then scramble on to the train after a long run. If you were unlucky enough of not having a proper reservation, then your plight can only be imagined by those who took that journey. However, once you are settled in your seats or berths, temptations start knocking on your senses as the aroma of hot food attracts your attention along with the loud marketing attempts by the food vendors on the station. The appetizing offerings of “Ilish Maachher Jhol”, “Bhaaja Mooger Daal”, “Gorom Bhaat with Ghee” and “Begun Bhaja” pulls in many hungry passengers to the bamboo and hay thatched eateries all around the train station. Continue reading

Goodbye 2008 – Welcome 2009

Year 2008 is finally over, and what a year it has been. I am sure this year will go down in history as one of the most significant year of this century. If we look back to this year, the two events that stand out the most are – the global economic meltdown and the historic presidential election.
The economic meltdown of the 2008 will go down in history possibly as the darkest economic times of the twenty-first century just as the great depression of 1929. The sub-prime mortgage crisis, the credit crisis, the crash of the Wall street giants, the market crash created a snow ball effect of financial disasters which still remains to be contained. This crisis also proved once again how tightly the global markets are connected these days when it spread from its epicenter in USA to all parts of the developed and developing world.
The second most significant event was the US presidential election. The election of Barack Obama, the first African American to grace the White House as the president of the United States is an event that will be recorded in history in golden letters. Barack Obama brings with him the hopes for a positive change not only in USA but also the whole world. The worldwide celebrations at the election win of Obama is a testament to how the world looks forward to this new leader.

India too has seen some good and bad days during the last year. The dastardly attack on Mumbai by the terrorists has caused the world community to refocus their attention to deal with global terrorism. Terrorism still continues to plague the world and keeps on challenging our defenses in any way they can.
On the positive side, the Indian technological and economic prowess showed off with the successful launch of Chandrayaan I and then with the successful implant of the lunar probes on the surface of the moon. This has been a significant achievement for a country that is relatively young to the space race.

Another 2008 global event that I will remember for a while is the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. The Olympic games demonstrated how human beings like Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt can become super humans. This Olympics was also especially favorable to the Indian athletes with its first individual gold and if I am not incorrect, the highest medal tally at the games.

I hope 2009 comes to us with the promise to fulfill our hopes and dreams. Let’s hope that from January 20th, the new President brings in the change he promised and helps herald in the peace and prosperity that we all have been looking forward to. Let’s hope that evil in all forms, from terrorists to the financial swindlers, all are defeated and good prevails for all in the world.

Wishing you all a very happy New Year.

Sudipta Bhawmik