As evening draws nigh

The day began late. The "hangover", if that is the word, from last night lingered on. The only way to overcome it would be to go out.

We drove our way to Prinsep Ghat, to the banks of the Hoogly river flowing under the towering bridge, the Vidyasagar Setu. It was a dull evening. Grey skies, grey rails, which made for a grey river and a grey bridge too. The railway station seemed quiet. And the train just stood there for ever. To a photographic eye, or even to the generally observant, it is a fine place to be. Unhurried traveling, that is how I like it. It is never about how much. When we reached the river-side, it was lined with old wooden boats meant to take you for joyrides along the river. The boatmen had a single oar and that was all.

It was the laziest ride on still waters. S and I did enjoy it a lot. As the evening set in, little fishing boats were gently returning home, the large bridge overhead gradually lit up, there was even this lit up steamer that was taking a large group for a ride along the waters. Rabindrasangeet, Tagore's songs were playing and the atmosphere was quite wonderful. One can't really put a price tag upon these things. The boatman was polite, though he asked for a little bit more money since it's the Pujas now. We had forgotten S's camera bag on the boat before we left and he did manage to search us out and return it after a while. I will surely remember that. Acts of kindness when there are no strings attached are to be valued.

After dark, these boats sat huddled together by the bank, weighing in their catch, and lit by kerosene lanterns, began cooking their evening meal. There seemed to be a kind of cohesiveness to this group of boatmen. A watery people.

The night was about more Pandal hopping (there can never be enough of it, I suppose), cotton candy and yummy street food at midnight. After living in a fast-paced and far too materialistic environment for a while, doing the same things we did as children, as tradition would dictate it, is like a breath of fresh air. One looks at things in the old way again. Gives the mind a bit of free rein. The crowds were almost unrealistic. Even into the early hours of the morning, streets were choc-a-bloc full!

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