A vibrant scenic getaway

Our member Ms S. Das Chaudhuri had visited Daringbari a hill station in Orissa recently during the winter season. She describes her feelings and experience of that place.
Daringbari, a small hill station in a rural set up, located in the heart of Orissa, is a must-visit for anyone looking for a peaceful and scenic getaway. The village is situated approximately 150 km from Kolkata and is easily accessible via the bustling city of Puri.
We had decided to travel during the winter season to enjoy the scenic beauty which is a major interest while travelling from Kolkata to Puri, with lush green fields and vibrant rural life passing by. We went by car from Kolkata and halted at Puri. Daringbari is a 2-hour drive from Puri, and the road winds through lush green forests and quaint villages. We started from Puri at 8:00 a.m. in the morning with the intention of reaching Daringbari during lunch time. We had breakfast on the way and reached Daringbari at 2:00 p.m.
The homestay had a series of cottages and were surrounded by lush green hills and rolling meadows, which was a perfect escape from the hustle-bustle of city life. We had booked the cottage in advance in which food was inclusive. It had a charm of its own but I wondered why it is called Kashmir of Orissa? Is it due to the beautiful waterfall or the blue flowers seen there?
The magnificent temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, is a major attraction there which is believed to be over 500 years old. It is a perfect example of traditional Orissa architecture with intricate carvings and sculptures. But since access to the temple was by treading numerous steps uphill, it was difficult for me to visit it. I only viewed it from far.
We went to see the sunset point. But there was another point at a higher altitude, which I couldn’t climb, but definitely from there the view around must was wonderful. We appreciated the scenic beauty around and the hilly drive.
What I enjoyed most was moving within the narrow aisles of the coffee plantation, in a pollution free environment. Nights were splendid as we could see numerous fireflies. The clear sky, studded with stars gave us an opportunity for star gazing, which was an entertainment for us.
These tourist places can be enjoyed in groups. There was no dearth of tourist entertainment at our homestay. The owner ensured that we had a splendid time after dusk once we returned from our sightseeing. He had arranged for a tribal Santhal dance which was performed around a campfire. The campfire and barbeque arrangements were soothing in the cold weather. The village is dotted with traditional mud-and-thatch houses, and the local people were warm and friendly. Mostly they were from the Christian community, so we enjoyed the lights and décor as it was Christmas time.
Overall, a visit to Daringbari is a unique and memorable experience, offering a chance to immerse oneself in the beauty of rural Orissa and connect with nature. I was sad to leave the serene and peaceful atmosphere of Daringbari.

Growing up bilingual

Our member Ms M. Sen was brought up in Varanasi, a Hindi speaking community but being a Bengali, her mother insisted she learnt her mother tongue to remain bonded to her roots. Ms Sen shares her journey of learning and practicing two languages simultaneously.
First things first. I grew up in Varanasi, so in that sense, my upbringing took shape outside Bengal. When it was time for me to attend my first school, most schools in Varanasi followed a Hindi-medium curriculum and I was enrolled in one such school. That’s how I started learning Hindi. But Bengali being my native language, my mother had already made it a point to meticulously teach me how to read and write in Bengali. She had bought me interesting age-appropriate books in Bengali. In addition, she had subscribed to quality magazines such as 𝘚𝘩𝘪𝘴𝘩𝘶-𝘚𝘩𝘢𝘵𝘩𝘪 and 𝘚𝘩𝘶𝘬𝘵𝘢𝘳𝘢. We also subscribed to the daily published 𝘑𝘶𝘨𝘢𝘯𝘵𝘰𝘳 and the then famous Hindi newspaper 𝘈𝘢𝘫. My siblings and I were glued to these reading materials since our childhood days. At school, I continued with my Hindi education. My parents also subscribed to the Hindi magazine 𝘊𝘩𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘢-𝘔𝘢𝘮𝘢, just so we could read more in Hindi. So, we eased into both Bengali and Hindi simultaneously.
Since my early childhood days, I always enjoyed writing poems. I took a chance and submitted poems to 𝘈𝘢𝘫’𝘴 children’s section, 𝘉𝘢𝘢𝘭-𝘚𝘢𝘯𝘴𝘢𝘥 and pretty soon they started publishing my poems in Hindi. Once my paternal grandmother got a wind of this, she insisted that I should also write poems in Bengali. My grandmother, Shantilata Dasgupta was herself a very talented poet. Eventually, I took up writing poems in Bengali at her insistence and submitted poems to 𝘔𝘢𝘴𝘩𝘪𝘬 𝘉𝘰𝘴𝘩𝘶𝘮𝘰𝘵𝘪; these poems were also published.
All my life I have practiced my craft, and after eight decades, I continue to write in Bengali and Hindi, verse as well as prose. Based on my personal experience what I can attest to is that children can acquire language skills very easily, and once they become grounded in one particular language, they can easily learn another language. Learning one language in no way hinders learning another language.