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

Monday, February 23, 2015

The India Journals, Ch. 22, Too Low, Too High, and Somewhere in Between


Ch. 22, Too Low, Too High, and Somewhere in Between

I will lay my bones by the Ganges that India might know there is one who cares.
—Alexander Duff in Passage to the Unreached

Today is our last  full day on the Ganga River.   It’s a "sleep late, pack at leisure, enjoy the scenery" day.  And I am.  The drapes are fully open, the sliding glass doors pushed to their farthest extent. 

The sun is making a gung-ho effort to burn through the haze.  

I tried the Wi-Fi and got the usual result, which is why I was out of touch the first week of my trip.

I’m standing beside my bed, rolling up clothes prior to tucking them into the suitcase.   ♫Rolling, rolling, rolling on the river.♫

Suddenly, the boat lurches and comes to an abrupt, but gentle stop.   I land on my hands amid the rolls of clothing.  One glass door slides to the closed position while the other bounces against the frame in the open position.  I realize immediately that the boat has run aground.  

Judging from the soft stop, I guess it’s a sand bar.   I walk to the French balcony and see a man on the country boat checking things out and signaling to the bridge.

The country boat checks things out after the RV Ganges Voyager runs aground.

The props are reversed and the boat backs off its comfy resting spot.   Just another day on the Ganga.   Someone should tell the sand harvesters about this spot.   They won’t have to dig so deep.

Sand harvesters near Kolkata.   A basket is attached to the end of the pole and the men scoop up sand from the river bottom.

Sand harvesters.  Stacked sand bags are in the center of the boat.

At 2 o’clock, with the RV Ganges Voyager now off the sand bar and anchored in the middle of the river, we board the country boat for a ride to our final shore excursion.   We unload and are now in the former French Colonial city of Chandannagar.  

It’s a pretty city.   Lots of trees and shrubbery line the Strand, which is more than a half mile long and 23 feet wide.  Chandannnagar got its start as a French trading post in 1673, with permission of the ruling Nawab of Bengal.   A decade later, it was a permanent French settlement, and became the main center for European trade in Bengal.

Schoolgirls on the Strand.

Those interminable British/French wars have much to do Chandannagar’s history, during which Kolkata, only 22 miles downriver, supplanted Chandannagar as the leading mercantile center.  India gained its independence from Britain in 1947 and a year later, a vast majority of Chandannager’s population voted to become part of India, and thus it is today.

Our visit to this city began, of course, on the Strand.

Another group of friendly schoolgirls on the esplanade.   We shot back!

These guys were acting soooo cool until I aimed my camera at them.

This is called Vivekananda Mandir, a place of meditation of the Strand.

A short walk later, we cross the busy street and run into a bevy of golgappe carts.  After many questions during this trip, now Asif finds the perfect place to explain this snack especially loved by Indian women.

Peeling potatoes.

Filled with mashed potato and chickpeas, the golgappe is dipped quickly into tamarind flavored water.

The finished product.

A short distance up the street, we come to the Sacred Heart Church of Chandannagar, a fine example of French architecture.  

Then it’s up a side street to a school.   Many of the students have been dismissed for the day and parents are waiting to take them home.   I notice one boy being offered some food by a woman presumably his mother, and I realize that this is the first chubby child I have seen so far.  (He is not pictured here.)  

Remembering the girls on the Strand, all with cameras and/or cell phones, I think this city is on an economic level higher than the villages I have see thus far.

Sign in school.

Part of the school.

The other end of the school.

All the boys wanted to shake hands.

Our visit to the school complete, we reverse course and head back to the Strand and the boat.

YOU! GO!! GIRL!!!    First woman on a motor scooter I've seen.   I saw several but they were going too fast to photograph.

Nut vendor.

These girls called to us from across the street.  The middle girl spoke perfect, unaccented English.   She said she goes to the English school.


When we get back to the RV Ganges Voyager, I notice we remain anchored.  When I ask why, I’m told the river is too high for us to get under the bridge and we have to wait for the tide to go out.   

Enjoying the Strand on the way back.

This is a school bus.

This dog had found something edible, and was looking for more before a man chased her off.   I was pleased to see the Strand relatively clear of litter.

The country boat with the RV Ganges Voyager in the river.

A spectator.

The RV Ganges Voyager.

This boat seemed to shadow us the entire voyage.   Then I learned that it was indeed shadowing us.   It was hired to accompany the maiden voyage of the RV Ganges Voyager "just in case."   It also had a larger, fancier, country boat with it.  A crew-in-training on our boat was housed on this boat.

First we run aground and now the river’s too high.   Ah, Ganga.

Not a problem.   We wait, pass beneath the bridge and we’re in Kolkata by dinner time.   We will spend the night on the boat, have our bags out at 5:30 A.M. (not sooner for safety reasons), and leave the ship after an early breakfast.   We have a plane to catch and that requires getting through the incredible traffic of Kolkata first.


  1. The young girl spectator who was watching all of you get back on the country boat was also in a picture watching you get off the country boat initially. Perhaps she felt she needed to "watch the boat while you were gone"! Good suggestion that they harvest sand from the spot where your big boat ran aground! A bit sad to see this part of your trip coming to an end, but look forward to what comes next. Patti and Cap

  2. What a marvelous Post. The church could be the one in Pondicherry. Maybe the same design. India Oh India .. NOW YOU are .. to some degree .. An Old India Hand. In this relatively small part of India you sure are seeing a lot that is very typical of the country. Laugh out loud the boat runs aground on a sand bar. Who is in charge here? No one. Much Joy from Anchorage and from Hong Kong .. Patti and Cap ..

  3. Ahhh...to be so adventurous as you, Gully. By golly, I get to be adventurous just by being an acquaintance. How cool is that!!!

    Truly, I feel blessed. And then there's Cap in Hong Kong. Wonders never cease!!! Your posts and Caps are dissimilar and yet both are enjoyable in their unique presentations.

  4. Photos of the school kids especially wonderful.