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.
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.