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BENAPOLE

TO

WAHGA
PARAG JAFAR SIDDIOUE

Dedication:
This article is dedicated to my loving

MAA-MONI
(Mother)

Special thanks to my dear friend

Atif Mahmood

Dhaka, Kolkata (ex Calcutta), Amritsar, Lahore are the four famous cities of subcontinent. I am writing this article by garlanding these four cities in same garland. It was not any extra ordinary journey, but I crossed three borders and I bonded Bangladesh India Pakistan in an invisible thread. I m a Bangladeshi student studying in EME college Rawalpindi NUST on scholarship of Pakistani government. July to august was our summer vacations and I went to my sweet home Bangladesh by air. I enjoyed a lot over there my family, friends, relatives and food made by my mother, everything was excellent, I am missing them while writing this interesting journey of three historical nations of the world. Days were passing like seconds, at last the day come when I had to leave the Bangladesh and return to Pakistan .I planned with a friend of mine, Towhid (who is also student of NIIT, NUST) to travel to Pakistan via railway through India and later on this decision proves to be a great pleasure and experience for me and now I am sharing it with you. On 25th of august we got our transit visa through India to Pakistan .our journey started on 3rd of September 2006 and our destiny was Arambagh (DHAKA) from where we have to hire a bus for kolkata let me tell you that this route of bus service from Dhaka to kolkata opened on April 1999 and hundreds of people travel through this route daily. Our journey started at 10.00 pm. Bus was moving at steady speed, seats were good and behavior of staff was quite nice. Also company of my dear friend Towhid is always a pleasure to travel. Our first stop was Paturia ferry ghat at 12.30 am from where onwards we have to cross the largest river of Bangladesh “PADMA”. The w onder ofthi ri i ‘ I A’ s ver s H LSH which is the national fish of Bangladesh and its taste is best in Bangladesh. One more interesting thing, the path w e w ere folow i hadn’ any bri on padm a for crossi ofvehi es.O l m ethod ofm ovi l ng t dge ng cl d ng vehicles from one bank of river to other was used using ferry. Our bus was loaded on ferry along with other vehicles and moved to other bank of river Padma. It was midnight and Padma was looking marvelous in moon light. We sat over the roof of ferry, sang songs and enjoyed a lot. After crossing the river we took our bus again and journey started again but this time we went to sleep. We awoke when we reached at Benapole border in Jessore. It was last portion of Bangladesh and we were saying goodbye to dear Bangladesh. We entered in Haridaspur, India and first thing we faced was immigration and custom clearance. Our whole luggage was checked thoroughly and green signal was given to us. It took us almost 1 hour in clearance. Now we hired another bus of same company and this time destination was kolkata, capital of west Bengal. The bus was quite similar to previous one and road through which we traveled was ”j essore road” , grand trunk road also known as GT road, constructed by sher Shah ex suri from Peshawar to Dhaka. It took us 4 hours from Haridaspur to Kotkata and after 13 hours of tiresome journey we were in Kolkata at 11.30am. From here onwards we had to travel through train we check the information counter and he informed us that train will move at 7.00pm from station. We had only 7 hours to explore this historical city so we took a taxi and went to explore the city. At first we went to Eden garden, it is the largest cricket stadium in the world. It was really huge and its main galery w as very l l arge.Then w e w ent to “N etaj Park”.It was a beautiful park i and greenery was pleasure sight to watch. Then we went to Kolkata University. It is one of the famous universities of subcontinent. Its old and mind-blowing buildings show the great heritage of subcontinent

culture. Moreover, this university stands in first fifty universities of world ranking. We were enjoying very much because everybody was speaking my native language Bangla. One thing I noticed about kolkata was its bad traffic. Although roads were quite large but traffic was disgusting, so what, nothing can stop us to explore this marvelous city. Then we went to most advance market of kolkata called “new market”. We had our lunch in an Indian restaurant, taste was quite good.

Although language and people were same but one thing I noticed about kolkata is that culture was quite modern as compared to Bangladesh. Maximum girls were in jeans and t-shirts where as in Bangladesh girls normally wear saree and shalowar-kameez. The very interesting vehicle in kolkata w as “tanga”.I is basically a cycle-rickshaw and pulled by man. We took a tanga only for t experience, it was a horrible experience. It was just like roller coaster and I thanked God for survival. I also abused my friend who desired to ride that tanga. Then we went to book m arket of kol kata “free SchoolStreet”.W e bought som e Bangla novels. At last we went to Haowra station, the largest railway station of subcontinent. Oh my goodness! It was really huge. But there were thousands of people and it seems whole India had gathered in haowra. As w e don’ know our pl t atform ,w e w ere goi here and ng there like a school boy who has forgotten his way. At last, after an hours struggle we reached at desired platform and got the train “Am ri m ai” and took the seats. tsar l

India is a large country and we were going to cross it. It was a great feeling. Our train was moving at steady speed w i th”poo jhik poo jhi sound.As train went from one station to k” other I kept myself busy in exploring India. We were passing different stations, cities, towns. Some places were much known to us because of Pakistan studies and some were new to us. At last we reached Patna one of the famous cities of India; I came down from the train and found that station was very neat and clean. I was looking for cigarettes to smoke but there was no cigarette seller in the station. I was much amazed that no cigarettes were being sold in a railway station which is an unthinkable thing in Pakistan, Bangladesh. So with a broken heart get back to the train. Our train again started its journey, train was passing different stations, whenever train stopped at a new station, we visited that station and took an overview of the station. We observed the people, and they all were like us only difference was language. One thing was notable, at every new station; language of the people was new along with the food, so one can imagine how many languages are being spoken in India.

