No, there is no pun intended in the title. My regular destination comes within the first three options of every website’s “Short Trip destinations from Kolkata” list.
Every second person who gets to know that I travel all over from North 24 Parganas to South 24 Parganas to my college every day gasps in wonder, sometimes with a faint recollection of a short trip they had made there.
“There” is a little ahead of Diamond Harbour, the place where I had my first outing as a 3-year old kid.
The day I had come to visit the campus as a part of the counselling process of my joint entrance examination, it took us 5 hours to reach.
Being one of the handful colleges offering a B. Tech in Biotechnology, coupled with its breath-taking campus my parents were pretty impressed in spite of the location.
It was decided that I would avail the hostel on campus to lodge.
The first year was a tremendous experience. A new environment, new roommates, a whole new system. But after a while it got all monotonous as I wasn’t really good at socializing.
Bored with the notion, I decided to become a day scholar. I discovered short cuts to the route and I am traversing 90 kilometres in 3 hours twice every day!
It surprised everyone who knew me that I, a habitual late riser was waking with the break of dawn! The change of habit did not come without surprises.
The early morning roads devoid of the traffic or fumes, the brisk daylight that doesn’t hurt the eyes, the stirring of the day’s activities at the bus depot, the sporadic crowd of school going children in the metro or even the strong cup of tea for that extra push, everything is refreshing.
The air on my way to the esplanade bus stand is filled with the smell of puris being fried and dal being boiled by the roadside eateries. On my way I cross this particular eatery with a humongous handi of rice boiling noisily. The place is already bustling with people going all over the state, or starting their day’s business while for some tired soul returning home after a nightshift!
On exam days, revising while the sun rises adds a subtle charm to the most draining activity of a student’s life.
The public bus we avail stopped being variable after few days of figuring out the perfect timing. With that, even the co-passengers started being a constant. In those few hours of interaction, we identify each other by face only and exchange niceties like enquiring their well-being.
They sit down in our seats after we get off at our college. The familiarity brings about a sense of assurance among complete strangers for 90 minutes every day. So much that if we don’t go one day, the genuine concern about our well-being is overwhelming.
The way back is excruciatingly tiring for the traffic snarls on the city roads in the evening rush hours. We sleep most of it and that sleep is divine. Amidst the sweat, heat and discomfort, the eyelids droop without fail once the breeze hits the face.
On some days I wake up with the jolt near Fort William to witness the beautifully decorated riverside of the Hooghly. Along the entire stretch till Babughat, particularly on cloudy evenings one can see the Howrah Bridge glittering in its glory which leaves me wondering why one would even want a London or a New York to replace this city.
I reach home by late evening and strangely I could not be less tired. A refreshing bath is all it takes to gear up for another adventure the next day!