Thoughts & Ideas

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Kursela Days 8 – Newspapers



I had been brought up to believe that one of the “good” habits of civilized, cultured, educated people was to read the newspapers everyday. The Calcutta edition of “The Statesman” used to be my daily fix from schooldays till I reached Kursela, in North Bihar, to do my rural assignment with State Bank of India. Not getting to read my daily newspaper produced withdrawal symptoms in me, similar to what junkies get when they do not get their shots. I used to be grumpy, fidgety, and at a complete loss as to the very meaning of life without reading my personal copy of The Statesman. During probation, as I moved to some far off places such as Bettiah, Madhepura etc, I managed to keep my daily tryst with The Statesman even though, at times, the delivery reached me one day late.

However, living in Kursela was a different ball-game altogether. There seemed to be no way that I could get supply of The Statesman on a daily basis or for that matter any other English language newspaper.  The Indian Nation and The Searchlight used to be leading English language newspapers published from Patna and had wide circulation throughout Bihar, but even these esteemed newspapers were rarely available in Kursela.

Then lady luck (as usual whenever I have been desperately stuck) smiled on me. One of my staff members in Kursela (Gautam Kumar Kanjilal) used to go every weekend to Katihar, where his family lived. Katihar was, incidentally, the only urban centre in the region and had a sizeable Bengali population and I had a hunch that the Calcutta edition of The Statesman would be available there. I requested Kanjilal to make enquiries as to its availability. Monday morning brought Kanjilal with a big grin and a copy of the previous day’s The Statesman, and my life was made. I am sure that Gautam Buddha would have felt the same kind of pleasure on reaching Nirvana, as I did on getting my beloved The Statesman in my hands. Thereafter, I worked out an arrangement with Kanjilal to get the entire previous week’s copies of the newspaper when he went to Katihar on weekends, which I used to merrily devour over the next week.

After spending about 6 months in Kursela, all the news and discussions in the newspaper started feeling meaningless and totally out of context to my life in Kursela and I stopped enjoying reading the newspaper. In less than a year, I stopped subscribing to the newspaper and I am thankful that now I have been totally cured of newspaper addiction. I read newspapers if I get one, but it is no more a daily fix.

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