Rickshaw, Metro, Bus, Local, Cart Cycle, Six-Seater: The 6 Modes of Transport to Reach Deulti Village

By Rutuja Bhagwat - April 23, 2018

On a cart cycle towards a roadside hotel as the old man poses alongside

Before a trip to any place, I sit down for a week-long research. The priority is to look out for offbeat locations in and around the city. If I'm lucky enough I get some unusual places but that is not the case most of the times. I continue the research and then try out my own ways––which I'm going to share on the blog in short time––of looking out for these offbeat locations. This is how I have explored so many unknown lakes on the outskirts of Mumbai.

While I was doing that, I came across some really kickass locations outside Kolkata and they intrigued me over the touristy, popular ones. You know, I can say I'm no longer the pretty "city girl" since I love the countryside over the city. I've quenched my thirst for a city life (well, except I would love to explore NYC or Tokyo) and want a life with greens, browns, and blues––and if the heavens bless, then few more colours.

While researching, I came across some of the most beautiful places about 3 hours away from Kolkata. I enlisted them in a tabular format along with "how to reach" and "distance" columns to make the task of picking up locations easier.

I reached The City of Joy around 11:30 pm and the next morning, though we wanted to start early, we left the house at 12:30 pm instead. My cousin's puppy, Mufasa––who is a mix of a Labrador and an Indian breed––could not adjust with his master sleeping on the bed, which was unusual to his everyday mattress routine. The puppy, therefore, barked and whined throughout the night until 4:30 am when we were finally dead asleep. He was not used to sleeping without having my cousin, Ishan, by his side.

To have been slept at 4:30 last night, there were slim chances of waking up early. We somehow managed to arise and from the list, decided to go to the nearest location, which was the Deulti village. (There were few places closer than Deulti but I had reserved them as the "resting day locations", meaning, we would go to faraway places on alternate days and the remaining days, we would go to the nearer locations.) I had fantasized my itinerary, and though it was humanly impossible to follow this plan, I still was dreamy about it.

The hand of innocence: The baby that kept us entertained on our local train journey towards Deulti

Unfortunately, after my tickets were booked, my cousin's internal exam schedule was out. He had his exams from the 16th to 18th, exactly between the time frame I was staying in Kolkata. I knew I would have to travel solo. Nevertheless, we decided to visit Deulti, for its positioning and a nature resort named Nirala. The plan was simple: Reach Nirala Resort, have a (super) late lunch and come back.

The travelogue would turn twice interesting if I divide my entire journey from Ishan's house to Nirala Resort between six different modes of transport we took.

SHARED AUTORICKSHAW TO MAHANAYAK UTTAM KUMAR METRO STATION

On each day of my Kolkata trip, I have taken a metro to reach the first location and then Uber-ed for the rest. The nearest metro station to my cousin's house is the Mahanayak Uttam Kumar (Tollygunge). In order to reach, we first have to walk about 10 minutes to reach the rickshaw stand and then travel in a shared rickshaw to reach the station.
During the morning peak hours, we would wait in the line for a longer time than the afternoon hours when the queue used to be a lot shorter.
My cousin told me that Kolkata only has shared rickshaws running in the city and I was taken aback. There are cities like Pune where the drivers insist on charging you without the meter and then there is Kolkata, which only works on a shared basis. In a way, this was beneficial. We had to pay Rs. 6 per head to reach the destination and get a vehicle much sooner as four people got into one rickshaw at a time.

After crossing a lot of passersby and understanding the afternoon Bengali scenario, we reached the metro station.

The beautiful unending scene from my local train window

METRO TRAIN TO M.G. ROAD STATION

We stood in the queue for our tickets to the MG Road station, which was about 10 stations away. While I was in the passage, I was excited to see the photos of few Bengali legendary artists. I wanted to capture the art in my frame and while I was doing that, two policemen––who were walking towards the exit––stopped by and enlightened me about the 'No Photography inside the Metro Stations' rule. They were so kind that they softly asked me to delete the video and further added that a fine of Rs. 500 is levied if caught for photography. While I was listening to them, I almost ignored another local who was trying to tell me about this rule.
I was glad the cops understood my naivety and did not charge me half a grand for breaking the rule.

I was quiet. I was upset. Kolkata is the home to India's first metro and not being able to capture it in my frame meant such a huge loss to my viewers as well as to me as a vlogger. Nevertheless, I soundlessly kept my phone away and walked with my cousin towards the platform. On my way, I saw the signboards that read 'No Photography'.

