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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Lepchakha : The Nature's Cradle (Part 1)

The colours of the tripping season had started; and it took our steps to the beautiful hues of un-explored Himalayas. Its a general belief that the mountains will always have a different picture, in every nook and turns you take and Lepchakha was not a mistaken choice by the team of 14 strong members. Difficult to forget but again difficult to remember all the spots; hence it's better to go there by yourself and experience the beauty of nature. The beauty of Lepchakha.

We contacted a domicile resident, Mr. Ram Kumar Lama (8016671734). The unknown alleys of Lepchakha, to be reached touching the heart of Jainti, a small village within the Buxa Reserve forest, seemed quite exciting. The majority of the members were first timers in trekking, but to stay on in the flattened jungle, beside the Jainti river was an experience without recall. It was second to nothing and with the full moon shining, the pebbles of the dried up river bed shone like calcite deposits, making a trail up into the mountains, that would lead to Lepchakha, a journey that would be par an ethereal experience!

Jainti River Bed, Jainti, Buxa Tiger Reserve. (c) Somnath Paul.

Day 1 was full of journey. We reached the base camp, at Jainti. Since, it was the season of colours, it was beyond doubt we would spare it from our lives! That lead us to be at the dried river bed, where we did have some bath in the staggering water, most of which drizzled through the crevices of the pebbles galore! Post lunch, we took a trek to Pokhri Mai, a sacred rain fed lake, about 800 meters high, 4 Kms from Jainti village. The first taste of trek was good and people managed to gather strength for the next day, which we had no idea as to what it would offer us!

Travel of 4Kms to Jor Pokhri (In Lepcha term, Pokhri means Lake). (c) Somnath Paul.

The journey ended on a blunt note, when we had to stop abruptly and walk our way up!

800m Climb to Jor Pokhri. (c) Somnath Paul.

The secluded lake at Jor Pokhri, the cat fish growing in isolation  was huge, feeding upon the puffed rice (muri) and two Ma Kali idols to worship. It was a virgin trod, within the remote place of the nation, where mobile towers failed to kiss. Technical reason: its a reserve forest!

The lake at Jor Pokhri. (c) Somnath Paul.


(to be continued....)

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Project Travels: A Diary

Thanks to PhD at CSIR-IICB, I have cherished the opportunity to see Incredible India. A travel heart by birth, exhaustive field work in Assam, Bihar and West Bengal have yielded loads of tough memories with sweet tunes in between. I remember the humming tunes of "Country Roads" and its full of unparalleled experiences.
Starting from the dusty roads of Bihar and Assam plains to the lush green heritage of Bengal's Murshidabad, I have seen it all. Made friends for a day with several unknown passengers over discussions ranging from Politics to Cricket; even a few passing around the cards at 29. Project travel have shown me all. I would like to share some excerpts in this space, where I feel would be apt to exhibit that Epidemiological Survey work has its pros and cons, if considered that way.

(c) Somnath Paul. 2012. Borring in Bihar.

My travels started in 2011, November. Assam. The first going was exciting, as I had mentioned earlier. But the access through to Silchar from Guwahati was dusty like nothing before. An almost 14 hour ride through the bumpy road, after we crossed Shillong. Food was scarce and if any, were more dust than quality. But a Bengali can digest any thing, I was no exception! Drilling for soil samples at Silchar's outskirts is persuation and quarel. The quarel was not for why, but where! The places are so sparsely located that it took us to tribal areas where Bengali was not the dialect proper and we faced difficulty in communication. A house or two away, you will find a Naga or a Manipuri or a Mizo. The vibrance of the nation was pouring out but in the Sun, we too were draining without a cause but delay. 

(c) Somnath Paul. 2012. Sample Collection in Assam

Where tribe is a problem, caste system comes upfront in Bihar. Higher castes wouldn't allow any driller to drill for sample in his courtyard. He would check the caste criteria and truly speaking it burns your senses when you come across such divide, 60 years post independence and into a century where we, scientists are trying to prove a co evolution at the molecular level. Guess arsenic will not affect a Bihari differently than an Assamese! Will it?
But, the sweet tunes mostly lie enroute Guwahati to Silchar and back. The mountains; the Garo, Khasi n Jaintia ranges weaves a miracle of green and colours. After 3-4 days of hard work amidst dialect problem, it was always a welcome relief. A small note to add; it was blazing hot in Silchar, April 2012. But on our way back after work to catch train from Guwahati, passing through Shillong made us shiver. It was cloudy and mist set on, making our clothes wet. I realized the success of the name Meghalaya and thanks to Rabindranath Tagore, it was really cold at 'Chill-on', Shillong.

(c) Somnath Paul. Mr. Jayanta Das, Assam, 2011.

The name Murshidabad infuses history of Bengal in the chain of thoughts of any person concerned. But, thats for those who make leisure trips to the place. Ours was always scientific business, but to go in an arsenic infested area and if people know we are in for the work, they will treat you lord almighty. They are so simple. Starting from countryside fruits to tea and what not, they would offer anything, but with a request in local dialect: "When will we curb their arsenic problem?" It feels very bad see their conditions, affected with arsenicosis symptoms; old & young. And we offer the only answer to their dismay; we only analyze and are not implementers of policy or remediation! Still they offer a smile and replies, "abar asben". (Come Again) It touches the core of your heart.
Epidemiological work creates a good interactive spectrum within you. If you are clever, you will know how to enjoy it. This excerpt I am writting from my present travel to Assam again. I hope to gain some more into it.

Somnath Paul Photography

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The author holds all the rights to publish the contents and the specially earmarked materials. Any breach of this can lead to Indian Penal Charge, under the Act of Intellectual Property Rights, 2007.

The articles are not to be considered promotional neither detrimental of their credits. Its just opinion of a Free-lancer at Free time.

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