Mandarmani Part II

Saturday 13th Sep
The day of our journey. We were unable to put our entire concentration to work and waited impatiently for the clock to strike 2:30 pm, the time for our official logout. God had been benevolent throughout the trip, read on, and please count the number of times, for me.
We did not have to wait for long, there was a major fault at some nearby electric post and there was no electricity from 1 in the afternoon. We had candle-light lunch together, chatted, planned and at around 3:00 hopped onto our Scorpio. There was another car as well, a Honda City. Our Scorpio had a more experienced driver and Laltu(our driver) knew the route so the other car had to follow. It was tremendously hot and sunny the entire day, but the moment we began loading our luggages, the weather changed and it started raining just as we started. We drove through the slow traffic initially for jam due to heavy showers, but once we reached the Vidyasagar Setu (Second hooghly Bridge), there was no stopping us, the cars kept racing ahead. After about two hours of journey, we received a call from the Honda City, which had lagged behind. Their car was making terrible sounds, the silencer pipe needed welding. They had stopped at a garrage and would take some time to re-join us. We were stuck near the Kolaghat bridge traffic jam, one flank of the two-way road was being repaired.
I had the sole responsibilty of handling the finances for this trip, all the money as well as the bills were with me. After more than two hours of our journey, just before Kolaghat bridge, Bappa-da asked me, "Sunrita, did you bring that file? It had the bill for the hotel booking". I was unable to speak, my hands went numb, felt light in the stomach and head, I could only manage to shake my head from right to left in response. There was a dead silence. "What are you saying?" said Sud from the rear end of the car. Then there was silence again. I always carry a 'jjhola' with me, because of the journey, I had myself cleaned the bag the previous night and got rid of every piece of unnecessary paper. Even then my bag looked like it was nine months pregnant. It seemed like eternity. "Had this been the world of Harry Potter, I could have done an 'accio' charm to bring that bill from my office", I imagined in silence. I could clearly visualize my desk at office and the yellowish file lying innocently just next to my system. Tan spoke, breaking my trance, "Check out your envelope"...and I reached for it inside my pregnant bag, almost as if I was under some spell. There it was, the photocopy of the bill, neatly folded in between the five hundred rupee notes, I had completely forgotten about that at the freak of the moment, thank 'Prabhu' it was xeroxed in the first place.
We reached Sher-e-Punjab dhaba, Bappa-da called up the hotel and enquired about road conditions and dinner facilities while also confessing to them that we were not carrying the original bill. After hanging up, he came to us with a big smile,"It's alright they said, it does not matter". Phew!! I started speaking again after I don't know how long. We had samosas and egg pakora, the other car had also arrived at the dhaba by then. We started off.
It was drizzling and the Honda City could not be sighted at the back. We called them up, Dipu, from the Honda, informed us, their wiper was not functioning. We stopped, waited for them, found a mechanic, repaired it and after forty-five minutes resumed our drive. The drive was fabulous, the roads were deserted and there was a sparkling moon, only an 'ant-bite' short of being the full circle. It was a very long journey.
The last 5km of the journey was beautiful. We had to drive the entire length on the beach. The only lights visible in front were emanating from the car headlights and in it we saw hundreds of red crabs scattered on the shore. Some local people had adviced us not to ventu
re outside the track marks already left by other cars on the beach, the reason being that, there was quicksand and our car tyres could easily sink. On seeing the crabs, Shanky got so excited that he actually drove out of the marks and came next to our car, and just as we were about to enter our hotel, their car tyre sank in the sand. At long last when we disembarked in front of the hotel gates, a manual clock was struck twelve times.

Sunday 14th September : Dinner was served at 1 am. Next morning we woke up early at 5:30 and rushed to the beach.

My pet "Sunday"- a Red Crab The most co-operative member of our group - Tinnu and Sheikh Sammad-a local boy, showing us how to catch a red crab

Mandarmani bade us a teary adieu while we left the hotel early next morning at 5:30 am. God was good to us for the entire trip like I have already mentioned. We realised that for the nth time when we saw The news headlines (both print and tv) next day - please CLICK HERE

Thanks Arindam-da for everything, this was my life's first independant trip, I learnt a lot from you...Thanks Tanusri for being there with me for Mandarmani partII....Thanks Binod...Thanks Rima..Thanks Sudeep for being such a sport and also for ALL the lovely snaps...Thanks one and Thanks all


    On September 19, 2008 at 10:45 AM Arindam Da said...

    Great-- simply great. This is an awesome post. Thank you Rai for sketching the entire scene with words so nicely.

    Rai... I don't know what all and how much u learnt from me, but I can say for sure that U've scaled up your personality by managing things like finance and specially my eccentric nature of getting out of the car over and over again! Get urslf prepared for the next trip....


    6... u thankd god, o rather god helped u 6 times as u mentioned...
    n 7 if u add that report bout the cyclone.

    nice place btw


    Sunni!! u have pictured the whole scene nicely in ur post and thanx for remembering the spree of the whole tour as if we just returned back yesterday only.It is an awsome piece of writing which everyone can't do unless and until he/she feels deeply from their heart....


    good one :-)