27th of October 1996 was supposed to be an exiting day
when India and Australia meet head to head for a one day
international Ciricket tournamet in Cuttack (Odisha). The Cricket match
was supposed to take place at Barabati Stadium but the non stop rain had
played a spoil sport and the match was called off without a single ball being
bowled. During the mid 90’s Cricket in India was it its hights and any Cricket
tournament featuring India would bring the entire nation to a stand still.
Since T20 had not yet been started thus the number of Cricket matched featuing
team India were limited and very popular.
All these years I kept thinking Barabati was some peorson in whose name the stadium had been named. Coming back to present times when I was touring Cuttack as a part of Odisha Cultural and Heritage Tour organised by Times Passion Trails in association with Odisha Tourism I was surprised when the driver informed us that after visiting the Maritime Museum we were going next to Barabati. For a moment I was thinking why on earth are we being taken to a Cricket stadium? I assumed that they must have recently renivated the stadium and wanted us to see it.
In the year 2002 I was still in college and during that time, I had the wonderful opportunity to visit Koraput in Odisha. I was a part of a five-day student exchange program where I had a fantastic opportunity to meet other college students from Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal. During one of the field trip, we were taken to a tribal village and this one was not the typical tribal villages of Jharkhand but a village that belonged to the ‘Bonda Tribe’. To be specific we were visiting a specific branch of the tribe known as ‘Upper Bonda Tribe’ who lives in complete isolation from the rest of the nation.
We were given specific instructions regarding how we should interact, what we should and should not photograph and last but not the least not to give them any plastic bottles. There was even a government minder to oversee our field trip. I was allowed to click two photographs and till date, people wonder in disbelief if that was indeed a village in India or somewhere in Africa. Their dress, bead jewelry, and their food habits were very different from the rest of the region.
Bengalis are proud of two common things, Netaji and Rosogolla and there is an ongoing debate as to who these two belong to originally. Both people of Bengal and Odisha claim it to be theirs. Well, me being a true blood Bengali won’t participate in that debate as I will be biased by default.
My fascination with World War II is not something unknown to many, I have done many types of research regarding the bombings of Calcutta during WWII and something which always came into the picture was INA and Netaji. I got so intrigued that I traveled all the way to Myanmar (Mandalay & Yangon) to know more about this period of history.
Have you heard of the “Viking of British India”? If
not don’t feel bad neither did I until at least a week back. Some referred to
him as the “King of Jobra”, someone who after living in India for more
than forty years started calling India as his home yet could not even speak or
understand any Indian languages.
George H Faulkner was an engineer by profession and a native of Manchester. He had learned his trade in one of the many engineering workshops that once thronged Lancashire. He had come to India around 1833 when he was just twenty years old and as per records after initial service in Madras (Chennai) where he had worked in the Irrigation Company which has formed for the purpose of irrigation canal construction on Godavari River which was then part of the Madras presidency. This company also had contracts for further canal construction on Mahanadi thus George H Faulkner had shifted to a small locality in Cuttack known as Jobra.
For quite some time during my childhood, we used to live in Bangalore (Bengaluru) and that means regular train travel since air travel was simply out of the question. One of the highlights of the train travel was when the train traveled right next to Chilka Lake. We as a family did quite a few trips to Puri but somehow always skipped a trip to Chilka. Forever I wanted to see the Dolphins and of course the charm of a long boat ride.
Every time the train would pass Chilka Lake I would peep outside the window trying to get a good look at it. Since only a small portion of the lake can be visible from the moving train thus the beautiful scenery would just zoom past. I would wish that someday I would get the opportunity to see the lake for real.
The first vacation that a Bengali family usually takes would be either a trip to Puri or to Darjeeling. For my family, it started with a planned trip to Darjeeling in the mid-1980’s. All the bags were packed and I was super excited especially to see Tiger Hills which I thought was a hill full of tigers back then at an age eight nothing could be more exciting. We reach the station to board our train only to find out that all trains to the hills were canceled due to recent agitation by some political parties.
Not to disappoint us my father made an impromptu trip Puri as an alternative. I still have some faintest memories like the beach, the railway station where a couple was fighting (the wife not happy with the choice of train seat) and the sweet meat selling vendors. Not to forget the sumptuous lunch cooked by my mom which included chicken, mutton and of course tons of fish. Yes, back then most families cooked their own food while staying at one of the several holiday homes. This was also a trip where my grandmother was also with us which I believe was the only time she had accompanied us during a vacation.