Down Memory Lane Traveller's Diary

Lovely Lakshadweep

It was in 1995 that our member Mr. M. Saha visited Lakshadweep islands. There he had a thrilling experience amidst exotic and sun-kissed beaches, coral reefs and lush green landscape.

Those days I was in Bangalore. Actually, I had gone for some work there for two to three days. Suddenly I thought of going to Lakshadweep islands. I found out all details of going to Lakshadweep at Bangalore. I was told to go to Cochin port in Kerala. From there ships were available to go to Lakshadweep which are situated off the coast of Kerala.

I had travelled by ship before as well. I was told that I could go from Cochin to Lakshadweep by ship. There were cabins in the ship and I was travelling in one of them. There were four bunks in the cabin – two upper and two lower. Apart from me there was a family of three. The family man was a high court judge. During this journey we came to know each other very well, and later became family friends.

There are about 36 islands there but not all are inhabited. Tourists at that time were allowed only on five of them. We had visited, Agatti, Minicoy, Kalpeni, Kavaratti and Kadmat islands. During the night the ship travelled on the Arabian Sea. It was a fantastic sight to travel under the moonlit sky with the waves around silverish in colour. In the morning the ship stopped at a location few kms away from the shore. From there in country boats, we were taken to the islands. Just imagine from the middle of the sea, for 40 mins we travelled in the country boat. As we arrived the islands the water got shallow and the waves bigger. It was a thrilling experience. Every moment it seemed as if the waters would turn us over.

It took us seven days to explore Lakshadweep. In the day we used to go to the islands, spent the entire day there. Mostly in the evening after having tea and snacks we used to go back to the ship. Getting down to the country boat and climbing up to the ship using a rope ladder in mid sea was an acrobatic act for me at the age of 65. So, every day was pretty adventurous for us. The ship would then move on some more so that we could visit the next island. There was a family who wanted to celebrate their marriage anniversary in those islands. So, a place was decorated and they married once more. They had planned this beforehand. The best thing was I was the chief guest of the marriage. The food was native of that place. Fish is the staple diet there and we had varieties caught from the sea.

The most interesting sight there was of Coral reefs. In the clear waters of the Laccadive Sea the corals look beautiful. When we went by boat, we could actually see the corals and the underwater marine life. The experience was fantastic. The unspoiled coral island and reserve were seen in the Kadmat island. At the lagoon of Kavaratti, we went for scuba diving and got to see the beauty of the underwater life.

The adventurous journey of Lakshadweep is still fresh in my mind. Those memories are one of the best.

Down Memory Lane Traveller's Diary

Memories of Durgapur

Our member Ms I. Goswami, had gone to Durgapur after her marriage. She speaks about her life from unfamiliarity to a wondrous time spent there.

Many years ago, I stepped out of the Black Diamond Express and looked around at the busy platform of Durgapur Station. Newly married, very young, perhaps a bit nervous at the prospect of entering an unfamiliar phase of life. There was eager anticipation too. At that time Durgapur was considered to be a part of future India. The recent set up modern steel plants attracted brilliant engineers from all over the country. Everything looked full of promise.

From technology to romance, the latest film songs in the lips of the young generation, where Uttam Kumar and Madhabi Mukherjee played their romantic best. And helping them to create the right atmosphere was the vast backdrop of Durgapur Barrage. That too was in my mind when I set off.

Unfortunately, something very unromantic happened as we left the station. Much to the embarrassment of my husband, the car developed some problem. While the vehicle was being attended to, I walked around. It had stopped raining some time ago. Above me there was a rain washed bright blue sky. The flame red blossoms of Gulmohar trees stretching across both the sides of the road offered me a colourful welcome.

Remarkably as I look back, flowers played a silent, but very important part in my regrettably short stay in Durgapur. Bungalows had gardens in front and back separated from each other by Mehendi hedges. A pollution free climate encouraged abundant growth of seasonal flowers, roses and also vegetables. Officers were transferred or promoted, so the next occupant automatically “inherited” the garden, adding saplings of his own choice. Speaking of “inheritance” I had two very unique and pleasant experiences in this regard. In our Short Road bungalow, I came across so many varieties of “Bel” flowers- their shapes, their sizes and the subtle differences in their smells- I have never come across in my entire life. In the evenings- specially during monsoons- the surrounding area was wrapped in the mist of divine purity. Another “inheritance”- that also a first and last experience in my life- a climbing green chilly plant. It made a beautiful and natural decoration just outside my glass window.

The Short Road area was originally developed for the British technicians who came to assist in the setting up of plants. It consisted of a cluster of small lanes. Their uniqueness was that each lane had a particular tree lining both sides. Mine had Casuarina- the next Neem- the next one Gulmohar.

Benachity was the marketplace for essential household items- fish, meat, vegetables, fruits. For other purposes- clothes, utensils, ornaments, fancy gadgets- it had to be the Steel Market. The number of shops were few, but no one complained. Perhaps people were easily satisfied for some people like me the proximity of Kolkata was always there.

Originally Durgapur developed around the steel plants and some Government or private organisations. Each had its own township- its distinctive layout. Separating each development large pockets were left at their original natural state- full of majestic “Saal” trees. Passing through, one could catch glimpses of local cowherds resting under a tree- the cows grazing lazily.

It was an easy, relaxed pace of life. The factory buses plied at fixed times- picking up and dropping workers. School buses were there for children and teachers- that too at fixed timings. At evenings children played outside the bungalows.

Modern Durgapur boasts of shopping malls, super speciality hospitals, advanced schools and colleges. That is normal and desirable. I hope and wish that like me- when people look back- they would have as many precious memories as me. Also like me, they would talk about the wonderful way of life, that they enjoyed in Durgapur.