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.
It was Republic Day weekend thus tourists had thronged to
the tourist town of Udaipur. We were confident in finding a car that
will take us to Kumbhalgarh next morning so did not bother to book the
car in advance. We had reached Udaipur at around 11 at night and Udaipur was
freezing at around 5 degree Celsius thus we dared not to venture out at night.
Even though we got up early in the morning a quick stroll around the town
revealed that all cars were booked and no travel agent could get us a car for a
day trip to Kumbhalgarh Fort. Due to the distance auto would not dare to
Our next best option was to hire a two-wheeler and since I have done regular long drives on my Royal Enfield Thunderbird, thus riding constantly for long hours would not be a problem for me. In Udaipur, you can get two types of bikes on rent one would be the Royal Enfield, which would be around Rs. 1200 to Rs. 1400, and Scooty, which you can get around Rs. 400 to Rs. 500 depending on the season.
I was around six or seven do not remember the age but what I do remember was my birthday celebration that year. Many of my cousins had come and it was a gift galore. I was not much of a reader of books instead loved people reading my books and that particular year one of my grandfather (uncle to my father) who was a teacher gifted me a small hardbound book. I still remember the book cover it was light blue in color with a photograph of a puppet wearing a red outfit and what stood out was that the puppet had a long nose. It was Pinocchio that was gifted to me that year and it was my grandmother who read out the story to me.
Being the naughty child that I was my grandmother reminded me that I would have a similar fate if I kept lying about my various mischievous activities. I kept skipping through the pages to read the paragraph where Pinocchio’s nose starts growing longer as he keeps lying.