I landed at Dibrugarh and food was the first thing on my mind. It was 2.00 pm, I was in no mood to travel ahead without food. I would board a ferry along with the car and cross over the Brahmaputra River at Bogibeel. I was eventually going to Pasighat in Arunachal Pradesh. The ferry crossing over the mighty Brahmaputra at Bogibeel could wait, food came first.
I ask the young driver where I could grab a quick lunch, adding, I am a vegetarian. He stopped at Sunfeast Inn not more than 10 minutes away from the Dibrugarh Airport. I look at the menu and ask for Assamese Thali! At least it would be different. I am the kind of person who can only tell you whether the food was good or not. Anything more is beyond my capacity. And I have to say the Thali was damn good, all vegetarian too. I paid 100 rupees for the meal, which was what I paid for a pre-mix tea on the flight! My stomach full, I was happy to continue with the journey.
It started raining on the way. We crossed tea gardens and paddy fields. The driver was new to me, so I resisted the temptation to ask him to stop every few seconds because I wanted to click pictures. The road was decent for a while but soon it turned into what roads are in India, full of potholes. There was actually no road at stretches, only potholes.
When we arrived at the banks of the Brahmaputra, I was forced to stay inside, it was raining that hard. The driver went out to figure which ferry we were boarding along with the car! It was still raining hard when we got on to the ferry. The driver asked me if I would like to get out of the car. I was out within a second. I ran to a cabin for shelter for it was till raining.
As the rain lessened and I came out on the deck. I stood quietly soaking in the rain, the mighty river, the tiny ferry with a car on it. The city life and its strife were already fading into nothingness. I knew I would sleep well later in the night, something I had not done for the past few days!
There was just one more passenger beside me. We started the small talk. His name is N. Singh, he did not elaborate any further. When I told him I was going to Pasighat he was surprised. He asked why and where was my family. That takes some explaining and I was in no mood to do any explaning. He is from Bihar but has lived in North East for 22 years! I ask him why the bridge is broken, he told me it was not broken, it was not yet complete.
And then I noticed it, there is a rainbow in the sky, actually a double rainbow! I ran to the car to get out the camera. The car was locked! However the driver noticed me and opened the car.
I forgot conversation, for I tried hard to make the rainbow look good in the pictures too! I hardly came anywhere near it. I take the rainbow as good omen for the trip! I so wanted the whole car with the rainbow but if I took one step more I would fall in the river!
Soon, much too quickly for my liking, I was on the other side of the Brahmaputra at Bogibeel. I was still in Assam. But Mingkeng Osik from Arunachal Pradesh greeted me warmly. I realized I was in safe hands. They told me Pasighat was still 3 hours away. It would be night when we reach! I was not bothered.
Mr. N. Singh also joined us in the car, he would get down at the 7 km mark! When we reached the spot, his office staff was there to welcome Mingkeng and me with the traditional scarf! All this when we just met on the ferry boat! There are no star hotels at Pasighat but I already met so many star people in a short span of time, right at the beginning of the journey.
I took the ferry again on my return journey. It was early in the morning. There was mist all around. Once again, much too quickly for my liking I found myself at the other side of Bogibeel! Even though I knew what to expect this time, the crossing was as magical as the first time!
And this is how cars get on the ferry!
— Mridula Dwivedi (@mridulablog) September 12, 2016
PS. I was invited by Nuyee Talong from Arunachal Pradesh Tourism to attend Solung Festival.
Last week I did a one night trip to Pragpur in Himachal Pradesh which was on invitation from WelcomeHeritage Judge’s Court. And it was not them who wanted me to stay there for one night. The time constraint was from my side, a fact which I am already regretting. We went sightseeing around Pragpur on both the days, the day I arrived and the next day when we left. It was a hot day when we arrived. While visiting the temples at Chanaur and Dadasiba out cab driver and owner Mr Atul pointed out the Beas river to us as well. Along with Pragpur and Garli both Chanaur and Dadasiba are a delight for people interested in heritage, architecture and paintings. But that is a story for another day. This story is about the giant pipal tree near Dadasiba.
After the temple visits Atul stopped at a crossing and asked a villager how could we go closer to the river. He pointed out a narrow road, and there we were, close to the Beas river. The giant Pipal tree was an added bonus for me. I was willing to look at the hot sky only through its cool shade!
Try as I might, I could not capture the whole tree in one frame. It had a small chabutra (platform) around it. I too decided to sit in its shade while Pooja (from WelcomeHeritage) decided to take a walk up to the river. Everyone removed their footwear before going on the chabutra and I did the same. One of the menfolks asked me if we were locals? When I said no, he said hardly anyone else comes to this place. They came because it was a hot day and it was cooler under the tree close to the river.
I too would have walked by the river but the sun was way too hot. Also at that time of the day I did not see what would I gain photography wise by going close to the river. But in the end it was the sun that the magnificent tree that made me stay put.
Guess what? I was very tempted to write ‘sun rays were playing with the pipal leaves’. But was it the sun rays that were playing or was it I who was playing with my camera with aperture set at f22 so that I could capture this effect! I may have said it at least three times before in this short post by now, but let me say it once more, I was quite awestruck with this majestic pipal tree.