I got a seat on the Ladies bench while my cousin stood away. I assumed that Kolkata has a reservation for women everywhere but I was corrected later when we were standing in the queue at Howrah ticket counter and there was no separate queue for women.

When on the train, I was inwardly lost. That's the point when I realized I was observing people and making mental notes of their behaviour, their clothing, their appearance, and their relationships to one another. This situation took me back to the time I used to travel in Shanghai's metro with my mom and dad, doing nothing but silently understanding people.

The ten stations passed by quickly as in no time, it was announced the next station being MG Road. We dropped our tokens into the system and exited the station.

BUS TO HOWRAH RAILWAY STATION

We were supposed to catch a taxi for the Howrah railway station but instead, since a bus was stopped for few seconds right in front of us, we got into it. The ticket from MG Road to Howrah was Rs. 6 I believe. Every journey gives you a different experience. We were seated on the bench reserved for women, which was in the bus driver's cabin. Though his cabin was partially open, I can surely say, it was the cabin we were in.

Captured on one of the benches inside Nirala Resort

I witnessed the most chaotic aspect of Kolkata that afternoon. Unlike other passengers, I had a humongous window all to myself. I could see the entire two-way road in front of me. The same road, which had tram tracks running in two directions. The same road that was bustling with cars and people. If asked what was Kolkata to me, the sight in front was the answer. The yellow taxis, the sweaty people, the narrow roads, the tram tracks, the fruit carts, the traffic, the chaos, the fish restaurants, the scorching sun, the old buildings, the saggy wires, and the humidity. This was Kolkata for me. Simple yet beautiful.

I observed people, firstly those who were battling the sun on the roads and my bus driver, who was fighting the traffic and the sweat on his face. I'm sure my cousin, who was seated next to me, lost his patience at that moment seeing the turmoil. I'm sure that that must be the time he decided never to travel with his cousin Rutuja again. He's from Pune, a city that is independent of public transport. He's used to kickstarting his bike and going to places. Whereas, on the other hand, I'm an ardent Mumbaikar. Even though I hate the disorderliness of public transport, I don't mind taking it to cut down expense and taste the city's authentic flavour.

Soon, my thoughts were disrupted as we could see the letters that read in huge, bold letters "Howrah".

LOCAL TRAIN TO DEULTI STATION

Though my cousin, which I assumed, might have lost his patience in the unruly bus ride, I seem to have silently regretted my decision of asking him to join me and of choosing Deulti as a location to visit right when I was at the Howrah station. I applaud the size of the station and the number of platforms have truly surprised me but there's one thing the authority needs to look after, which is: the indicators.

I am thankful to the three policemen and a strange lady to guide us with the necessary information.

We were relying solely on a timetable we found online. On the small screen, we were looking for any train that took us to Deulti station. However, the screen only showed interstate express trains and not the local ones. After spending about 15 minutes under the huge fan and almost breaking our necks (and our brains) by looking upwards at the indicator, we finally decided to ask the locals. We did and few of them replied in Bengali, which, not even after trying, we could comprehend. We then spotted policemen and asked them.

Captured at Deulti railway station

A strange lady was seated next to the police and she guided us, with her hands and face pointing to a platform nearest to her, saying the Panskura train would be there in five minutes. We were obliged and walked towards the platform. As soon as the indicators changed, a wave of people came swirling towards the platform. In no time, the local train was spotted.

I was hoping I get a chance to enter the train and get a seat because the time required to reach our destination was about an hour. We chose a promising spot on the platform and the train crossed us and finally, halted. That's when the Mumbaikar in me awakened and using all the tricks and strength I had gained in my eight years of local train experience, I pushed men to get on the train. I scurried like a mouse and got two seats for myself and my cousin. We confirmed from the fellow passengers again if the train halts at Deulti and when they said it does, I was dancing internally.

The train journey was rather pleasing. I could see my cousin relax and seeing his smile, I was relieved too. On the seat in front, an elderly man was seated. His semi-bald head and facial features reminded me of my late maternal grandfather and his five brothers. This man looked someone who would not tolerate any topsy-turviness and someone who enjoys his space and who is proud of his OCD. The weather was still hot and humid but the moving train brought along gentle breezes. The man had a grumpy expression and was frustrated with the man next to him who was busy buying a packet of peanut chikki.

