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

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The India Journals, Ch. 8, The Little Boat

Ch. 8, The Little Boat

Don’t worry about the world ending today; it’s already tomorrow in Australia.—Charles M. Schulz

The 6:30 wake up call Sunday morning is especially taxing this morning as I’m nowhere near caught up on sleep from four and a half days of travel to get to Kolkata.  I get out of my comfy bed reluctantly and head for the shower to wake up.

Once I’m dressed, I see daylight peeking in the drapes and look out the sliding glass doors. 

 Everything is shrouded in fog but I can see that sometime during the night the RV Ganges Voyager slipped its hawser lines at the dock and moved to the middle of the river where it anchored.   Good idea, because we were to tour Kolkata today.

First, though, breakfast.

Eggs cooked to order.   Later on, I'll go into food on board in more detail.   Today, we have lots to do.

Earlier we were divided into three groups, the Shiva (the most powerful Hindu god at the center of the universe, with four arms), the Dolphins (the Ganges “ emerged from Lord Shiva's locks and along with it came... the dolphin ... "), and the Ganesha (the Hindu deity of beginnings and success—among other things—is represented by an elephant head).  That’s what my research came up with, but those who chose the names might have other reasons.   There are, by the way, about 60 river dolphins in the Ganges River.   Anyway, each group is assigned a guide.

At 8A.M., the Shiva group is called to muster on Deck Two, then the Dolphins, and finally my group, the Ganesha with Asif as the guide.  Once on Deck Two, the real treat begins.

Below me, tied up to the RV Ganges Voyager, is what Indians call a “country boat.”  It doesn’t look river-worthy, much less sea-worthy.   Over the next seven days, I come to love this boat and at this writing, it remains a highlight of the entire trip, including the elephant ride And the rickshaws.   

It is the discovery of a humble country boat that I love about travel.

Come on, let’s board the country boat…

Decorated with potted plants.

This bamboo contraption was the boarding ramp.   Ever so much simpler and far less expensive than the fancy boarding stairs used by big cruise ships.

Note the bottom of the boarding ladder doesn't sit flat.   There were many variations with this ladder.

Before I get to the best part, I want to show you some photos taken of the country boat on different days.

The bamboo ramp in use.

Showing this one to illustrate the deck boards.

Sometimes, tying up was basic.

Now for the best part:

This simple tool was of the utmost importance to our tour's success.

This is the country boat's engine.   Note the lack of safety barriers.

That bamboo pole?    Wait for it...

Another engine view, with the bamboo pole and a hose.

Tied with a rag so the leaks don't spray the tourists.

Past my feet.....

Out through the hull....

And into the river.   I am hoping this is NOT the bilge pump but that the engine is water-cooled.

So, that special all-important tool is placed on the front of the engine and.....

Is that utterly cool or not!!!    While we're all fanning away the blue exhaust, did you notice what the bamboo pole and cord were for?    They're the throttle control!

And did you notice that the helmsman was controlling the rudder by two pieces of plumbing pipe fastened together?   Love it.

The steady hand of the helmsman holding the cord attached to the bamboo pole, attached to the throttle.

Ah, the country boat!   I hope they never get rid of it.   In this USA, we have become so liability conscious that there is a refreshing freedom in countries where it's absent.

Wherever we went, the country boat followed, fastened to the stern of the RV Ganges Voyager, along with the very practical boarding ladder and ramp.

NOTE:  The video did not appear on my Apple iPad, but did on two other devices.   The outstretched hands were for a squirt of hand sanitizer.


  1. I LOVE IT!!! I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT!!! Those Indians are SO resourceful ... they really know how to make lemonade out of lemons!!! I have fallen in love with the country boat...and with the bamboo throttle. Chuckling. Chuckling. Hugs. Patti and Cap

  2. Now we are getting down-to-it as to some of the nitty gritty of INDIA. I too just love the Country Boat. I don't think I would have figured out the function of the bamboo pole. The rope tied to the hand of the Helmsman .. You have JUST GOT TO LOVE IT. Potted plants for decor. I don't think that the hose would be part of water cooling the engine. Smiles .. Cap and Patti ..

  3. The Country Boat is wonderful and ingenious. Your comment about the USA becoming so liability-conscious is right on -- I think that's one of the reasons our grandkids wouldn't even take walks with us in the (not so deep) woods when they were youngsters. They had been convinced by popular culture that it wasn't safe and they might get hurt or (God forbid) see a spider.