Around 500 young men trooped into Howrah’s Salkia Hindu High School on Sunday afternoon, wielding an anachronistic device that could help them land a job. Some slung it over a shoulder, others carried it above their heads like a modern-day Atlas, while some others hired cabs just to ferry it.
In an age of laptop-toting business executives, the state department of West Bengal, oblivious to Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s claims of industrialisation, demanded that candidates for the typist’s job come armed with their own machines.
It is hard enough to find typewriters anywhere these days, but somehow, the aspirants managed. Still, in Kolkata’s humid weather, lugging around a typewriter that could weigh between five and 10 kilogram made for an inhuman exercise.
Those from far off districts like Midnapore and Burdwan were the worst hit. A few candidates came on foot from Howrah station while many others reached the examination centre in rented vehicles.
Laxmikanta Samanta, from Keshoari in West Midnapore, said he started from home around 4 am. “I hired a taxi for Rs. 2,500 and paid another Rs. 700 to rent a typewriter from a neighbourhood typing school,” he said.
Bakul Garai from Dharmagram in West Midnapore came by train and reached the examination centre carrying the machine on his head.
“I had to hire a machine for Rs 600 from my locality,” said Garai.
Anticipating the huge demand for typewriters among outstation candidates, the locals made a killing. “Many of my friends had to pay Rs 1,200-2,500 to arrange the machine from local persons,” said Barun Kumar Dey of Midnapore.
“For a 15-minute typewriting test, I had to pay Rs. 1800,” complained a candidate on condition of anonymity.
What will they think of next? Getting your own bus to apply for a driver’s job?