Right when I was enjoying this man's expression and thinking of my grandfather, a family of six got on the train. The man next to me, who I thought was selfish earlier, turned out to be a kind man in actuality. He offered his seat to one of the older ladies from that family. Her grandson sat on the lady's laps and demanded chikki. Shortly, the passenger closest to the window got up and his seat was taken by another young girl from the same family. The little baby was shifted from his granny to the young girl.

The journey after this shift turned twice entertaining as everyone around seemed to have one mission: to keep the baby entertained. To my disbelief, even the grumpy man cracked a couple of jokes to keep the baby engaged. What a jolly ride! Just when I was building a view of Bengali people for being hostile towards one another, this journey changed my views. I understood that people everywhere are similar. They love babies and they would seldom pass a compelling comment to refrain the babies from crying.

On the footover bridge at Deulti railway station

The family got down two stations before Deulti. Finally, it was our time.

What I loved about these outskirts is the greenery. I had never seen such dense green outlining a railway track ever in my life. The outskirts of Kolkata are blessed with breathtaking views throughout. You will not encounter even one barren patch. I was in the train for about an hour and the scene outside my window did not disappoint me even once.

CART CYCLE TO NIRALA RESORT

The Deulti station appeared quiet and empty. People slackened in their walks, the trains moved at their own pace, the life seemed listless yet peaceful.

Without knowing the correct exit, we still managed to take a bridge and after asking for directions from the locals reached the road finally. We asked for Nirala Resort and went walking when we met a young local who was well versed with Hindi. We confirmed from him the route and he said there were vehicles to take us to the resort. My cousin asked the rate and on knowing, I thought this was the best idea since we were acquainting someone from the village. It is always wise to know someone from a strange location. We agreed and the young local directed us to few men who were standing with cart cycles.

As soon as I learnt we had to sit on a cycle cart, my happiness knew no bound. While my cousin was dubious, I was extremely delightful. We sat on the cart and the old man cycled us towards the resort. The day was breaking into dusk and the sun had pacified down, thus allowing cool winds to flow. This cycle ride was one of the best rides as it was my first time. The breeze and the greenery added to its exclusivity. I forgot about the troubles we had to face in order to reach here and just enjoyed this short ride.

In just five minutes, we entered the gates of Nirala Resort. Instead of paying the rider and letting him go immediately, I insisted my cousin to inquire about lunch availability. On enquiring, we learnt the resort served no vegetarian food and I was thoroughly disheartened. I had already imagined the simulated waterfall and the beautiful river view.

The receptionist recommended a roadside hotel called Abhishek and that's where we went later. We paid about Rs. 70 to the old man and though it seemed vehemently extra, I thought the man deserved it for all the physical efforts he had put at this age.

Another one from the Deulti railway station

SIX-SEATER AUTORICKSHAW BACK TO DEULTI STATION

This time too, before paying the rider off, we asked the security men if the lunch was served since it was 6:00 in the evening and usually lunch timings end around 5:00 pm. We even inquired about the return journey and only after we were satisfied with the answers, we paid off the old man and let him go.

After lunching on Paneer Kadhai, Dal Tadka, Jeera Rice, and Butter Rotis, we left the hotel at 6:30 pm. This is when my cousin informed me about the early sunsets in Kolkata. (I remember, a couple of days later, when I was sitting in Ravindra Sarovar garden, I had called my mother. It was dusk around me in Kolkata but in Mumbai, as my mom told, it was still late afternoon and the "sun was shining so bright that my mom did not feel like stepping out.")

We crossed the busy highway and stood for a six-seater. In about few minutes, a six-seater halted in front of us. The vehicle was full but could accommodate two more people. I sat with the village ladies who were surprised seeing me shoot a video and my cousin stood at the door with two other men.

___

The short six-seater ride ended in five minutes, and we were back at the Deulti station. We bought tickets and waited for our train. This time we did not require any pushing and entered easily. There were a handful of passengers inside. For about 15 minutes, my cousin couldn't control his sleep and took a nap by resting on my left shoulder while I was determined to not let his head fall off.

We reached Howrah and took a yellow taxi for MG Road station and then took a metro to Mahanayak station. We reached the shared auto stand, where my cousin's roommates were waiting. Though awkward at first, we managed to speak with each other. We waited for about 45 minutes in this queue to finally reach home to our puppy Mufasa. He seemed too happy to see his master and three other humans. What a long day, I reminisced!

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