Sunday, 11 August 2013

The "Mute" Railway Station

My hospital is situated right beside the Jadavpur Railway Station in South Kolkata. As an internee, I usually have to spend long duty hours in the Doctors' Quarters adjoining the station.  Incidentally, I happen to find myself never quite disturbed by what should be the annoying announcements over the Public Address Systems that "grace" most of the railway stations across India!  Generally speaking, I have never managed to fathom what info the announcer is trying to inject upon the audience on platforms, in a single attempt listening with rapt attention,but commuters who stood beside me, newspaper in hand & apparently engrossed in the newsprint, have non-chalantly translated into Bengali what the announcements contained, which appeared nothing short of the alien language spoken by Jaadu in Koi Mil Gaya!! 

Coming back to my situation, I was pleasantly surprised by this "Mute" station, which, despite being one of the busiest stations in the southern fringes of the city, didn't quite throw up a lot of sound, except the occasional blaring of the horn by some trains. Intrigued by the 'polite' nature of the station, I decided to find out what was the scenario - since I hadn't heard of a blanket ban on loudspeaker usage in the locality, a fact supported by the weekly celebration of the "ShoniPuja" by the local rickshaw pullers who revel  in the rowdiness of Tolly numbers! 

in the absence of announcements,this is how
 they hope for a glimpse of their arriving train

As I approached the 
platform, i was rather confused about which route to take for a train to Sealdah. The shoddily maintained platforms had directions& train instructions mentioned few and far between, which, for a newcomer like me, was quite a mystery to solve. Here was when I hit upon the reality: The Lack of Public  announcements meant, I had no inkling of what to assume , as my desired train was already 15 minutes behind schedule. I insisted on asking the advice of my Co-passenger, a fruit vendor, who was impatiently waiting beside me, " Bondhu, train kokhon ashbe?" (Friend, when will the train arrive? )
Vendor: "Are ki bolbo dada, kisu i bozha zaye na.....era kuno kisu Mike e boleo na....amra roz late-e gari pai....evabe i cholse" !
(Brother, what to say? They don't announce anything on the Loudspeakers, & we get late trains everyday. This happens all the time).

a packed platform in peak hours
 I now realised the gravity of the situation. This has been the regular ordeal of passengers in Jadavpur station for the past few years. Lack of  announcements meant they were in the absolute darkness about the whereabouts of their train. Looking around, I found out many of the passengers looked like they earn their living from their daily wages. To them, every minute is precious, but they are left with no option other than resigning to fate about how their schedules would go. Many of them come from South 24Parganas, work in the city and then return by the same evening.  My quarter hour wait on a single day had made me impatient by the lack of those"Hebrew" announcements over the Microphones , which I could at least have hoped to interpret by the help of others. Looking up, i thought I would at least find relics of some ancient loudspeakers, but the platform ceilings lacked any!!! I understood, what was a BOON for me during my rest hours in my room, was actually a major BANE for thousands of commoners, who long to hear the reverberating echoes of the station microphones to alleviate their misery! !

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda


  1. Good realization mate....Being a part of JU helps! Our regular classes used to take a toll for some split seconds in course of the day!


    1. That's the tragedy. What is more , they don't even bother to upgrade the existing system!