OLD REMINISCENCES —(3)
Living in jungle too can be enjoyable. I worked as post master at a post office serving a gigantic private company. The company established a huge paper pulp factory in the forest area. A modern residential colony containing 300 to 400 houses of various categories was built two kilometers away from the factory. The factory and the colony were at two ends of a big forest village . The colony was like a little city in the midst of a jungle. The raw material required for the factory was the eucalyptus wood from plantations in villages in the district and also in many neighboring districts. Daily sixty or seventy lorry loads of wood came to the factory to process! The bark on the thousands of logs would be removed by hundreds of contract labor. Loads of the wood would be fed between giant toothed iron wheels of a machine and would come out as heaps of tiny one inch pieces .Then the stuff is boiled in room- size giant stainless steel boilers for perhaps one or two days and would become a paste. It is bleached with chemicals. Paper and pulp sheets are made from it by sending the paste in a hot condition over long wide belts moved over cylindrical rollers .
The colony had all the comforts and facilities of a metro city. The post master and bank manager were treated as part of the company’s staff and we were provided furnished quarters in the colony. Our families were part of the social gatherings, garden parties and religious festivities going on in the colony. The gigantic factory and the township were at the two ends of the village at the very edge of the forest and were protected only by high walls topped by barbed wire. It is said that in olden days when the compound wall and barbed wire fencing were still not erected thirsty antelopes and bear used to visit the outskirts of the colony on hot summer days searching for water!
The company was a very rich company. For the many visiting senior specialists from rest of India or abroad there were palatial air conditioned quarters. The factory was ,at the time when I worked as post master, in the stage of upgrading technology, introducing automation in some sections and computerizing the company office . The office of the company was vast and centrally air conditioned . I had best friends among the junior managers. There were frequent visits by experts and senior managers from Delhi,Mumbai etc . In the colony we had 24 hour water, 24 hour electricity and channel TV and felt as if living in a big city. Visitors may not even realize that outside the colony’s campus there existed a very big old village which in spite of its big bazaars possessed a rural appearance with winding lanes, unsatisfactory drainage etc. There were prosperous agricultural villages near by but they were the traditional Indian villages. The channel TV gave access to channels like BBC, CNN, National Geographic etc besides a few the Indian language channels.
There was high school with big play ground. There were open air stadiums where cultural events and business discussions etc were held in a garden party environment with ladies too participating .There was a most beautiful marble temple with beautiful flower gardens. There were bhajans and religious discourses. The post office and the bank were situated in spacious buildings of the company between the staff colony and the factory.The post office had a beautiful rose garden in the front . Most employees had motorbikes .So daily two times a day there would be a big rush of motor bikes on the road when staff were relieved from shift duty .At such times many would stop at the post office for some work. There would be rush only for an hour and then there would be complete calm. The remaining time was taken up fully by the work relating to checking accounts of rural post offices. The work was suffocating from 9 AM till 3 PM.
In the evenings elegantly dressed ladies from the colony travelling on motorbikes or cars with their husbands would visit the big shops for shopping . The customers for the costly dazzling consumer goods were generally the well paid company employees . The economy of the village heavily depended on the company. Religious festivals, National festivals, New Year’s day etc were celebrated in the colony in a big way. The video recordings of the festivities would be shown next day on the channel TV. The company had its own secure digital phone networks. The company had their transport to reach the city where they had permanent a/c accommodation in big hotels and from there to go by train or plane to any place in India.