"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The India Journals, Ch. 16, The Landlady Queen and the Kids

Ch. 16, The Landlady Queen and the Kids

The Indian way of life provides the vision of the natural, real way of life. We veil ourselves with unnatural masks. On the face of India are the tender expressions which carry the mark of the Creator's hand.~~~ George Bernard Shaw

Earlier this day we visited the tomb of the last king of Bengal, then returned to the boat for breakfast.  There is a noticeable lack of diners in the dining room these days.   Many are afflicted with gastrointestinal cataclysms and are foregoing all food but white rice, tea, and toast.

Oatmeal with brown sugar and skim milk.

Melon and fruit bread.   Eating light and bland.

The boat motorsg a short distance from Khushbagh to Baranagar where 18th century temples built by Rani Bhabani are fighting the vegetation.  This is happening all over India, and it keeps the archeologists quite busy.

We travel slightly faster than the running children who race along the banks of the Ganges and shout greetings to the passengers on the large and grand river ships that seldom appear in their lives.  They wave at the passengers on the ship with enthusiasm and wide smiles light up their faces.

This photo is of a group of young men and boys. 

And these are close-ups form the same photo:

The cows don’t care a whit that we enter and leave their lives both in the day and in the night.  Neither do the goats.   They have no illusions of taking passage on such a ship.   Their transportation to the greener (or not) banks of the far shore is much more prosaic.  The ubiquitous double-ender nauka boats that transport everything from people to agricultural products also carry the animals across the river.

I watch as one of those boats glides up to a bamboo dock.   This boat is outfitted as a freighter.   A large platform built of bamboo makes a flat surface for hauling things such as cows, bicycles, and motorbikes.  The juxtaposition of those three things strikes me as a microcosm of India through the ages.

On shore, in the village of Baranagar, the brick temples, richly decorated with terra cotta tiles, are exquisite.   As the sign informs, this is considered to be some of the best examples of Bengal terra cotta art.   These temples were built on the order of Rani Bhabani, known as the landlady of Natore, who presided over a vast area during the British colonial era.   A woman ruler was most unusual in those days.   

Aboard the country boat.

Even the goats came to greet us.

Note the goat at the farthest end of its tether.

This goat was determined to lie on that particular step and no other, despite the discomfort from its tether..

An article on Wikipedia reads: what made Rani Bhabani a household name among the common people was her philanthropy and general generosity, combined with an austere personal life. The number of temples, guesthouses and roads she constructed across Bengal is believed to be in the hundreds. She also built numerous water tanks, alleviating the acute water problem of her subjects. She was also interested in the spread of education and donated generously to many educational institutes.

More close-ups at the end of this post.

Next to these temples is a structure slowly being swallowed by vines.   Artists sit before it, carefully rendering the picturesque ruins onto paper.

We walk farther along the dirt road, past humble homes and more temples.  A goat in a field next to us has just given birth and is tending to her newborn.   As we walk through the village, we see several newborn kids.

Note the dung on a stick leaning against the white wall at left.


A newborn kid.

Bhavanisvar Temple.

A little goat at the temple.

The women at right are watching to see if the goat gives birth to another kid.

We come to a school yard and are overwhelmed with excited human kids.   My companions take photos and show them to the children. 

I stand back, looking for the solitary kid, and I am rewarded when a boy who must be the class clown throws an arm around a beautiful shy boy.

Wonderful things happen when you look for the kids standing apart from the crowd.


Then it’s back to the country boat, back to the RV Ganges Voyager, and lunch.   The boat starts up and moves to our next destination, Murshidabad.   It is the third shore excursion of this day, and marks the extent of our upstream journey.

Shrimp salad, grapefruit, watermelon, and a chicken kebab wrap (almost completely eaten).

Coriander soup.   Luscious.

Saffron tapioca

Murshidabad is where the boat turns and begins its return to Kolkata, almost 300 miles down stream.


More photos of Baranagar, including close-ups of the terracotta decor on the Char Bangla Temples.

More dung on a stick

Another newborn kid

Chickens clustered for warmth.


Smoking a hookah.


  1. I appreciate that you sought out the shyer schoolboy rather than the loudest. We've been there haven't we?

    I'm glad you weren't having stomach issues as several other travelers were. Nothing interfered with the events of your trip and that's fortunate.

    I enjoyed all the kids, human and otherwise.

    1. Wasn't that boy precious? And the class clown next to him?

  2. The detail on the temples is exquisite. The whole scene is captivating...those waving to you from the river banks, the bamboo ramps for unloading people, animals, scooters, bikes, and whatever...the goat determined to stay on the step that he was homesteading, the baby goat kids and the mothers tending to them, the human kids. The human kids are enchanting with their enthusiasm. Loved another day along the Ganges, thank you! Patti and Cap

  3. gastrointestinal cataclysms .. NOW THAT .. THAT IS A TERM that I am going to have to remember!

    Amazing how you can take one photo .. then with your magic .. pick individuals out of your one photo and show them individually ..

    LOVE the ubiquitous double-ender nauka boats and their freight. So like INDIA. The Hindi writing is as challenging as the Chinese but I have studied a bit of the Hindi so can make some of it out. Their words are based upon an alphabet (of I think) 46 characters. Nice the artists and the ruins they are drawing. Tender the mother goat with her kid. Then back on the boat and a magnificent lunch.

    All over India I have seen the red figures and scenes carved into the rock. So much so that .. although absolutely amazing .. I am almost numb to them.

    Nice once again a map to show us where you are .. it gives us a real feel for your journey ..

    Smiles .. Cap in Hong Kong and Patti in Anchorage ..

  4. By the way, coriandor soup sounds delicious! Patti

    1. It was! how did you like the photo of the two boys?

  5. Oh yes, the photo of the two boys is a treasure. The baby goats, what tender moments you've captured. And stirred up a great longing in me to see such everyday lives (a wonder themselves) and the natural spectacles. And just how other humans live everywhere on the planet.