Journeys 32 – Loss of suit case at Kolkata

August 2005. Full preparations for 29th September 2005 Strike called by Sponsoring Committee of Trade Unions against anti-people, anti-worker policies of central government. Continuous tours all over India, including Kerala, M.P., UP West, Punjab, Orissa and W.Bengal.

Strike Convention jointly organized by four circles of W.Bengal viz. Kolkata Telephones, T and D, Telecom Stores and W.Bengal on 18th August. Reached Kolkata early morning by train. Bath and break-fast at Salt Lake City IQ. Somewhat far away from city. Com.J.N.Mishra, All India President, BSNLEU with me. We had to reach Telephone Bhawan by noon to attend a meeting before Convention. Hired taxi from IQ. Proceeded to Telephone Bhawan with luggage since had to catch flight scheduled at 20.00 hours to Bangalore. Ticket booked. After reaching Bangalore, we – my wife, daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter – will proceed early next morning to Kabani resort to spend 2-3 days there.
Heavy traffic. Taxi reached Telephone Bhawan late. Comrades waiting impatiently. As soon as we stepped down from car, were carried over to meeting place by large number of comrades, with shouting of slogans. Were provided tea and snacks. Meeting started in CTO Conference Hall by 17.00 hours. Senior leaders Comrades Moni Bose, Ananta Bhattacharya, others present. Com. Mishra and I addressed and explained matters.

After meeting, I was directly to go to airport to catch the flight. When asked for my suit case, comrades told that I got down from taxi with nothing in my hands. I realized with shock that I had forgotten to take suitcase from car- dickey. Driver also did not remind me. Neither Mishraji. Usually our comrades will be arranging their own cars, they will take the luggage also and I will be getting the same only when I return. As usual, I had thought that our comrades have taken care of the suit case.
What to do? Since I will be on tour for five-six days, I have taken half a dozen pants, shirts etc. There were some gifts to my granddaughter. There were two bank cheques for about Rs. 90,000/- from a friend which I was to hand over to my daughter. Books and union papers were also there. Fortunately, the flight ticket was in my pocket. I had not noted the number of the taxi. In a city like Kolkata, it is impossible to find the taxi without registration number.
I had to start for airport immediately to catch the flight. Otherwise, I may miss it. But, Com. Moni Bose and others advised to file a complaint to the police. We went to a nearby police station and gave written complaint. They started asking so many questions for filing FIR. I was worried about my flight. I was almost certain that I may not get the suit case back. Had the driver wanted, he could have come to Telephone Bhawan where I had got down and handed over. Com.Moni Bose contacted some senior police officers and FIR was ready without further delay.

Com. Dilip Das, Asst. General Secretary, arranged a taxi to airport. Usually I go alone, but comrades insisted that in case I do not get the flight it is better that some body is there. Heavy traffic on the road. Fortunately strict instructions that the passenger should reach before 40 minutes of the departure of the flight by which time the issue of boarding pass will be closed, have not been issued at that time. I called airport from the taxi and told that I am on the way, that it was an emergency and they have to wait for me. The reply was, ‘Come immediately’. I reached the airport after the scheduled time of the flight. I rushed inside, asking Com.Dilip Das to wait for me, in case the flight already left. Looking in to departure board I was relieved. The flight was late; I got the boarding pass, informed Dilip Das and moved to boarding gate.

Reached Bangalore, then to my daughter’s residence. Told them what happened at Kolkata. I always used to have one or two sets of dresses at Bangalore and that problem was solved. But what about the checques? I was not sure whether it was crossed or not. If the taxi driver encashes them, the money will be lost forever.
Early next morning we started for Kabani. After reaching there, my daughter called her bank, told about the loss and requested to issue directions so that the checques are not encashed in any of its branches. The bank told that only the person who issued the checque has the authority for that. I contacted my friend who issued the checque and he immediately did the needful. The money was now safe. Only suitcase and other things were lost. After reaching Calicut from the Kabani , I directly went to the State Hantex shop and purchased half a dozen shirts, costing Rs. 150 per each. That problem also was over.

This was a lesson. But it did not help much. I was always forgetting things. The famous poet has put the situation correctly, ‘I have never forgotten to carry the bag of forgettfulness.’