The names says it all. It really is the abode of peace - at least in my personal experience. Went there last 7 years ago. 'It's not the same any more'. 'Has changed (and for the worse)', etc., comments fly. But there I was coming in from Assam (work) late on Monday night and packed and ready early next morning for Shantiniketan. I was tired. It was going to be HOT. But having said yes to the trip long back, couldn't back out. Atleast I would spend two days in company of friends I rarely get to meet nowadays. But as it turned out...fortune favours the bold! As our Sumo crammed with 8 of us + the driver + assorted bags, one wheelchair to boot...sped out of Kolkata ... the sun sort of didn't rise despite it being nearly 7:00 am. The skies darkened further and a cool breeze made us shiver (we were all of us in our most comfortable, sleeveless, worse for wear Kolkata summer wear). Ah! Kothai jeno brishti porchay.
A short stop at Shaktigarh for a quick breakfast of kochuri, aloor tarkari and ofcourse the famous langcha - took me longer to read the names of all the langcha shops - Langcha Mahal, Langcha Kutir, Langcha dham, langcha stop, langcha bhavan, langcha bhuvan, Langcha godam, Langcha ghar...and ofcourse each had one unique claim to fame - Mithun Chakraborty ate here, Mahanayak Uttam Kumar ate there, here was Abhijeet smiling and there was Subhash Chakraborty in person at Langcha Mahal entourage, guards et al (on our way back).
And then we entered Birbhum. I would have known it even without the mileposts. The scenery changes completely. Flat wide expanse of bare fields like blond brush, ...the dusty dusky green in the distance, beautiful mud huts, red earth and ofcourse, I don't quite know I am filled with glee and there I am sitting at the back of the cramped sumo humming...what else - gram chara oi ranga matir poth!
And then two days of bliss. Soaking in that special variety of shanti that one gets there. Still pools, a few hens, bleating goats there, boys and girls on cycles...the still timeless quality in the air, the sated contentment, winding ranga matir path, everything seems to be posing for a gigantic, real life tableaux and I can't get enough of it.
Despite the physical weariness, mentally, I am fully re-charged.