There is a man who makes managing busy traffic on a bustling east Kolkata road look like a dream job. Ashok Gupta (59) is seen showing off his innovative dance steps while directing vehicles near gate no. 4 at Rajarhat's Eco Tourism Park for 12 hours a day, six days a week.
The passing commuters, who see him performing such antics in the scorching heat, cannot help but smile. There are a few who just look out in surprise from windows of cars and buses. While, there are others, who stop to click pictures.
Ashok is a resident of Hooghly district’s Dankuni and is not a traffic police by profession. He has been appointed by a private security company that has been outsourced the job of flagging through heavy vehicles supplying material for the ongoing Garia-Airport metro railway project.
Ashok, who manages the traffic, wearing a fluorescent orange jacket and helmet, says that it is the smile on people’s face that keeps him going. Though he has a very hectic job and earns a meagre salary, the happiness that he spreads through his song and dance is enough to motivate him.
While speaking to IANS, Ashok said,
Some people ask me why I do it. In today's busy life, people often don't get enough time or reason to smile. So I'm trying to make people smile through my dance steps.
He further told IANS,
The more I see people smiling and appreciating (what I do), the more I feel encouraged. While managing traffic under the scorching sun for so long, this music and dance steps leave me energised.
Ashok is a huge fan of Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar and constantly plays old Hindi songs, such as "Chala jata hu... Kisi ke dhun pe" and "Ek larki peheli baar", on his cell phone.
According to IANS, he said,
I face no issues in managing the traffic while dancing. I just connect the head phones of my mobile to my ears and get lost in the music.
Ashok has been doing this job for the past seven years now. However, he is so passionate about his job that he goes above and beyond his assigned responsibility. He has been appointed to pass the heavy vehicles ferrying materials for the metro project. Apart from performing his assigned task, he has also proactively taken up the responsibility of managing the general traffic.
While speaking with IANS, he said,
All traffic sergeants in this area are happy with me. They've asked me to keep doing what I'm doing. They say I am doing a good job of managing traffic.
Ashok has danced previously on the road as well. However, he did not get any recognition before this. While speaking with IANS regarding this, he said,
It is the love of the people of Rajarhat that has really encouraged me in my dance. Some people, who frequently travel through this place, tell me they feel something is missing when I'm not there.
There is a young helper, Biswajit Saha, who works with Ashok, and really admires the amount of effort that his senior puts into his work. Biswajit told IANS,
We are proud of him. The way he works for 12 hours daily with a smile on his face motivates youngsters like us.
Ashok initially faced a lot of apprehension and criticism from his family, especially his sons. While speaking about this, he said,
My sons initially objected to my dancing and said I am ruining the prestige of the family. But after seeing the people's response, they are happy now. They say 'you are a great man'.
The locals and the regular commuters simply adore Ashok. An IT employee, Santanu Paul, told IANS,
I've seen him before. It is wonderful how he is spreading love and happiness with his dance. Whenever I pass through this point, my eyes automatically turn to him.
Ashok considers his positive attitude to life and the ability to enjoy his work as his twin secrets. The dancing marshal told IANS,
I want to tell today's generation that whatever they do in life they should do it from the heart and enjoy it. There is nothing like getting pleasure and satisfaction out of your livelihood.