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    Friday, January 2, 2009

    Tora, Manikganj, December 2008

    The Land of Golden Smiles
    Tora, Manikganj, Bangladesh

    25 December 2008

    Christmas Day! A holiday. There we go again. My heart pounded and started to look for an opportunity to explore the land. My health didn't really give me full support; yet, my mind wanted to break free. I was thinking of exploring the golden mustard fields. They were in full season, as far as I knew from the news. This year there had been a bumper output of mustard. I was planning to visit the mustard fields earlier in the month. But the plans didn't succeed. May be that was good luck too! As I heard that the mustards were planted a bit late this season because of some untimely rainfall. That probably meant that going to those fields before the fields were in full colours. Last year Christmas Day, some of my photographer friends went to a place in Manikganj and captured gold! I now planned to get something like that. Manikganj was the target, because thats one of the nearest locations to Dhaka where you could get the rural feel.

    I called some of my photographer friends if they were interested to accompany me. Didn't really want a very big group. A big group has its pros and cons. The nature of the travel called for something like a less-than-ten-people group. And thats what we ultimately got. There were eight of us. My Flickr buddies Monir, Tahmid, Kamrul, Tipu Bhai, Rumi Bhai, Apu were joined by me and my brother-in-law Riad.

    There we go! We planned to start from Gabtoli Bus Stand by around 8:00AM. We started from our homes with that timing in mind. Bummer! We got the shock of our lives when we were greeted by a very thick blanket of fog the moment we stepped out of our homes. It didn't abate when we all reached Gabtoli. We spent some time gossiping; hoping for the conditions to get better. The weather didn't really listen to our prayers though. We were thinking of having a disappointing winter trip in a very foggy low light condition. We were almost certain to miss the golden fields in that blanket. But we proceeded. We had a quick breakfast at a not-really-five-star street-side restaurant and boarded the bus to Paturia. It was around 9:25AM.

    The typical local-bus-style journey took us beyond Manikganj town. We asked the bus driver for a suitable location before we boarded the bus. He suggested Tora under Ghior Upazila, a place just beyond a bridge across the Kaliganga River. The place was a bit unknown to me, as I never stopped there. Monir had a lot of memories with that place and he supported the idea of stopping at that place.

    From Tora, Manikganj, December 2008

    A face in a frame........


    From Tora, Manikganj, December 2008

    Destinations...........


    From Tora, Manikganj, December 2008

    Working through the maze........


    From Tora, Manikganj, December 2008

    South side of Tora Bridge, River Kaliganga.........


    From Tora, Manikganj, December 2008

    On his own........


    From Tora, Manikganj, December 2008

    Of lines and angles......


    From Tora, Manikganj, December 2008

    Resting on the meadows.......


    From Tora, Manikganj, December 2008

    This is the land of "red and green"..........

    We had the ultimate joy while on the bus-- the sun showed up! The cloak of mist cleared up just in time and were happy like anything. At last God listened to us! And we could well see the golden mustard fields. They were in full bloom at some places, while not really finding their colours yet in other places. In just less than two-and-a-half hours' time, we were at Tora. We dropped off just beyond the bridge at the bazar. We had a nice cup of tea, prepared with original bovine milk and went for the bridge. The bridge had some brilliant views. The scenery from there was unforgettable. This is the dry season and the river had just enough water to force people to wet their feet if they wanted to cross it. Green paddy fields ranged across the huge islands that formed across the whole of the rider-bed. The eastern bank of the river had nothing but sand. There were a lot of activities around that bank as trucks were collecting sand from the riverbed. They provided a contrast to the beautiful colours of the rice fields.


    From Tora, Manikganj, December 2008

    A dot on the canvas........01


    From Tora, Manikganj, December 2008

    A dot on the canvas........02


    From Tora, Manikganj, December 2008

    Of paddy fields and boats.......


    From Tora, Manikganj, December 2008

    Patterns of the land.........


    On the norther side, the river had just enough water to allow some small canoes over it. Farmers working in the paddy fields were, in fact, crossing the small stretches of water on foot. The south side of the bridge probably had more water. There were quite a few boats and the water at least looked deep enough for them.

    It sure looked like one of God's own creations. The scenic beauty was not enough to describe in words. The patterns of the land looked like the work of the most accomplished painter! In one word, it was captivating. No photograph would be enough to describe its true beauty. It was more fun watching than clicking. Yet we clicked and clicked until we realised that we actually came here to capture gold!

    From Tora, Manikganj, December 2008

    Run, run, run...........01


    From Tora, Manikganj, December 2008

    Golden smiles.........01


    From Tora, Manikganj, December 2008

    Golden smiles.........02


    From Tora, Manikganj, December 2008

    Golden smiles.........03


    From Tora, Manikganj, December 2008

    Taking care of the gold........


