| Kids take part in a fancy dress competition at TEFL Play School in Patna on Thursday. Picture by Jai Prakash |
Whispers of vacation reverberated in the government and corporate offices on Thursday in the run-up to a break from work for nearly a week, virtually silencing serious talks on assignments and deadlines.
A day before the Puja holiday begins, the government employees were busy giving a final shape to their vacation plans. While a few chatted on their tours, some others were engrossed in taking tips from other colleagues on hotspots near home.
The state government employees would have to work just for three days till October 20. The secretariat would be closed for four days for Puja vacation from Friday (October 11 to 14). The state holiday for Id is on October 16. October 19 and 20 fall on Saturday and Sunday — off days for most government employees.
Harishankar, an officer in the state urban development and housing department, said: “Most people were in a festive mood today (Thursday). I have planned to go to my ancestral home in Saharsa with my family to spend the vacation.”
The officer’s claim aptly portrayed the atmosphere in the secretariat on Thursday. Several officers were busy discussing their holiday plans while exchanging notes.
Advocates of Patna High Court also seemed to be in the festive mood as their 11-day vacation started from today (Thursday).
“Most of my lawyer friends have left the city today (Thursday) for spending the vacation in their respective hometowns. Some have planned to go places like Goa or other coastal areas in the south. A few lawyers like me would be spending the vacation at home preparing for the cases to be heard after the court reopens,” said Ravi Parmar, a practising lawyer at Patna High Court.
Travel and tour operators claimed that the vacation of those going to the Andamans or coastal hotspots like Puri in Odisha might be spoilt by the cyclone Phailin, against which the Bihar government has also issued an alert.
Ashish Sen, director, India Meteorological Department, Patna, said a forecast of heavy rainfall at many places in Bihar has been issued between October 13 and 15, depending on the movement of Phailin.
Students have also started going home. The Puja vacation at Patna University has commenced from Thursday. From Friday, IIT-Patna and NIT-Patna would also remain closed.
Outstation students staying in hostels were all set to head home to celebrate the festival with their families.
“I had not gone to my home in Darbhanga after Holi. I was waiting eagerly for the Puja vacation. I was so restless that I took the train last night though the vacation will start from tomorrow (Friday),” Gyan Prakash Singh, a final-year student of mechanical engineering at NIT-Patna, told The Telegraph over phone.
A student of Patna University was seen walking restlessly at Patna Junction because he did not get a confirmed ticket.
“I am going to my home in Jamshedpur after a long time. But I do not have a confirmed ticket. I don’t know how shall I travel in this rush,” said Jay Kumar, pointing to a overcrowded train pulling into a platform.
A heavy rush is being observed in Patna-bound trains over the past few days.
“There is ‘no room’ in most of the Patna-bound trains from cities like Delhi and Mumbai for the next few days because a large number of people from Bihar settled outside the state come home during the Puja vacation. Extra trains are being run on the routes witnessing heavy rush. However, there is not much rush on the outbound trains from Patna as of now,” said U.K. Jha, the public relations officer of East Central Railway.
Bharat Kumar, a teacher at a school of Reliance at Jamnagar in Gujarat said he had a tough time travelling to Bihar.
“I had booked a sleeper ticket 60 days in advance. Yet, I could hardly sleep. Several passengers without confirmed tickets were travelling in my coach. Some of them sat on the berths of passengers having confirmed tickets.
Airfares have shot up because of the festival rush.
“The airfare on the Delhi-Patna route is around Rs 4,500 on normal days. It has escalated to Rs 17,000 till October 13. Similarly, the airfare on the Mumbai-Patna route has soared from around Rs 8,000 on normal days to around Rs 12,000,” said Raman Jha, manager, Super Travels, Patna.