The Chaos outside Patna Junction


There are no two views on the chaos that prevails outside the railways station of any big Indian city. In fact chaos and station area has became synonym of each other over the years as far as the Indian context is concerned. But Patna junction area still has some distinctive features which put it apart from most of the other 'typical' station areas across India. No sooner did you step out of the station than you would witness a whole new different world of variety of aberrations that could easily disturb you for a moment. Luckily people tries to adapt themselves to the new situation quickly, or rather tries to get out of it as soon as possible. But wait, where is the way to go out of the station building? Everywhere people is sitting comfortable on the floor, as if the place has been designated by the railways authorities as waiting hall. No wonder, while the railways officials sip coffee in their air-conditioned rooms, people jostles their way out of the building. Curse yourself, if you travelling with huge luggage, because ultimately you have to carry it on your shoulder or head whatever you like. Even if your citizenship compels you to fight for your right and you happened to ask the sitting people to shift a bit to let you go, double curse yourself. Not only you will get a disgusted looks as if "Who the hell are you? When railways is happy, who are you to trouble us? Get lost !!", but their are also chances that you will land yourself in a brawl. Anyway, you heave a sigh of relief after coming out of the building.

On looking now, you get a fair idea of the surrounding area. Dozens of vehicles parked in front of the building, a big temple beyond them, a railways engine beside temple, innumerable number of people, hundreds of rick-saws and autos moving haphazardly and big hoardings - all confined within a small area. You are now formally welcomed to the Capital of the State. Such cumulative sights are rare, if not impossible to find. You could see how auto-drivers and rick-saw pullers are coercing their potential customers emerging from the side gates. The sight disturbs you and you decide that its better to take auto or rick-saw from the roundabout ahead of the railways engine. You move ahead with your luggage and soon found that the way is pretty much blocked by the vehicles parked ahead. Whatever remaining is congested with vehicles going outside and coming in. A sudden thought strikes you from your experience that at such congested places, underpasses must be existing. To your horror, you come to know that their are no underpasses anywhere near, and in fact nowhere in the city, whose population is above 1.5 million!!! You wonder whether people here are left to themselves to gradually evolve their skill of road crossing. So, you try to learn some skill by seeing your fellow passengers passing through this maze. If you are a quick learner then you are able to get ahead the parked vehicles in short time. You could now see a grand temple in front of you. You also realize that temple is full of devotees. Hardly have you moved a couple of steps ahead, when the straight view stuns you. A large number of people are trying to get inside the temple and there is complete chaos. The roads on either side is dotted with emaciated beggars, and their begging coupled with the sounds coming from the temple and the traffic bewilders you. The railways engine has become a place of littering and time passing for the beggars. Instead of arising a sense of pride, it only arises a sense of disgust at such mis-management. The only thing you could think at this moment is the logic behind the presence of the temple in such a close vicinity of the junction. Luckily, you bargained with a nearby rick-saw puller and now you are on rick-saw, happy at being sitted at such congested place. You get a better view of the area now. You can now see clearly as how the various type of vehicles are competing with each other on the encroached road. You could not find anything which suggests that their is something called management in that area. Hawkers have encroached the road up to middle and traffic police is standing helplessly in a corner. Suddenly, your attention goes on the roundabout. It has idol of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru at its centre. You looked at the idol for the moment and concluded that Panditji seems quite hopeful of an emerging and peaceful India in this chaotic place. Your rick-saw tries hard to find the way but is stuck by the criss-crossing of other vehicles and zig-zagging the people. You are simply dumbstruck to see that this roundabout does not have a a single underpass or any over-foot bridge to let thousands of people going for the junction or the temple to pass through. You wonder is this sign of a capital? You could also see a large number of autos standing on the other side of the road in a cramped space and as a result encroaching the road till middle. You are quite depressed on seeing these haphazard activities because these are not a part of your life, but the people here seems to have very well adapted to these circumstances. Otherwise how could it has been possible to let the things turn from bad to worse. Nevertheless, your rick-saw has came out of the jammed traffic. You are relieved now, but suddenly a wonderful view catches your attention.

On inquiry, you got to know that it is a recently built Buddha Stupa and is known as Buddha Smriti Park. The administration has spend a considerable amount of money on the development of this park, you are told. You are also indeed impressed by its grand structure and the overall view. Your rick-saw passes by the park. But your thought remains stuck there on the logic of building of such grand stupa in front of the bustling junction, which otherwise could have been developed for parking zones, auto stands, wider road and pedestrian facilities.

[September 2013]