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Agartala And Back

When you sit in a small 22-seater or a 14-seater aircraft, there is always an eerie feeling. The same you experience when you sit on a helicopter, especially going by the number of crashes. So many famous people have died in these helicopter rides. I am not famous but I have my heart waiting in my mouth whenever I sit on a small plane. And now that I am back from the godforaken place of Agartala, I am oh so relieved.

Not that I have anything against this north eastern state capital of Tripura. It is so green and so laid back and seemingly safe despite being officially declared a "hyper sensitive" area because of the increase in insurgents operating in the state. My one-and-a-half day tour of the place was packed with a visit to a newly opened university and a visit to some local sight seeing addresses, including the oldest school in the north eastern region, the Umakanta Academy establshed in 1890.

But my journey from Calcutta itself was an amusing one. The team I was tied up with at Calcutta was a group of versatile five. The oldest a 54-year old gentleman, was reticent to the core. His only words to me were, "Do you speak English, sorry Bengali?" He was paired off with the elderly lady of the group and who by the end was labelled "aunty" by the rest of us. She took care of each one of us, right from packing our breakfasts to suggesting what we should do at every step. Sometimes the dictats were marred by irritation at our non-plussed attitudes to them. But aunty and reticent man got along well, because he never said no to the machinations of her mind.

That left the three of us out from her loop. We took delight in segregating ourselves from the duo. And whenever she got the chance, she took a jibe at our waywardness, tinged with a bit of prank. "Oh you are so organised," she remarked at my pen and notebook. "You must have a pen and a paper always," for those that had none. But she was quick to arrange it for the others. When the day got over and had we had a fill of touring the campus and meeting a few students, she suggested we all spend another two hours at the hostel interacting with the rest of the students. Of course, she got a vehement NO. We were looking forward to wrapping up tiresome day with a chilled glass of beer and wasn't going to let her throw a spanner on our plans. Later that evening, when we called reticent uncle to join us, he sweetly declared he was a teetotaller. Aunty said she doesnt drink at all, but an hour later called to ask if there was "some whisky". We missed a golden opportunity to see aunty let her hair down.

The next morning, aunty dressed in a starched sari and uncle in clean checked shirt, washed and looking fresh were ready to vist the famous temple in the region, the Tripureswari temple. We decided we wanted to visit the wild life santuaries instead. But she had her way again and we followed her car and drove an hour and a half to see a red temple and a pond where devotees were washing themselves, a al mini Ganga. But we managed to make her heart skip faster as we took our time to reach the temple, taking photographs on the way, yapping, laughing - the phone kept ringing to tell us that our car was out of her purview. I am sure she prayed for the atonement of our sins too.

And she even took back home the bouquets we got a day before. I had forgotten about it until I saw her walk out with it from the hotel to the airport. Back at Calcutta and heading towards the exit, "I love pulling the trolley," she said. And so, trip over, I bade them all an honourable goodbye and I am glad I am back in sada dilli.


Tumpa said…
You should have clicked a photo of uncle and aunty together and put it up here!:)

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