I get asked this question a lot – what do you want to remember a year by? For the last two years, my answer thankfully, continues to be the same. Travel. Okay, so how do I count my blessings for last year? Here goes:
- Bali for a merry start to the year
- Koh Samui to ward off the summer heat
- Darjeeling for a Durga pujo cuppa
- Tajpur & Mandarmoni for a pre-Christmas jolly good time
God has been kind, oh so kind.
Tathagata and I had been looking forward to this year’s travel which we had planned to begin in May with bookings to commence from March. Needless to say, we begin our research for the next trip after every trip we take. So, everything was going according to plan until the Coronavirus bomb was dropped on mankind! By February, the shiz had already begun to spread outside of China. And we had to pull the brakes on our May travel.
For all those who had already started packing their bags, I feel you. Stay strong. This too shall pass.
While sulking over this, we got an offer. Tathagata’s colleagues had at the very last minute planned to take a trip to the Sundarban. And they wanted us in on it. It was an offer we couldn’t refuse.
Next thing we knew, the seven of us were in a car, in the wee hours of the morning, heading towards the mysterious mangroves, laughing our hearts out. Believe it or not, it was as if we had met up for an early breakfast and couldn’t help but go a tad off track to Sundarban! We even joked about it in the car.
Sundarban. What can I say of the mysterious forest that hasn’t been said already? Well, I can say this. It was an entirely different world out there.
Floating through the quiet river, all I could hear was my breath and the birds. Even the water didn’t make a sound. Time stood still. I emptied my mind and took in as much of the calmness as I could. I would need to remember and store this feeling for my keepsakes.
Ours was a blue boat. Bluer than the river. It took us to watchtowers and sanctuaries in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the Royal Bengal Tiger. All we could spot of His Highness were fresh paw marks but I had the feeling that they were watching us – we were intruders in their territory after all. We spotted a couple of wild boars, a family of deer, three Lesser Adjutant storks (more commonly known as “Madan Tak”), a (what can be called) nation of kingfisher with vibrant crests, two crocodiles, a pool of endangered turtles exclusive to Sundarban, a troop of mischievous monkeys and more.
Of all that we saw, I will hold the river closest to my heart. The river that took us into the wilderness and back. Like a quiet reminder that we are only mortal and nothing more.
Here is a bunch of pictures to remember this trip by.
Now when I think about it, it seems unbelievable that all of the above happened only weeks before our nation-wide lockdown – when the virus hadn’t begun to spread in India and all of the updates we had about it was only from China.
It’s probably God’s way of urging us to take a good, long look at all that we take for granted. This is a reminder that it can all be taken away in a blink.
Stay safe guys.