The gang :
Ajay (Ajaymama) & Margerata Bhattacharyya
Usha Rani (Boromaima) Bhattacharyya
Protima (Mejomashi) & Sugata (Bapi) Chakraborty
Maitreyi (Mitu), Madhuparna (Bumpy) & Aparajita (Rumpa) Choudhury
Sandipan (Pimpu), Esha (Mamni) & Soumwa (Tokai) Mukherjee
Lokendra Nath & Chitrita (Pinkie) Roychoudhury
Destination : At 22.59ºN, 88.92ºE Taki is the erstwhile capital city of an old and defunct Kingdom of Taki. It is presently a municipality under Hasnabad police station, Basirhat subdivision in North 24 Parganas district in West Bengal, India. It is separated from Bangladesh by the River Ichhamati.
Day : Sunday 2.12.07
The idea : It was Ajaymama’s brain wave to spend a day out, somewhere not too close to Calcutta, have lunch, a little site-seeing & back, to celebrate the 25th Wedding Anniversary of Loken & Pinkie. As ideas go, this turned out to be a resounding success, with a few glitches thrown in, to make the trip memorable. The actual logistics was courtesy Mejomashi. Navigators on the road were Pimpu and Bapi.
The journeys : This was one of those rare trips, where from the beginning the journey started pleasantly. We assembled at Mejomashi’s house at Salt Lake or Bidhannagar. Bimal was hired with his 20 seater (for school children) bus for the 12½ of us. So, it was quite spacious. We took off at about 10:15, travelling southward along the E M Bypass, passed Science City turned left to take the road to Bantala, Basanti etc. just by the P C Chandra Park, along road no. 3 (see map). As it turned out, the road was narrow, but unusually good for a Bengal village road. It was decidedly far better than the congested & pot-holed road no. 2, via Madhyamgram, Barasat, Dhanyakuriya, Basirhat etc., which is the normal road. Barely had we passed the outskirts of Calcutta, passed by drains carrying stinking effluents from leather factories, were we in pristine village area, dotted by crowded little market places at long intervals. By & by we passed by Bantala Leather Complex, Bhojerhat, Kajirhat, Narayanpur, Bhangor, Ghatakpukur, Chandipur, Ghushighat, Kancahanpukur, Shis, Minakhña, Kalitola, Malancha Bazar / Trimali, Nimich, Bhebia Bazar, Murari Shah Choumathha, Habaspur, Makhalagachha, Kumarpukur, Talpukur Bazar, New Thhuba Rail Gate, Thhuba and finally to Taki.
On the way, we were intrigued by a number of strange vehicles. Basically, they were large tricycles, whose front is the frame and engine of a motorcycle, while the rear was a flat bed made of slatted wood. As a vehicle, it is as universal as possible. So, we came across one carrying a huge pile of hay, one with mounds of freshly cut ripe rice plants, one with several goats, one with plastic pails, even one acting as a passenger bus, albeit without hood or walls.
While coming back, local public pointed us to the usual road, not the one which we came by. After travelling some distance, we quickly got lost. Soon darkness fell and we were literally in the dark. Guided by passers-by, we zigzagged vaguely towards home. In village after village, I noticed the faithful in their evening namaz prayer. Since they faced west, we were assured that we were indeed travelling west towards Calcutta.
The place : A room was booked for us at Nripendra Atithishala (= guest house). It belongs to Taki Municipality. It turned out to be in the 1st floor. Boromaima, always game, climbed up with some assistance. But this room was without a view to the River Ichhamati, flowing just behind the house and dividing India from Bangladesh. Ajayamama then booked another room in the 2nd floor, which had a balcony with a beautiful view to the river & to Bangladesh visible through the haze across the water. River Ichhamati was in ebb, when we arrived. Long procession of water hyacinths made their journey towards the Bay of Bengal. This procession changed their mind at midday, when they started to turn back and move upstream as the tide turned. Around midday, a large and noisy group of teenage boys and girls materialized from nowhere, most probably from Calcutta. They were lured by the boatmen to take pleasure boat trips in the Ichhamati. The way they carelessly piled too many to each rickety boat, it would be a surprise, if they did not overturn a boat or two.
During our perambulation along the banks of the Ichhamati we came across a shy young man playing a soulful tune in a flute. The tune had a deep village soul. A sample of the tune was recorded and carried back with us. I remembered, when 20 years earlier Pinkie & I came here first, a tall, elderly beggar playing the same tune in the local train. Surprisingly, he was playing the flute through his nose. On hearing this, this young man suddenly became very nostalgic and explained, that beggar is actually his impetus. It is sad, that such rural talents never get the recognition they deserve for keeping native music alive. The young man claimed to be available at the steamer wharf daily from 4:00 to 8:00 pm. I wish some talent hunter would discover him one day to have his music recorded and given proper circulation.
Left : Pinkie in dance pose in the courtyard
Middle : Margareta & Ajaymama, after we settled Boromaima in the 2nd floor
Right : The photographer (me, at left) ……....
Photo by Ajaymama
View of the Guest House garden. Bangladesh across the Ichhamati River.
Rumpa was in for a surprise, when she received an SMS in her cellphone, “Dear Airtel, Delhi customer, welcome to Airtel, Bangladesh. Call rates to India are Rs26, to Bangladesh Rs16 per min. SMS Rs8. For assistance contact …”. We discovered, that towers in Bangladesh were much closer, so Taki population never use cellphone, as all calls become international calls, with appropriate high rates. Fortunately I was carrying my cellphone with BSNL connection, which has no presence in Bangladesh. So, I could talk home without international rates of call.
Just next to the Guest House, there is a brand new hotel called Suhasini Guest House, Taki Uttar Bari, P O Taki, N24 Parganas, WB, phone (03217) 325 493, (953217) 234 108, 093308 26779. Bookings can be made by paying advance money to the Suhasini Guest House, Taki or their Calcutta agents Mr P K Chaudhury, Netajinagar phone 93310 26585 or Mrs Swaswati Biswas, Kalindi, phone 93393 75915. Local report says, it is much better both for Boarding & Lodging. It has deep covered balconies in each floor. However, the balcony is common for all rooms, thus you may find inquisitive souls peeping into your room from the balcony-side window.