The kids were certainly curious about my camera but they were too shy to ask me anything about it. It was only when their elders talked to me that they timidly asked if I would take a picture of them! I was ever happy to oblige!
For this lazy Sunday I present the magnificent Wat Arun Temple from Bangkok, Thailand. It is a Buddhist Temple said to be build in 17th century, though the spires are said to be added by King Rama II in early 19th century. Wat actually means temple both in Thailand and Cambodia. Both Thai and Cambodian temples have dress codes. They basically want you to cover your shoulders and knee while entering a place of worship. I thought it was an easy dress code to follow. They are not equally strict at all the temples but they are quite particular about the dress code at Wat Arun.
Wat Arun, Bangkok, Thailand
We approached it by the ferry. Chao Phraya river flows through Bangkok and adds so much to the charm of the city. If you take a local ferry from Tha Thien pier it will cost you three baht to reach the temple. The tourist boat would be much more expensive.
The temple has steep steps, but once you climb them you can see a beautiful view of Bangkok City. I found going up the stairs easier than coming down. But they did not pose any real trouble to me. I saw others who had their eyes shut and were being escorted down by their friends on those stairs.
A small number of vendors are present immediately around the Wat Arun temple. I had the most delicious coconut water ever next to this temple. They put the shell in ice so it is even more delicious.
When I visited the temple was not too crowded. I was there in September 2013 and on a week day. If you are interested in photography Wat Arun catches the best light at dawn. Arun actually means sunrise. So that is the best time to photograph at the place. Alas I could not manage to do so on this trip.
I stumbled upon two very pleasant countryside walks in Oxford. I love walking. These were the kind of walks that just keep going straight, there was very little chance of getting lost. They were my kind of walks. What I wish to write about today though is them doggies.
Imagine walking serenely on a path with the Thames on one side and open fields on the other. You will meet people strolling, cycling or running from time to time. There are flowers to be clicked and admired, in that order. The weather was mild (gave me a mild sunburn later as I was not using sunscreen) and all is at peace in the world! Right? Wrong.
It was them doggies. In the countryside, people let their dogs off the leash. And that is a source of unmitigated terror to me! I am really truly completely afraid of dogs, even the tiny miny ones. So, on this walk when I faltered for the first time, predictably it was when I saw a huge dog let off the leash ( a labrador, deep down I know they are harmless). I looked to my right and asked a young lad if it would be alright to walk ahead and if the path leads somewhere? He gave his go ahead. Then he asked me something from afar and cycled around for a while but finally vanished. The dog owner could probably sense my tension and told me they were going for a dip in the river. The dog of course was running towards water without even sparing me a glance. That is the best thing he could do for me!
Then there was another man throwing a Frisbee to his dog, thankfully in the opposite direction. And of course the dog was quite interested in the game. Again I hurried past. This was the last of the doggies on the Oxford-Sandford walk. Lucky me? Not so soon.
The day after I did the Oxford Sandford walk, my original plan was to do nothing. That means walking around aimlessly around the accommodation in my lexicon. After wandering for a while I remembered a wooden gate that I gave a miss during my previous visit to Oxford. Not to make the same mistake twice (maybe not really a mistake as in October 2007 the sunset was really early around 4.00 pm and in June really late around 9.00 pm) I walked through the gate. The walk seemed promising till I encountered my nemesis.
On the narrow path there were two ladies on two high horses (literally) with their dog running ahead. Of course he was interested in me and I for sure was not. Not willing to offend anyone, I politely put my small shoulder bag in front of my legs and the intelligent dog understood my gesture. He went his way and I went mine, thanking my stars. Too soon, it turned out.
Can you see the serenity above? I was walking without a care. A few minutes later and then heard some footsteps running furiously. I turned back and my heart stopped. There was a dog taller than me (or so I thought) being chased by the dog with the ladies on the high horses! I was silently telling myself, “You had it, who the hell asked you to walk alone?” A moment later I realized the tall thing was a deer outracing the dog with an effort that clearly bored him to no end. Did I turn back? No, because as one of my professors aptly remarked that I like to “walk with a vengeance.”
Next were two really tiny miny dogs and as they bounded with glee towards me. I said in a croaking voice to their oblivious owners, “Please call them back, I am quite afraid of dogs.” Their faces contorted with surprise but they did call the dogs back. Was this the end? Did I turn back? Not quite.
I walked ahead for quite sometime and met no dogs. That gave me courage on my way back to venture into a forest like area to my left. I was desperately trying to remember the way full of mild turns. After a few turns I decided if I got lost my colleagues would have no sympathy for me. I turned back and there he was. He had a crooked front leg and a dirty color. The collar round the neck gave me some confidence, I resorted back to my shoulder bag trick but this one took offense. While he ran away, he let out blood curdling howls from a safe distance. Heart thudding in mouth, I negotiated my way. He kept barking after my shadow. After a long time he concluded that I was way too far away to do any more bag tricks.
The end of the country road was almost in sight. There were the two ladies on their high horses (literally, no pun intended) again. But these lovely ones had no doggies with them. What sweet ladies. I considered this a good omen and made a dash to safety of my room.