Weekend Portfolio: Soumyabrata Roy
The Cheap Ambulance
Krishnanagar city junction (KNJ) is one of the busiest railway stations under Eastern railways, situated in the Nadia district’s main town Krishnanagar (West Bengal, India). I travel from Tehatta (my hometown) to Krishnanagar on a bus and then catch a train from KNJ to Sealdah station. It is the cheapest and fastest mode of transport. The travel fare from Krishnanagar to Sealdah is only 25INR (Indian Rupee) which is equivalent to 0.36 US dollars. If one is tactful enough one might even save that expense by not buying a ticket and avoiding the ticket-checker.
We might rightly guess that even the most meticulous and law-abiding ticket checker after checking hundreds of travelers can overlook quite a large number of ‘miscreants’. Thousands of people of different ages, gender, religion and caste travel together huddled against one another sweating, eating, chatting together and dozing off peacefully on the shoulders of strangers in the compartments packed up with people. In a train compartment everyone has a different purpose for travelling. Some families go to visit their relatives. Many go to the city to earn their daily bread. But, in this particular project though I have a more specific agenda.
The Sick people from the villages and suburbs go to the capital (Kolkata) to access proper treatment and medicinal facilities unavailable in their own ‘obscure’ localities and the train is like an affordable and accessible ambulance (though it is without medical facilities it can at least provide a fast transport). All the famous hospitals in this region are located in Kolkata city. My work is about patient in this Local passenger train, for whom there is no compartment separating in this section of trains. Taking candid photographs in a congested train compartment full of people swearing and sweating in the heat is however a risky and complicated task. I therefore used my camera phone to minimize the risk of making my subjects aware and uncomfortably conscious. The photographs have been taken over the time period of July 2018 to June 2019. Language is not my forte and so instead of elaborating further I would sincerely hope that my photographs will now speak for themselves.