ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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​​​​​​​A Nostalgic Tale of the Sarai: McCluskieganj

McCluskieganj is an important part of the grand narrative of the imagination of the pashchim, a place of fantasy in the minds of Bengali readers.

The Bengalis once had an intriguing conception of the “pashchim,” the “west.” This west is a place of travel, romance, and adventure, and not the “West” of the globe. Most of Jharkhand and parts of Bihar, together, were known as pashchim. Popular places included Giridih, Dhanbad, Hazaribag, Madhupur, Ghatshila, Medininagar (formerly Daltonganj), Palamu, and McCluskieganj among other towns and villages. Districts like Bhagalpur and Purnia, which are in north Bihar, also served as a haven for many Bengalis. Dhorai Charit Manas, written by Satinath Bhaduri in two parts in 1949 and 1951, is a great Bengali novel with a Bengali–Hindi–Bhojpuri linguistic, geographical, and cultural space in the narrative, an interactive contact zone of Bengal and Bihar. Satyajit Ray’s film Aranyer Din Ratri (1970) quotes passages from Sanjib Chandra Chattopadhyay’s travelogue by the same name, with descriptions of the landscape and the locals of Palamu. Another classic film set in this context is Tarun Majumdar’s Dadar Kirti (1980), which is based on a story by Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay.

Bengali aristocrats, intelligentsia, and the upper middle class used to travel to the pashchim for a “change.” They travelled to Jharkhand to experience “hawa badal,” also known as “changer.” Bengalis have travelled to these villages and towns since the colonial era as teachers, businesspersons, lawyers, doctors, and employees of the railways and postal services. Proximity to Bengal and respite from the busy city life in the form of hills, jungles, and rivers made these regions a beloved escape. Many authors spent a sizeable portion of their lives here, informing their work, which, till today, evoke strong memories among Bengali readers. Reading such literature about hills, rivers, jungles, and travel, when one is young and from the plains, evinces nostalgia and a desire for the region.

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Updated On : 24th Aug, 2023
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