Monday, 30 January 2017

Diamonds and Dates - Back On The Trail

From Incognita:

Our boat drifts back onto charted waters after free-floating a while in dark and risky underground streams of the mind.
Monday morning brought inspiration from one of our page contributors Panthera Leo, as she posted her picture in a boat near the Imambara, Hooghly with a quote from Roman Payne's "The Wandress"
"Just as a painter paints,
and a ponderer ponders,
a writer writes,
and a wanderer wanders." 

I promptly flipped open the pages of our Imramma Journal to resume where we left off writing the chronicles of  our own wanderings.

This space has not seen an update for two years. That's as long as we wandered without pause. Or maybe just didn't find a pause in the right place at the right time for writing it all down and sharing.

The last time we posted, we were looking forward to Varanasi where I, at least, was looking for nothing in particular. I was rewarded with much that I took with me locked away in deep inner spaces where the spirit resides and plays free. Maybe now is the time to unlock those spaces and let those hidden energies float free like the mist over the Ganga after dark. I can hear the waves lapping against the steep, dark steps of ghat after ghat as Babu, our boatman flips his oar and cuts through the dark, silken waters to take our boat slowly and steadily from Dashashvamedha back to Chowki Ghat. An occasional floating lamp crosses the boat's path, gently twinkling its benevolent eye in our direction as it seems to say "so long, see you again". We have already set our own lamp offering to the river, afloat (the picture shows you our Research Associate Nipun Srivastava getting the lamp ready) and watched as it set out on its own Imramma.
While we owe our readers a great deal more on our Varanasi adventure, we will reserve most of it as part of the offerings included in Project StepWell - part of  our "Rivers of Fortune" journey that started in 2007 (you will find those tales recorded elsewhere on this space) as a project for Maine Maritime Academy. Chakratirtha Travels was still in the future, awaiting birth.

That journey started on the banks of the Hooghly in Kolkata with our co-founder and mentor Kim Raikes and her family.
And we will rewind to our 2008 summer trip to Diamond Harbour before we move forward to January 2016 that saw me circling back to the same location.
Dilip Das casting his nets in the Hooghly at Diamond Harbor - May 2008
Pic Kim Raikes

 The beautiful Bengal countryside off Diamond Harbor Road
Pic Mary Raikes - May 2008

Early morning mist in May on DH Road
Pic Mary Raikes - May 2008

The shared journey was to honor another journey that had taken place a year and three months earlier, for the final closing of a chapter in my personal heritage. A journey to mark the end of one lifetime for my mother and her symbolic crossing to another realm through the mingling of what remained of her with the silken silt of the Ganges even as a part drifted toward the the Mother Waters. 
This time it was a warm, humid dawn that bloomed into a hot summer day soon after sunrise. The memories of that drive are shrouded in the mists you see in the picture. The road seems to lead to a portal. The chill from that earlier morning was missing as also the sadness of parting. This was the warmth of new meetings and the blazing light of new horizons.

Forward to 2016 January and this is the scene at the very same site we visited in May 2008.
Back to Diamond Harbor with a new companion Tracie Lee from Australia
Tracie is on a Guided Imramma with me. It is an unusually warm January day. The ghat looks different at high noon. You can see the sparkling Diamonds in the water. 

Stone slabs to check erosion are covered over with silt and vegetation
The drive has been riddled with traffic snarls and we reach much later than we had hoped. The route is dusty and we notice random, uncontrolled construction dangerously close to the edge of a road that has always been narrow and not the easiest to navigate. My time machine ticks rapidly back to 1994 and then like a breath of fresh air the nineteen sixties rush in and take over. I taste again the chocolate cones from Flury's* that stayed chilled in the big green pail that would remind my child-self of a squat genie-bottle holding the secrets to cold ice cream and more.  I swiftly leap back into the dust of the present as I hear Tracie sneeze. The dust from all that haphazard construction is getting to her. We turn up the glass and look forward to reaching soon and finding breakfast.
Some snippets of the 51km drive from the city. 

These are best watched on Youtube or using the fullscreen option here, and you can try them slowed down as well

There are a few remaining pockets of pristine green and glass - fields of rice and still ponds - gleaming in the morning sun.  The vehicle is Bapi's Green Taxi aka Sabuj Rath

Well, I have spoken a little about the diamonds but your curiosity about the dates has been piqued for sure. Watch this space!

... to be continued ...

*This is the original tea-room on Park Street   - what you see now is an inept "recreation" - whose history needs detailed reconstruction before the last of that generation fade into history too. I wish I had taken down all those memories from my parents*

Please click on the links to enjoy the post fully. You can see the pictures enlarged if you click on them. 


  1. Such a lovely narration . Soulful . Felt the flow and got swept along ! .......that evocative interlude of memories , of the day a loved one melted away into Ganga , was deeply moving . I want to go on such trips " looking for nothing ....but finding , well , 'diamonds' to be locked away within the spirit .
    Will surely watch this space ......

    1. I love the ease with which you joined the stream and flowed along. You response inspires me to flow in newer directions. Thank you and lots of love!

  2. Maya, you touched a part of me that wants to keep traveling and writing forever! Much love! Hope to join you on some trip some day!

    1. We can make it any time. I have a lot of interesting journeys I'd love to have you on as my companion. Glad you could open the link at last!