When the training schedules were getting declared, this was perhaps the destination I thought I would get for my training. When I got the nomination for my training, the first question I asked myself, why only me for this place? am I that unlucky? While other colleagues got training in cities like Bangalore, Goa etc. I thought I was a tad unlucky to be nominated at Patna in Bihar. I like to travel, explore places, so there is always a to visit list in the back of my mind. Patna, or for that matter being, the entire state of Bihar, never even touched my thoughts, let alone, contemplating a visit there.
But, since the training was mandatory, I had no option, but to pack my bags and move on. Comfort always plays a vital role in my itinerary. I prefer to travel at ease. Unfortunately, the direct flights between Mumbai and Patna were booked and I do not like the break journey. So, I bought a costly ticket of a premium express railway. All was fine on the train journey, though it was tiresome and boring.
My dislike for the destination was reinforced by a scuffle that broke down with the ticket checker and the passengers from Bihar. Now, the rule mandates that the ticket checker can check the identity card of all the passengers. The passengers somehow invented a new rule that only one identity card from the group would suffice. One passenger from that group went a step further and said that they should have slapped the ticket checker. The ticket checker was not far away and he overheard this and once again a scuffle broke out. Welcome to Bihar, was all I and some of my non-Bihari co-travelers could have uttered them.
The train reached good 2.30 hrs late and it was around 1 am in the night. The image of Bihar is that of an underdeveloped lawless state. Every colleague of mine had warned me to be extra careful while traveling to Bihar. So, when I reached Patna Station in the eerie hours, I was a bit anxious too.
To my surprise, Patna station was as crowded, colorful and lively as any Indian station. There were ample lights and the scene outside was alike. There were scores of taxis, auto rickshaws, tongas were vying for customers that alighted from that late night express. The hotel where I had received my booking was six kilometers away, so by mental calculations, I had arrived at a fair fare that I should shell. With some hard bargaining, I got a vehicle to reach the hotel.
The hotel, the stay, the training etc was good. The training institute went an extra mile to ensure our comfort, which was commendable. After study hours, we traveled extensively to many parts of Patna, to explore the Bihar, we interacted with local people a lot. What we came to know and realized first hand was that the image of Bihar or a Bihari is not correctly represented in other parts of the country. The person coming from Bihar is looked down upon as backward. What we realized was that the state and its people were as good as we find in other parts of our country. Yes, we did travel only a small part of Bihar, its capital, which could not represent the whole state. But, still, the people were courteous, amenable and atleast less aggressive or arrogant as we find in other parts of North India, especially, Delhi or Uttar Pradesh. This was a refreshing example. This was more so refreshing, because, when I set for Bihar, almost all my colleagues and friends, and even from that part of the country warned me to be extra careful while traveling to Bihar. In the late hours of the night, we would take a leisurely stroll outside our hotel, but, not a moment, we did feel unsafe or insure. Picture this with the experience in Uttar Pradesh, last year, the scene was less comfortable, to say the least. Yes, there is scant progress to be seen in Bihar. Almost non-existent industrial infrastructure, the cityscape too does not instill any kind of excitement.
What we, later on, understood during our interactions was that the lowest ebb of the society, who have no source of income, cultivable land etc, who live in abject poverty and hopelessness migrate to other parts of the country, especially, Maharashtra or Gujrat. They have but no option, but, to compromise and litter out of helplessness, then it becomes a habit, thereby spoiling the name of the entire province, which is quite unjust in the first place.
My trip to Bihar changed my perspective about the state to say the least. Signing out for now.