After every journey to Canning, one has to get on a motorized cycle van to reach Sonakhali, cross the
by boat to Basanti Bajar and get
on another motorized cycle van to Maheshpur and use the same mode of transport
on the way back. These locally made contraptions are very noisy, as well as, uncomfortable
and if you happen to sit at the back you’ve had it. In fact after the first few
bone shaking rides over bad roads my back began to hurt. The pain of a forgotten
coccyx fracture 30 years ago returned with a vengeance. Hogol River
So, looking for alternatives my search ended right outside the Canning Railway Station. On both sides of the narrow lane leading to the main road are small tourism booths advertising accommodation, boat and launch rides to popular destinations in the Sundarbans. I went up to one of them that looked a little less decrepit than the others and asked the proprietor if he could help. He was surprised at me for wanting to travel alone and I had to explain to him that I had a medical condition. He suggested that a car ride would be too expensive and he could offer me a brand new three wheeler that runs on LPG. He made a phone call and said -”I am Lal da speaking” - made enquiries and asked me to wait. Soon enough a spanking new auto rickshaw arrived. Lal da told the driver that I would travel alone and that I would be reserving his auto – a thing that is rarely done in these parts. Perhaps in order to explain why I was doing such a foolish and hence ‘boro-loki’ (like-the-rich) thing he told the astonished auto driver “Dadar komor dishtub aachhey.” (Dada has a back problem; dishtub = disturb).
I privately chuckled to myself on hearing this new use of the word. But I soon found that this phrase is common here. One of the solar powered lamps was not working at the Ashram and I was told “light-ta dishtub aachhey.” A bamboo section had warped in the sun, so “bnash-ta dishtub aachhey.”
|Apiluddin with his auto-rickshaw|
My hosts however did not quite approve of my ‘boro-loki’ and introduced me to Apiluddin Laskar, who gave me a much lower price. To my dismay his rickety auto breaks down quite often and it seems the springs and shock absorbers of his vehicle have been shot a long time ago. He however drives carefully enough, taking care not to aggravate my pain. Therefore, before getting on the train to Canning, I call him on the phone and he is there to pick me up for the about-an-hour-ride to Maheshpur. Apiluddin however flouts our original understanding that his auto is reserved and picks up a few extra passengers on the way. I have tried to tell him that this was not on, but, his nonchalance is amazing. Contract-ta dishtub aachhe!
To be able to read at night I invested on a small solar lantern, which I bought from a shop in Basanti Bajar as instructed by my hosts. Apiluddin was with me when I made this purchase. He started a quarrel with the shopkeeper over the price and when I ignored him and paid for the lantern he was aghast and complained about my ‘boro-loki’. All the way back he kept on grumbling and tried to explain how much money I would have saved had I bought less costly components separately and rigged up the whole thing myself. “It will be like daylight!” he insisted. He took the argument right up to my hosts – who agreed to give it a try. Apiluddin brought in an electrician and small LED panels were connected to the existing battery system. But, when I asked him about the cheaper system that Apiluddin was talking about, the electrician told me that there would be light but not enough to read by. “To those who are accustomed to living in darkness, the humble pidim (oil lamp) looks bright!” he said in parting.
Olive Ridley Update
The house is shaping up, the lime is well slaked, the bamboo strips are resting in the pond and the earthwork at base level has been done. But, work was slow this week with my chief carpenter Binoy Biswas taking leave to finish and deliver a ‘biyer khat’ (nuptial bed – those that are adorned with freshly plucked flowers – get the symbolism?). The resultant slow down affected my planned schedule of work. Schedule-ta dishtub aachhey!
This time sample some drawings of elephants by the boys…
I have been receiving a lot of comments about this blog (mostly via email) and I deeply appreciate your encouragement. See you all next weekend!