Written by Vaidya on 04 Aug, 2005
When you come out of the resort, the first shop that you come across on the other side of the road is Joydeb Sarkar’s hotel. Like most of the shops, the owner’s name is prominently written on the big board. This hotel has a mud…Read More
When you come out of the resort, the first shop that you come across on the other side of the road is Joydeb Sarkar’s hotel. Like most of the shops, the owner’s name is prominently written on the big board. This hotel has a mud wall around 4 feet high, and the tin roof is supported on the numerous pillars. This results in an unrestricted view in all directions, while adequate protection is there against sun and rain.
The customers start pouring in from 4:30am onwards. A board at the entrance tells you that you can have fish curry rice at Rs. 14=00, and there is nothing on the menu that costs more than Rs. 20=00 (rice included). One can have poori-sabji, keema-bread, biscuits, and tea for breakfast.
The hotel was managed jointly by him and his very active wife. I used to see them daily and hence developed a liking for the way they managed things. One day I ventured inside and asked for a cup of tea, which was extra boiled but tasty. Then I asked him whether he would make a fish-based dish for me – the best that he could make. He gave me a choice of Vishakhapatnam Rohu fish (cheaper) or the one from the adjacent ‘pukur’ / pond (expensive). I naturally went for the pukur fish. This made him immensely happy. He asked for $50 to make the purchases. As my wife doesn’t take fish, I requested one fresh vegetable from one of the village houses behind to make a vegetable gravy of his choice.
I came back to him at 12 noon. The fish in mustard-tomato sauce that he had prepared was the finest that I have ever eaten in my life. There was so much that we happily invited our neighbors too and together relished it for lunch as well as dinner. The total cost that I paid came to Rs. 60=00 only. Joydeb’s wife even lovingly offered to prepare our lunch tiffin early in the morning whenever we went for a sightseeing trip.
If it was not for the morning walks, we might not have discovered this hotel, and would have missed the interesting experience that we had.
The Raichak Jetty is the place from where launches are available to go to Kukerhatee, leading to the industrial town of Haldia. Going through Raichak and Kukerhatee is the fastest way one can go from Kolkata to Haldia. A trip to Kukerhatee costs Rs. 7=00.…Read More
The Raichak Jetty is the place from where launches are available to go to Kukerhatee, leading to the industrial town of Haldia. Going through Raichak and Kukerhatee is the fastest way one can go from Kolkata to Haldia. A trip to Kukerhatee costs Rs. 7=00. We would go to the jetty early in the mornings, and sometimes in the evenings too.
The jetty extends around 50m into the river. A cool, refreshing breeze would greet us whenever we stood there.
The crowd in the launch is a mix of shopkeepers, industrial workers, and farmers. As soon as the launch touches the jetty, people start coming out, or rather, jumping out at great speed. The people who have to get in also do the same simultaneously. Those who have come out of the launch immediately start filling into the bus, which gets filled up in no time. Some people digress to buy baingan (brinjal) bhaja, aloo (potato) bhaja (thinly cut, battered, and fried), cutlets, or maybe luchi bhajee. Everything happens like a Japanese assembly line. There is a rush period, followed by a lull till the new launch comes. During the lull period, the only activity is in the two shops – in both of them, a husband-and-wife team start making ‘bhaja’ and ‘luchis,’ chatting all the time, getting ready for the next launch. For five rupees, you can have five luchis, along with potato-tomato gravy. Each bhaja cost Re. 1=00. The taste was good, and therefore, no sales pitch is required - whatever they make gets eaten as soon as the launch arrives.
When we stood there, there would be periods of lull when we were observing, talking, and breathing in nature, followed by periods when all we could see were the hordes of people rushing out and in, and the river behind us flowing, calmly oblivious to this oscillating phenomenon. This place has a strange way of attracting you, making you go there again and again.
There are many beautiful villages just outside the resort. From a distance, they look like green and brown specks - a part of the fairyland. We decided to have a look at the village. The muddy path leading to the village and reaching to each…Read More
There are many beautiful villages just outside the resort. From a distance, they look like green and brown specks - a part of the fairyland. We decided to have a look at the village. The muddy path leading to the village and reaching to each and every house has clay mixed with cow dung. This makes the path unaffected by the heavy rains. The houses had brick walls and thatched or tin roofs. Each house had a tank in front of it. I was told that if one cannot afford it, then a group of households share a common tank. The tank (called ‘pukur’ in Bangla) is mainly used to rear fish. Its water, of course, is used for all other activities. A potful of small fish (costing Rs. 90=00) has to purchased and carefully put into the tank. After that, one need not worry about their supply of fish for about a year. We saw one person using a long stick and frightening the fish. He told me that this is a regular feature – the fish get frightened and keep on swimming, and this keeps them muscular and healthy. One person told me that once the fish grow, he likes to put in a baby shark, which has a habit of pinching. This also keeps the fish active. The baby shark is removed after some days.
The soil here seemed to be very fertile. The vegetables seemed to be glowing. The houses were a flurry of activities from 4am onwards. In some places, the womenfolk would be boiling and steaming the freshly cut rice with the right amount of water. This rice would then be spread and taken to the mill for removal of the skin. Some ladies would be busy cleaning the fish/prawns or dressing the chicken or ducks. Some would be simultaneously feeding the ones whose ‘day’ had not come yet. For the amount of milk-based sweets consumed here, there was a surprisingly low number of cows. I was expecting 6-foot-tall cows like at Haryana and Punjab, but that was not the case, at least in this village.