Category Archives: Places

The Beautiful Forest: The Sundarbans

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It was a journey of a kind– expedition on a river encircling a jungle- the Sundarbans. Sundarban (pronounced Shundor-bon) is named after the Sundari trees it is famous for. Sundarban National Park, a mangrove forest on the islands of the Ganga Delta, is home to a hundred Royal Bengal Tigers. It is spread over both India and Bangladesh, with 1,330.12 km2 (328,680 acres) in India alone. Tigers, unlike humans, have no boundaries. So they keep travelling between both the neighboring countries and attacking humans as if all humans are the same. Such foolish creatures!

Staple rice and fish is the common diet of the poor humans who co-exist with these carnivores. For us, the citizens of the modern world, life seems miserable there. People lack basic amenities. They are always in the pincer grip of fear. There was a time when people used to enter deep forests for fishing. Only a few of the fishermen who went on such expeditions were lucky enough to see dusk falling on them again. Life was such that women, when they bid farewell to their men leaving for work, removed all signs of marriage- the vermillion and the bangles from their body. They put those back on only when their husbands, with great luck, returned to their huts. It was not just a simple return home, but something akin to a return from visiting Yamraj himself.

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Conditions have certainly improved a manifold from those days. Sunderbans is now famous for its splendour and the regal beauty of the fauna it nourishes. I was awe-struck by the serenity of the scenery that surrounded me as our launch made its ways through the river. We were all waiting in anticipation for the royalty of catching a glimpse of the Tiger and cry out–

“Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?”

(William Blake)

Unfortunately, I could not pay homage to the Royal creature. Instead, I paid homage at the temple of Bandevi (the Goddess of the forest, pronounced Bon Devi) who is depicted as an idol being worshiped by the human-tiger devotee. I also saw the muscular Spotted Deer watching us in the shade of the trees.


It was a romantic journey, with an especially ecstatic night spent listening to the stories of the Sundarbans from the boatman, with the boat docked mid-river, the shimmering water reflecting the moon.


Who was she?

It was a creepy friend I had. A very unnatural boy with unique habits and unique hobbies. Maybe it was this uniqueness in my friend that made me like him. He was my roommate. Maybe if I knew him before we became roommates we would not have become roommates but as destiny would have it, a small thread of my life got tied to his. 

I anticipated that it would also be a devil I will meet that day. But the person I saw was not obviously a devil. He was no angel also. In his looks he was quite normal. Tall, underweight, chocolate coloured and wearing goggle-like-glasses. He sported a long nose, which fell a bit short from that of Pinocchio’s. Only a small bunch of hair was left on the top of his head. He came out on my the third ring of the bell an apologized saying that his mind was wandering. He was courteous but not friendly.

It was the room, or to say the location of the building that convinced me on putting up my quarters there. It was 10 mins from Dumdum airport and metro on both sides and 20 mins away from my place of work. There were three markets, a smaller one near and the others at 5 mins distance by bus. Light but not the sound from the main road reached the apartment. Fresh air entered from each window. Mosquitoes were a problem but not a great one. The rent was not cheap but affordable. 

On weekdays I was engaged at work from nine o’ clock in the morning till eight o’ clock in the evening. I had neither patience or energy to interact with my roommate after this hours. He did not seem to mind an I did not seem to care. So our interactions always took place during Saturdays and Sundays. He never volunteered to talk so I always began the conversation. His voice was low and weak. It took me a few weeks to know that he was an assistant professor at a god-knows-which institute.

He used to make tea. I don’t know what unique ingredients did he add to his tea but it tasted really good. So I insisted on him making more.Once I had a desire to find out the special ingredients of the tea and went to the kitchen. He was talking to himself. I spoke aloud,”Hi!”He literally jumped up an saw a ghost in front of him. It was several seconds before he realized the ghost was me. Go knows what was he doing. I also came to know ,except his talking-to-himself habit, his tea’s special ingredient. Guess what? His skill.

Except for his tea and his talking-to-himself habit, there were many things eccentric about him. For once he never switched off the light of the room at night. I don’t know how he managed to sleep will all lights on. Maybe he was afraid of dark. He hated power cuts. He actually made a bulb which runs on a battery and always carried with him. Some professors are boring. But I have not any professor who has not seen a cinema even once in life. He never wore anything but his grey pants, off-white shirt and his BATA canvas shoes.

