Sorry I’ve been AWOL here for some time now. There has been a lot going on the last couple of weeks. Pending bank work, family medical troubles, delayed appointments and so on. You know the drill. Outstanding responsibilities, anyone? I’ve been feeling all sorts of burnouts from that. Mental exhaustion is a bugger, guys. While that’s no excuse for my absence here, I decided to temporarily switch off my low priority engagements to keep my sanity intact. Now that things are beginning to fall into place, I found this short pocket of time to write a long-pending blog post.
Many of you who follow me on Instagram or Facebook know that I had been on a family picnic in the beginning of January. I had been meaning to write about it since then. Now that I’m actually typing it out, it seems so long ago. We were all unsure about the plan at that time because of the virus. But we also yearned for a break from our home confinement – even if it was for a day. So after a lot of back and forth in the family, we decided to just take the plunge (with precautions, of course).
A lot of planning went into this. Picnic spot selection, availability on our selected date, food, hygiene, road trip and so on. And then finally, at the dawn of 10th January, 18 of us piled into a Traveller and took off for Gadiara. This small town is located about 90 kilometres from Kolkata right off the bank of Hooghly river.
Two interesting facts about Gadiara:
- It is the convergence of three rivers – Hooghly, Rupnarayan and Damodar
- This confluence point used to house a fort built by the British to guard the entrance to the town. This fort is now submerged in the river. Only a part of the roof surfaces on low tide.
The road to Gadiara is decent until the asphalt of the highway ends and the potholed streets of the town take over. As our Traveller wobbled through the rocky road for the final 30 kilometres cruising in between strips of markets, houses and open fields, the hunger pangs grew more vicious. By the time we reached the hotel, it was past 12 in the pm.
We had booked a cottage at Rupnarayan Tourist Lodge for the day. As soon as our rooms were unlocked, we dumped our bags, freshened up and rushed to have brunch. It took stacks of koraishuti’r kochuri and piping hot alu’r dom to assuage our hunger. By now, we were all feeling energized enough to explore. But we were crunched for time. We took the steamer anyway to cross the river and scout as little of Geonkhali as time would permit.
It’s safe to say that quite a lot of running around, screaming, insider jokes and peals of laughter went down on our tour. A family of 18 on a boat after almost a year of home confinement can build up quite the ruckus. I’m sure our co-passengers didn’t mind the 10-minute afternoon entertainment they had to endure instead of their regular siesta on the boat.
We made a quick run to the Mahishadal Rajbari (palace) in Geonkhali. The palace looked magical in the afternoon light. All pictures below.
By the time we returned to the hotel, the day had almost burned up. We waited a while for the restaurant crowd to clear out and the waiters to arrange the tables in a way to accommodate all of us together. Lunch was a heart affair. From the exquisite topshe fry to the kick-ass kochi patha’r jhol and all the way to the charmer of a chutney, it was like a festivity in my mouth! This is where I rest my case.
By 6:30 pm, we wrapped up the party and were neatly seated in our Traveller, ready to make the long trip home. A blue mood light was switched on and we played some songs for a while. The moment we hit the highway, everyone started curling up into their solitary thought cocoons. Before we knew it, we were back home, sharing anecdotes of the day, laughing ourselves to sleep.
It was a beautiful, beautiful day – one to be reminisced and discussed about on many family gatherings to come.