Every day apart from Sundays, at 4 in the morning, Durga stands up from her night shelter on the station platform and gets ready to board the first train to Barasat. It arrives before the first sunlights have touched DumDum, at 4.20; a slowpaced train that takes almost one hour to cover 17 kilometres. Never mind, one can always fill it chatting a bit, or lying down to sleep again, or looking at the activities of other early birds – persons whose invisible work ensures the delivery of such obvious things as newspapers and milk. Barasat is not the final destination: it takes another 40-50 minutes by cycle-van to reach her village. It will ride along the National Highway 34 with its new buildings made of glass and plastic and car showrooms that for Durga, hint at the arrival of Calcutta in the town; and after two kilometres, take a smaller road flanked by villages on the right and paddy fields on the left. 09_DUR_2-2_RHY_PIC_02.jpg
At a curve, the van stops. Close-by is a pathway that, departing from the main road, leads to a group of houses alongside a pond. While she refreshes herself and takes some rest, her eldest daughter attends to the preparation of breakfast for their eight members family; Durga's husband has already gone out to collect taro and banana stems for her next Calcutta trip. She herself doesn't resolve to do something before 10am: a sickle in her hand, she enters a field that only apparently lies idle, and amidst weeds and young fruit trees, she starts to cut the leaves of a climber – kumro, pumpkin. Althout collecting those is a hassle due to the plant's secretions, which provokes skin rushes, they make a nice curry that the city alike village people appreciate. After almost an hour, she leaves the plot, carrying everything to a small shadowy area by the pond and dumping it there; her husband should arrive soon and add to hers his stuff. 09_DUR_2-2_RHY_PIC_08.jpg
1pm: time to take shower and eat and maybe even more crucially, to gather forces before a new departure. Leaving the dish-washing to her younger daughter, she takes the direction of the pond. Not that she would worry about her vegetables, but a bunch of women has gathered under the generous shadow of the mango trees, and Durga likes to join the party. She's welcomed by her neighbours, who expect she'll have some funny stories from the station or incidents with her customers to share. In fact, she plays the role of an entertaining, if disillusioned, reporter from the city – a city that she, however, doesn't encounter but at the northern threshold of DumDum. At around 2pm, it is already time to turn to serious matters: preparing and packing all edible plants for transportation. While she reaches Barasat by a taker, a jeep that functions like a collective taxi, her husband transfers the goods to the station by cycle-van. 09_DUR_2-2_RHY_PIC_14.jpg
Together, husband and wife download the goods, all packed in jute and propylene sacks of varying sizes, from the van; balancing a huge bulk on her head, she carries and deposes it at the platform, where other befriended women are waiting for the 3.30 train. A little later, again with the help of her husband, she will load the big sack and the remaining vegetables on the vendors' wagon and take off, all alone. Eleven hours after leaving DumDum, she's again on a train that shall bring her back there, ignoring the taciturn biri-smokers that surround her and are guarding different quantities of vegetables and flowers, all for the city. 09_DUR_2-2_RHY_PIC_22.jpg
When the train reaches DumDum, generally by 4.30pm, Durga doesn't hesitate for a second: she hires someone to help her with the bulk and carries by herself whatever she can till the station's frontside; within half an hour, she's done displaying her vegetables and can start selling those. Business will go on until ca. 11pm, when along with a few other female sellers, she will pack her stuff and prepare for the night. 09_DUR_2-2_RHY_PIC_25.jpg