One day I had returned early from office to join a friend, Sihika’s birthday party after dressing up. When I entered the flat I heard Akhil screaming at someone. I entered his room hurriedly without knocking to find out what was wrong. Something was terribly wrong indeed. He was screaming on no one. His phone was on the desk. The moment I entered he saw me. He was panting. He colored, and then grew pale. He looked at something with beseeching eyes. Then he looked at me again and grew pale.

What is it Akhil?”,I asked.

“Nothing, really nothing. I am too tired. Its just that.”

“Whatever it is Akhil, you can tell me. Trust me.”

 “It’s nothing. I need some rest.”

“OK, have some rest.”

 Yes, he needed rest.But it was not work that tired him. I knew that he was among those few men who loved their work. It was something else or maybe someone else that was bothering him.

I was most surprised when I found a letter from a well known psychiatrist addressed to Akhil in our common letter box. So I was most probably living with a psycho. Very well. I had to fight the desire to open it. But I knew I had to know what was happening with this man I shared the flat with. So when he was sitting in the dining room, reading the morning news, I handed over the envelop to him looking at him with a quizzical eye. He opened his mouth to say something but could not utter the exact words. I raised my eyebrows in disgust.

“I see her. She was a research scientist. We were on a project together. A very important one. But it went wrong. She blew herself up. No I blew her up. I mixed the wrong ratios of the chemical. A slight change makes a great difference. So when I left the lab I heard the explosion.”, he could speak no more. He sat there for some time and continued,”She is coercing me to continue the project. But I can’t risk it. I can’t risk another life.” Tears went down his cheek,”She is my best friend.Was my…..”

I didn’t keep any time to find out who this ‘she’ was, a ghost, a delusion or whatever. Living with either a psycho or a ghost didn’t suite me. So I deserted this friend of mine, and in a week from this incident, shifted my position to the present quarters. I pray to God to help him where I had deserted him. I wish that life erases this memory from my mind.

A msg from a Beach!

We r now sitting on a cemented bank before the sea. The waves r rising and falling. I can hear the sound of the restless sea. All the hawkers r moving around us and shouting the names of different products they hv. Nature has been disturbed here by human insanity. This beach is destroyed, robbed out of his beauty. This is a very common state to reach after popularity. Most of the time sea has rebounded, taken its revenge in high fury. This maddening crowd has also taken steps to avoid the sea’s outburst. And thus this beach has been more destroyed.

Could Kala Pani(Black Water) be so beautiful?

Dying Dock(All the ship come up here for repair and maintenance)
Dying Dock
(All the ship come up here for repair and maintenance)

Sunset in AndamanSunset in Andaman

Middle Andaman
Middle Andaman
To Baratang!
To Baratang!
To limestone cave!(Through snake filled waters)
To limestone cave!
(Through snake filled waters)
Neil IslandGo deep into the sea!
Neil Island
Go deep into the sea!
Neil Island
Neil Island(The Blue Island)
Natural Bridge at Lakshmanpur Beach(2), Neil Island
Sunset at Radhanagar beach, Havelock
Sunset at Radhanagar beach, Havelock
A Giant Lobster!
A Giant Lobster
And in the mist of all this 'The Cellular Jail'- a dark spot on full moon.
And in the mist of all this ‘The Cellular Jail’- a dark spot on full moon.

Incredible Kolkata!

Yesterday I received a letter from a friend. It is a unique letter with unique ideas. I think all of you should read it.

Howrah Bridge
Howrah Bridge

Dear T2,

I visited Kolkata after a long time. I couldn’t believe what I saw. We arrived in Howrah Station   on time. Coolies took our luggage out on trolleys. I saw the station. Couldn’t believe it could be Horwrah. Not a single wrapper was lying here and there. We immediately got a taxi when we came out at quite a fair price. We were travelling to another part of the city. I was taking in the scene. The roads were as clean as the station. I could see no one spitting on roads. The footpath was in a very good condition. It was decorated by faces carved on pillars. And there were unique looking dustbins. The road looked like a winding path of fairy tales.

The canals were covered with arch shaped structures. The structures contained a depression in the center where plants were grown and creepers were climbing down from the sides. You would think you have seen a mini botanical garden. There were even no stickers or ghastly writings on any wall.

And the most incredible thing is we reached uncle’s house without facing a jam. I still have to take in what had happened to our place.

Yours lovingly,


I wish to see this Kolkata also. Don’t you?