When I was in my 4th semester of Engineering, my father got posted at Chandrapur, well he worked for the Assam State Electricity Board(ASEB). Chandrapur is a fascinating place on the outskirt of the Guwahati city and earlier it was quite well known for the Thermal Power Plant out there. But due to some economic reasons the power generation was on hold that time and even after so many years, the power plant is still not functional at present. But during that time frequent talks was on between government and several corporate, so that the the Chandrapur Thermal Power Plant would've been live once again. The ASEB colony was situated at quite an exotic location. It was almost like a hill station, in fact some people used to consider it as a mini Shillong. Initially my mom didn't know much about the place and only knew that my Dad was being transferred to somewhere deep inside a forest, some 30 KM from Guwahati city. The fact that they would have had to live, kind of isolated in a remote land, really worried my Mom earlier.
My college hostel was also at the outskirt of Guwahati, but at the other extreme end. It used to take me almost 3 to 4 hours to reach Chandrapur from my hostel and the journey usually used to be very exciting. I've some really interesting Chandrapur memories. I usually used to travel by bus and I had to change 3 buses in order to reach the ASEB colony. Our college bus used to drop me at the heart of the city and from there I used to take a bus till Narangi. From Narangi to Chandrapur there used to have very few buses after every alternate hour. Wow! those bus voyages were so much fun and still refreshingly crystal clear, stored in some corner of my brain. Almost on every occasion the bus used to be extraordinarily overcrowded and the driver normally used to take his own sweet time at every possible stops. Within a few minutes the bus used to drive through the middle of the hills and I could see the beautiful river flowed freely below. I also had one more alternative though, the Indian Railways. There’s a train named Kalangpar, which used to go daily from Guwahati to Nagaon in the evening and it used to go via Chandrapur. It used to take about half an hour from Guwahati station to Chandrapur, but Indian Railways is very fond of giving surprises and on few occasions it even surprised us to such an extent that the half an hour journey, turned out to be 3 to 4 hours. There used to have a bus service in the evening from Chandrapur Railway station to the ASEB colony. Most of the people found the second alternative to be pretty much comfortable, but the bus journey was much more fascinating for me and only on few occasions I traveled by Kalangpar.
The ASEB colony in Chandrapur was built at a picturesque location, covered by hills all around. There’s a beautiful river named Kalang which flow below the hills. In fact, the train Kalangpar was named after the river Kalang. "Kalang par", means the other side of Kalang, well Kalang is basically a part of the mighty Brahmaputra. The place is so fascinating that it’s one of the most popular local picnic destination. There used to have many picnic spots out there and during the New Year season the place was horribly overcrowded.
One summer day, I thought to visit my parents and as it was burning hot that day, so I decided to travel by Kalangpar. I waited at the Railway platform and the train was little late. All of a sudden a Pujari came in front of me and before I could have said/done anything, he applied a big red color Tilak on my forehead. Well, I was kind of trapped and had to pay him few bucks in the name of God. After sometime the train arrived and I occupied an empty seat. Opposite to me seated a middle aged man and he immediately passed me a big smile as soon as I sat close to him. I noticed one family had a little argument with another family. The argument was regarding some sitting arrangement issue, as far as I could remember and one of the women who's part of the argument, wore a Burkha. The person who sat opposite to me had an informal introduction with me and whispered "These ass holes, wherever they go they would create problem".
Well, what could I have said? I simply replied "Yes, you are absolutely correct" We chatted for a while and then I came to know that he went for his Darshan at Kamakhya. Well, Kamakhya is a very well known pilgrimage destination at Guwahati. The man gave me Maa Kamakhya Prasadam to eat and then we chatted for another few minutes. I realized that he was the kind of person who doesn't have a very good impression towards a particular community. But he was a very friendly person and I had a wonderful time with him. Everything was perfect, but then all of a sudden he asked my name. I was very confused that time and didn’t want to disappoint him, also I wasn't comfortable enough to have said a different name either. I replied to him "Well, I’m Jahid, Jahid Akhtar"
I didn’t have the courage to look into his eyes and I simply looked outside the window. The person replied "But you have a Tilak on your forehead?" That time I realized that I just forgot to erase the colorful thing from my forehead. I answered him in brief about my Tilak story, but didn’t look at his face. He was also silent for the next couple of minutes and then the train slowed down and I could see "Chandrapur" written on one of the signboards outside. I didn’t even had the guts to say him goodbye and simply got down. I walked through the platform and the train slowly started to move. As the train passed by, I wanted to have a final glimpse of that man and raised my face towards him. He was also starring at me and then he waved his hand towards me. Instantly, I also started to wave my hand and continued till his face lost to view.