The flavour of Kolkata

The flavour of Kolkata
The bridge, the river and kids' play. Brilliantly captured by Sujay Kumar Das.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Twitter-savvy Railway official

It was surprising to find out that the Divisional Railway Manager of Sealdah division actively operates a Twitter handle. As it was, the other day on my way to office, I was pleasantly surprised to find out a PA system in the Sealdah-bound local train compartment. A recorded voice did station announcement like it is in metro rail. I tweeted my finding. Later on I found out that it had been retweeted and favourited by the said Twitter handle (named 'drmsdah'). It also replied that the plan was to extend the PA system to all rakes in the division.

It is not usual that we, the general public, get to interact with a senior official of a govt. institution, especially which renders a service like transport. So I tweeted about the handle, which was favourited by it too. Then yesterday while I noticed a no. of snack stalls on Bidhannagar station, which I hadn’t noticed before and tweeted about it, the handle responded stating such stalls often occupy precious public space that results in a compromise of security of passengers. Such spaces need to be reclaimed.

Hence as it appears, the Railway official, who is the like the CEO of the division as the position means,  is not on Tweeter just for giving updates of new services , development and train schedules (which it does) and retweeting praises off and on, it is also interested in engaging in dialogue with commuters, which is indeed praise-worthy. For example the above-mentioned conversation which extended beyond what is stated, informed me that there is (at least) an intent to have quality assured vending at all stations (like one sees at large and important stations like Dum Dum and Barrackpore) provided Railway gets "the space required freed".

Sunday, January 04, 2015

A visit to the museum

Relived my childhood through a visit to Indian Museum with my daughter on last Christmas eve. Visited the place only once with my father ages back. Have wanted to go back many a time all this while. The museum turned 200 years last year.
It has extensive collection of exhibits of anthropology, archaeology, geology, botany, zoology and art spread in 25 galleries on three floors. The ticket has a do-it- yourself guide of all the galleries and facilities of the museum at the back which I found very useful. It was a tad disappointing that many galleries were closed for modernization. But it did feel good to see the improved aesthetics and presentation of the modernized galleries- for example terracotta, zoology and Egypt. The ticket costs just Rs 10 and you can do photography of the exhibits on collecting a permit for Rs 50 (and it’ll be worth it) from the counter.
Not much is to be said about the collection. It’s amongst the best in India. A child of any age will be mesmerized by the exhaustiveness of the exhibits in various sections. The visit will be especially enriching if he/ she has been studying Indian history and life science for a few years. My little one was obviously excited to see the dinosaur skeletons and the mummy in the Egypt gallery (which is one of the museum’s major attractions) in particular.
I was amused by two exhibits. One was a 19th century chessboard from Murshidabad in the Decorative Art section on the second floor. It’s a standard size marble board with chessmen made in ivory. The unique feature was that all the chessmen were actual- so there were actual boats, elephants, horses and soldiers. The other one was a life size Durga idol completely made in jute in the ‘Plants in the service of man’ section on the same floor.

The chessboard
The collection is so vast, an entire day (It’s open 10 am to 4.30 pm/ 5 pm) may feel short if almost all the galleries are open. We spent about three hours and had to rush through many sections. There’s a sprawling, well-manicured lawn inside where you can rest your aching feet after/ in the middle of the tour in the mellow sun in this season. Food isn’t allowed inside. There’s an in-house cafeteria, but though the food is decent and reasonably priced, it lacks variety. In the afternoon we found nothing other than kachuri (puri)-ghooghni  (which we had) and rice meals available and the items were getting sold out fast.

The pristine white Raj era building and the lawn