For the Bengali, there is no cultural icon larger than Rabindranath Tagore. On his 150th anniversary, the celebration of the genius of Tagore is acquiring a political syntax as well, thanks to the ambition of Mamata Banerjee.
The Railways Minister is using the the opportunity to woo the West Bengal voter ahead of the critical 2011 assembly elections.
The railways put out full page advertisements in leading national dailies to publicise the Sanskriti Express, a mobile exhibition showcasing the life and work of Tagore. The special train will have Tagore's rare photographs,
literature and paintings spread out over five coaches.
It's another matter that the train left well behind its scheduled time, despite being flagged off by Mamata herself on Saturday.
Even more ironically, when the train visits Tagore's hometown, it will pull into a ramshackle railway station. A railway official at Howrah divisional headquarters said the station had turned into a "den for anti-socials during evening hours".
There are no facilities worth the name. The building is in bad shape, as are the platforms. It's more a stop-over for stray dogs and the destitute than a marker of India's first Nobel laureate.
"Nothing is available at the station except computerised tickets," said Bolpur municipality chairman Tapan Saha.
Residents have no choice but to use the station, unmindful of its importance. But for the railways, it is an abiding reminder of its priorities.