Sunday, November 11, 2012


The immortal Ganges, as it crosses the border into Bangladesh, for no reason that we have yet found an explanation, becomes the Padma River.
We believe this may fall into the same category of river mobility in these great estuarine lands that, in the 1820s caused the holy Brahmaputra River to change its course, and in merging with another, local river, has become the Jamuna.
It is in Rajshahi City, however, that the Padma/Ganges becomes a popular riverside for leisure.

The residents of the city have, for years, enjoyed the pleasure of sunset on the waters of the great river that, ‘washes its walls on the southern side’, to borrow a line from the famous poem,  ‘Pied Piper of Hamelin’.
The waters may no longer be as full as once they were, and an enormous char now faces the embankment across the water, but that that doesn’t prevent the denizens of the city from continuing to socialise and take their leisure, on the banks of the great protective bund that shelters the city from the seasonal inundations from which it used to regularly suffer.

The remains, even ruins, of great riverside mansions of the British period still stand, in fading,  disappearing splendour, beside the embankment, giving a glimpse of the splendours that, perhaps, once were, but the fairly recent concrete surfaced walkway, that can take you miles along the embankment, compensates splendidly for that which once was, and, clearly, will never be again.

To wander along that path, engaging with the friendly youths, sharing the peaceful patience of those fulfilling the hunter gatherer impulses with a fishing rod, or watching the swooping and diving kites flown by young experts has to be, simply, one of the greatest experiences of human engagement that even a country, famed for the hospitality of its people, has to offer.

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