Our next station was Kashi, the most sacred cities for Hindus. It is situated at the bank offam ous hol ri “G AN G A”.H i y ver ndus w orshi thi place and gathered here in numbers every p s year. There w e al saw “BRAH M AN S” a particular cast of Hindus related to Religious activities. They so w ere dressed i w hi “dhoti and had “pony tais”.After 10 m i n te ” l nutes of stay w e agai started our n journey, it was getting dark and night was approaching. We took our dinner and went to sleep in our compartment. Many stations passed but we were awaken by the great hustle and bustle outside the compartment .i thought something wrong had happened but then we came to know that lucknow

station had arrived and train will stay here for half an hour for cleanliness and engine refueling. We got off the train took our breakfast and decided to explore the station. Station was quite large and every body was speaking Urdu and their accent was excellent, which was sounding very pleasant. In lucknow majority of people were Muslims. I wanted enjoy over there more but train blew the whistle and we get back to the train. Our journey started again. After journey of 40 hours from haowra, at last we reached Amritsar at 11.00am, Wednesday, 6 September. Officially this journey was of 36 hours but it took us 4 hours extra. Pakistan –India border opens on Monday and Thursday, we had to stay in Amritsar for a night. We hired a rickshaw and rickshaw-driver took us to a nearby hotel and we got a nice room to stay. We had our lunch in a Punjabi restaurant and the taste was same as Pakistani food. Then we asked our rickshawdriver if he could show us beautiful places of Amritsar and he agreed. When we were going through Amritsar city, I observed that it is not a very large city and not luxurious as kolkata, Dhaka. Maximum peopl w ere Si w i thei tradi onal“pagri traffic was not that much heavy, most people were e khs th r ti ”; riding bikes, bi-cycles and other light vehicles. One thing was notable, that females were also using bikes (scooty). Our driver stopped the rickshaw at a very crowdy place; I asked him what is it? He told me it is “gol tem pl G ol tem pl i a hol pl for Si den e”. den e s y ace khs.Iw as w atchi beauti archi ng ful tectures ofthe temple. A small gold-coloured temple was standing in water; the view of golden temple was really beautiful. Then we went to jalianwala bagh. In British period, General Dyer killed a lot of innocent people here. Indian congress bought this place and they are taking care of this place. We saw that well, where people were thrown after killing. All the events were written in the museum of jalianwala bagh, a mela (fair) was going on and some people from congress gathered there, but General Dyer got the news and he came to mela and closed the main gate of bagh and opened fire. It left sad impression on our minds and we returned to our hotel at 5.30pm. After taking rest we were feeling much better and decided to watch other places. As we were moving here and there we saw the banner of an Indian m ovi “l raho munna bhai me and Towhid decided to watch the movie. Movie was excellent along e age ”, with the theatre; picture and sound quality was also excellent. Then we returned to the hotel, took our dinner and fell asleep due to tiredness. On Thursday we wake up early in the morning and after having our breakfast we went to Amritsar station get the train for Attari. We reached Attari at 10.30am. We went to immigration counter and gave our passports to the person on duty, after seeing our passports the person felt something wrong and he went inside the office. We became afraid and prayed to God that everything should be ok. After a while the person at immigration counter came with another person, the new person had very small height and mysterious looks. He called us to his office and started asking questi about oursel lke”w ho w e are,w here w e from ,w hy we are going to Paki ons ves i stan etc”,Itol d tow hi i Bangl that”thi m an i a spy and don’ tel anythi cum bersom e”.The person was d n a s s t l ng sometimes speaking in English and sometimes in Hindi, once he requested us to speak Bangla with him, I told him that he will not be able to understand but he was requesting again and again. Then I started speaking Bangla with him and using a bunch of slangs. All of a sudden he tol m e”dada,deshe gi d ye padmar elish kheyechhen? (Have you eaten the hilsha fish of padma in your hom e?)”.Iw as thundered to listen Bangla in pure pronunciation. Then he told that he is from kolkata and a Bengali. We were

feeling shy and we were saying sorry. He said its okay. Then we talked about a lot of things, obviously in Bangla. Meanwhile our immigration and customs were cleared. O ur trai “Sam j n hota express” w as about to start for wahga. We got on the train after saying goodbye to that Bengali guy. Our train started at 2.00pm Indian time and now our destination was Wahga and then to Lahore. Train was very slow and after sometime it stopped, I saw a boundary in front of the train that means the end of Indian border and there was a si gnboard,w ri tten “dhanyabad””thank you” and I an BSF (border securi forces) left ndi ty the trai and trai started agai thi pl i no m an’ l n n n, s ace s s and,nei ther part of I a nor ofPaki ndi stan.After sometime train stopped again and there was another boundary,Paki stan border and w ri tten “khush am ded”, el e”.Paki ”w com stanirangers got on to the train. Within a few minutes we reached Wahga, after the clearance from immigration and customs we came back to the train and this time our destination was Lahore station. We reached Lahore at 7.00pm (Pakistani time), Thursday, 7september after 4 days of excitement ,thrilling and tiresome journey.

It was an excellent journey. Whenever I think about it I become excited. I feel proud that, whatever the political relations among Bangladesh, India and Pakistan are but I traveled from Benapole to Wahga in one road and I sewed them in one single thread. Bangladesh, India, Pakistan are three different countries, they have three different boundaries. These boundaries can only apart land but not people. All people are same nothing can make them apart and inshallah a time will come when we will become good friends and peace will dawn upon us.