March 1993. We were going by train to attend the three days Central Working Committee of E.III All India Union at Calcutta from 18th to 20th March 1993. Com. Moni was the General Secretary and myself President elected from Bhopal AIC after a stiff contest. This was the second working committee and first after parallel list was floated by the disruptors. Hence a large number of observers were attending the meeting.
Com.Moni Bose was a man who wants perfection in everything. He was fond of good food and also very particular that others also should have the same. During the period I stayed with him at Dada Ghosh Bhawan and also whenever I have gone to his house in Calcutta, I have been overwhelmed by his loving care and pressure on me to consume the best food in large quantity. Even in his old age, he used to go to the market to buy vegetables.
It was not different in the train journey to Calcutta. In addition to two of us there were Com. Hari Om Dutt Sharma, Circle Secretary Delhi and many other comrades from Delhi, U.P., Haryana etc. As per direction of Moni Bose, Com. Raghubir Singh, our office clerk, has brought a large number of chappathis in a dubba, sabji, fruits and what not. Com.Bagraj Khari, Treasurer, who boarded from his Ghaziabad also brought many eatables. It was really a feast. It was supplied to some other passengers also. The journey was a time for eating and also discussion about the holding of the CWC and other union matters. As usual, I took many cups of tea and coffee in the train.
The CEC meeting was fruitful and took many important decisions. I wanted some books to be purchased and during the lunch break on the second day I got down from the Yuba Kendra building where the CEC was holding and caught a riksha to go to the book stall. I was pondering on some issues, but after a few minutes, all of a sudden I felt that the riksha was moving very very slowly. Looking to the rikshawalla, I realised to my shock that it was not a cycle riksha. A very old weak man was pulling the riksha by his hands and slowly moving forward. It was a hand pulled riksha.
I asked him to stop and got down. I asked him what is the charge to the book stall. He said Rs.5 and I gave him the money. I engaged a taxi and went to the book stall.
Even now, one can see many hand pulled rikshas in the norther cities. In some cities like Calcutta, they were offered cycle / auto rikshas by the government, but many still prefer to their hand pulled rikshas.