    From Tora, Manikganj, December 2008

    A smile from the heavens........


    From Tora, Manikganj, December 2008

    Walking the path.........


    From Tora, Manikganj, December 2008

    A game of cricket............


    From Tora, Manikganj, December 2008

    Run, run, run..........02


    From Tora, Manikganj, December 2008

    Run, run, run..........03


    From Tora, Manikganj, December 2008

    Run, run, run..........04


    From Tora, Manikganj, December 2008

    Run, run, run..........05


    We boarded some rickshaws that proceeded west until we were blinded by the golden fields on our right. It was around 12:15PM. We could hardly keep the joy within ourselves. This was paradise!! The mild winter sun was touching the mustard plants with utmost care and they were glowing in the best way they could. It was blinding yellow! There were children around the mustard fields, who provided us with the best subjects we could dream of. Their smiles stole our hearts and made us blind. I could go back to Dhaka from there without any regret. My journey was complete. Anything else that would come my way thereafter, would be bonus. We stayed there for around one-and-a-half hours and had a great time with the children. The children were also excited to see some alien people pointing cameras at them. They smiled back and enjoyed the whole thing. They were more than happy to feature in our machines. We also found some boys playing cricket just beside the mustard fields. We enjoyed their game too!

    By around 1:45PM we were feeling it inside our stomach. We boarded a three-wheeler to reach Tora Bazar where we had landed. We had our lunch at a shabby-looking restaurant, which was not too different from the most common restaurants I could find during my tours to different corners of Bangladesh. We were hungry and needless to say, enjoyed the meal.

    From Tora, Manikganj, December 2008

    Angle of hope.........


    From Tora, Manikganj, December 2008

    Angle of aspiration........


    Our next session started right after lunch. By around 2:45PM, we were again on the bank of the Kaliganga, right under the Tora Bridge. Now we were having a close look at the landscape that we were enjoying from way above. Right beside the big man-made sand dunes, some lone fishermen were angling just with threads; they didn't even have a stick! We didn't spend enough time there to judge their luck though.

    From Tora, Manikganj, December 2008

    Marks of Nature........


    From Tora, Manikganj, December 2008

    When the boats would no longer be needed.........


    From Tora, Manikganj, December 2008

    Green and white.......


    From Tora, Manikganj, December 2008

    Dreamscape..........


    From Tora, Manikganj, December 2008

    The Kaliganga sleeping..........


    From Tora, Manikganj, December 2008

    Under the slopes of aspiration.......... Mr. Alamgir trades in sand that is collected from the riverbed...... his appearance may be a bit misleading, but his purpose isn't...........


    We had a short walk for an hour around the northern side of the bridge. White Egrets were decorating the green landscape with their group flights. Kingfishers and other birds were looking for food among the calm shallow waters. The whole show was ruined somewhat by the constant movement of trucks carrying sand on the eastern bank. The afternoon sun was now shining on the pillars of the bridge, highlighting the high water-marks on the exposed pillars. Those marks declared the variance of mood that the river shows to the inhabitants of this place. The broken coasts supported that story with yet more evidence of Nature's destructive force. A casual look at the river now would mislead anyone not having any idea about the aggressive nature of the rivers of this land during the rainy season.

    From Tora, Manikganj, December 2008

    Evolution of wheels.........


    From Tora, Manikganj, December 2008

    Of faces and directions..........


    From Tora, Manikganj, December 2008

    On the highway of information.......


    We broke off from the river by around 3:45PM and headed for Tora Bazar, where we were supposed to find a bus for Dhaka. It wasn't really a smooth operation finding a transport, as most buses didn't want to go all the way to Dhaka. Anyway, we finally managed to get a transport by around 4:45PM. Winter days don't really last that long. The light was already fading. Our journey ended by around 6:30PM without anything more dramatic.

    Though it was a short one-day trip, it was more than just a nice trip on a holiday. The Christmas Day of 2008 would remain in memory for the wonderful smiles I saw in the fields of gold.

    5 comments:

    1. sharif bhai..could see all your pics...but as usual a complete guide ....later will see all the pics...:) NET slow :(

      ReplyDelete
    2. Sharif vai, ur travelogue is as usual excellent. Love those photos. I m looking for a chance to visit Tora as u hv turned that simple place to a travel-worthy one.

      ReplyDelete
    3. আমিও এই ভ্রমণে ছিলাম; কিন্তু তার পরেও মনে হচ্ছে এই ভাবে দেখা হয়নি।
      জটিল বর্ননা এবং দুর্দান্ত সব ছবি ... ...

      ReplyDelete
    4. Mohammad Arifur Rahman MitulNovember 16, 2009 at 4:26 PM

      Awesome work Sharif vi.

      ReplyDelete