The Tranquil Brahmaputra
The Visit to Mymensingh, 17 September 2005
It was an instant decision. Saadi and I were thinking about a suitable place to visit while we were at Andalib’s on Friday night. We were looking for a place where we could go and come back within one day. A 2-hour journey would be nicely within acceptable limit. Saadi was right on his toes. But Andalib was citing his work. Shameem had office on Saturday. So, we were the only two travelling. Mymensingh Agricultural University seemed a good place to visit. It was final then. Two of us, off to Mymensingh the first thing tomorrow.
We set our starting time at 9:00 AM from Mohakhali Bus Station. I knew Saadi; so, I called him before going out. As a matter of rule, I reached Mohakhali before him. We boarded a Rashik Transport bus at around 9:50 AM. These CNG buses look good and their seats are comfortable. It took more than half an hour for us to cross Tongi bridge. Once we reached the highway, it became clear that the bus didn’t have the acceleration for inter-city travelling. And it wasn’t too long either for us to find that the bus driver was literally playing with the lives of the passengers. We sat right behind the driver; so, I was virtually freaking out. Either the bus driver was terrible or the bus had terrible handling or both. Hell, this Chinese CNG vehicle accelerates very slowly; I don’t know what would’ve happened if the bus was as quick as any other long distance bus. Rashik was trying hard to justify their travelling cost: Taka 90 per person. They stopped at some place and brought in some soft drinks.
The bus finally dropped us near Mymensingh town, from where we were supposed to get rickshaws for Agricultural University at a lower cost. We were within the compounds of the University in no time. Nice compound it looked, neat and clean and well planned. We went straight to the canteen, which just jumped on us. It was lunchtime and we were damn hungry. None of us had breakfast. We freshened up and had a nice lunch for us two within Taka 38. But the canteen didn’t have any soft drinks. They said that its available just outside the campus at Jabbar’s Moor, 10 minutes’ rickshaw journey. The scorching sun prevented us from searching for a cold bottle. We went out of the canteen through the back door and found a nice garden. Took some photographs of a nice building. And there was a nice mosque. Saadi had a religious idea and I didn’t have any objection to it.
Once I entered the mosque, I was startled. It was a very nice feeling. The big single dome looked fantastic from the inside. There was some sort of fabric covering the whole base of the dome, through which the fans were hanging. But make no mistake this single dome and the nice spacious interior was really eye-catching. I had the instant idea of taking a snap. I waited until the end of Johr prayers to get permission from someone to take the snap. Unfortunately the only person I could talk to didn’t appreciate the idea of taking a photograph. Nevertheless, the calm weather inside the mosque left us sitting and lying on the cool mosaic floor and Saadi used his newly-bought Siemens camera mobile to take some snaps. None took notice of that.
We set off at around 2:15 PM to see the campus. Took a rickshaw and told the guy to take us on a sight-seeing tour. Went past all the student halls; took photographs and praised the planned campus. We stopped right before the Shilpacharya Jainul Abedin Auditorium. The nice building and the Liberation War sculpture in front had some worth taking photographs. There were a couple more monuments right behind the Auditorium. I took some photographs of this whole area.
We were off again and found some fruits that reminded us of our childhood memories. We took two and had those until we reached the Brahmaputra. Paid the rickshaw puller Taka 40 and jumped into a boat. When we said that we would go up to the bridge, which was quite far, he took a small sail in his boat. It was around 3:15 PM when we started our boat journey through the tranquil Brahmaputra. The waters were very calm. The Kashphul on the banks looked like decorations on a peaceful blanket. Saadi held the big umbrella overhead. And fortunately I brought my bag. An umbrella has just become a part of my everyday travel now-a-days. With two umbrellas, we could sit at our leisure. The sun was really burning and the nice bottle of soft drinks that we bought from Jabbar’s Moor provided us with a nice relief. We proceeded slowly along the banks. Watching the fishermen with their little fishhooks, we became curious. Saadi shouted at some fishermen asking about their success. The boatman shared some of his experiences with us. Fishes are no longer found in plenty that was used to be the case some years back. He hasn’t seen a lot of floodwater except in 1988 and last year. The villages on these banks were spared during the ’98 deluge.
We took some photographs of the river, the banks, Kashban and the clouds before we reached the railroad bridge. The old bridge didn’t seen a single train for more than 2 hours that we took during our tour. Not a busy railroad I guess. We could hear a lot of sound of trains honking, but they were all heading for Dhaka from the right bank, never crossing the bridge. This low traffic allowed some people to walk the bridge at a pretty leisurely pace. Some were sitting on the bridge pillars and fishing, a minimum of 40-50 ft up there. We didn’t feel the urge to go up to Shambhuganj Road Bridge. It was simply too far. So, we had to limit our interest in the old bridge. Took a few photographs and wondered at the red-bricked bridge.
The boatman said that he could take us to the left bank where we would find tea with real cow milk. Frankly speaking, the day was just too hot for a hot cup of tea. We were sweating. We found a lot of other boats roaming in the river. The boatman said that this was a usual sight everyday. Most of these were students of the University. They were all in couples. Some were spending their intimate times behind a strategically placed umbrella. Some went even farther—right behind the forbidden Kashban.
When we finally finished our cruise at 5:30 PM, it was already more than 2-hours’ journey. We gave the boatman Taka 120 for which he was not at all happy. But we decided to walk off. I wasn’t happy leaving the guy unhappy. A few more bucks could’ve made him happy. We took another rickshaw to the Maskanda bus stand. It was time for Magrib when we reached the bus stand. There was a mosque nearby and there was no reason for us to skip the prayers. We took some food from a restaurant nearby and went straight to the bus stand.
This time it was a Hino bus and we could count on fast getaway. The bus was fast, but it did stop at many places to pick and drop people. We started at around 7:00 PM and couldn’t reach Banani before 9:30 PM. But at Taka 60 per head, we couldn’t ask for a lot more. It was a sleepy, but comfortable journey.