by Gowri Mohanakrishnan
It was a day of bridges.
We decided yesterday that it was time we went to see the Bogibeel bridge. It is almost two weeks since the bridge was thrown open to the public, and we didn't want to miss out on a Sunday drive across the Brahmaputra.
After crossing the Bogibeel we drove on to Pasighat in Arunachal Pradesh. And we discovered a little corner of the Dooars right there, so close to home. The Dooars! In three words, hills, rivers and forests.
To be honest, it was more like the Dooars of the eighties than the present day, since there was no dust, not much traffic and definitely fewer people.
|Just another Sunday at the Pasighat bridge over the Siang River, Arunachal Pradesh|
The heat was quite intense, surprisingly, and it was a very clear day, which meant we could see many snow covered mountain ranges against the sky. A lot like Nagrakata in the Dooars.
|Pristine - the colours were beautiful on this sunny Sunday at the Pasighat bridge over the Siang|
In the Dooars, we purchased oranges by the pound (eighty oranges ) for many years. We'd pay a pittance for these freshly plucked oranges that came from Bhutan or Darjeeling near one or the other of the 'duars' or gateways into the hills: Totopara when we lived in Dalgaon district, Bagrakot when we were in the Western Dooars, and Chamurchi in the Binaguri (central Dooars ) area. Around the mid nineties, the orange sellers in Chamurchi went commercial. The oranges were now sold to exporters, and found their way into Bangladesh. We had to go to our fruitwala in Binaguri bazar and buy oranges that came from Nagpur, when we lived so close to the orange growing region of Bhutan! And did we complain!!
When we lived in the Eastern Dooars,we were very close to Phuentsholing, Bhutan, and we would take a drive up the hill to the international border check post. From there we could see the Torsa valley spread out below us, and the Rajabhatkawa forest in the distance. On our way down, we'd find groups of young women selling oranges. They were used to tourists who came in droves, and my husband would have to bargain hard with them in the local lingo. The ladies always smiled and gave in!
These ladies were beautiful; always well dressed and well groomed, with shiny hair, eye make-up and lipstick. Lipstick seems to be part of the dress code for women in the hills of North East India. When I go up there with my lips uncoloured, I feel almost indecent.
|An interesting rock at the place where people stopped their cars to view the bridge|
Our driver mumbled a question at one of the ladies who held up three fingers in reply and pointed uphill. He told us he'd asked where the ‘Hanging Bridge’ was, and said she had indicated three kilometres. This driver is quite a traveller in his own right, and he’d heard some friends of his talk about the Hanging Bridge. The orange seller could well have meant three hours, or even three days, I ventured out loud.
'Fine, off to Lhasa then!' said my husband, who loves being in the hills more than I do!
Three kilometres in the hills takes more time than it does in the plains, but we reached a 'spot' or 'spote' as it's called in the Dooars, very soon. We saw several parked cars, and people looking down the hillside into a deep gorge. And there, deep down, we saw it - the Hanging Bridge, a rope and bamboo structure, and there were people crossing it!
I said a silent thanks to my watch. I'd had my fill for the day, and there were the oranges to look forward to on our ride back.
Meet The Writer/Editor: Gowri Mohanakrishnan
I was teaching English at Indraprashta College in Delhi when I met and married my tea planter husband in 1986. He brought me to the tea gardens - a completely different world from the one I knew! Life in tea continues to be unique, and I began writing about ours many years ago.
Early in 2018, I started Indian Chai Stories to collect and preserve other people's stories from tea.
The first chai stories I ever wrote were for a magazine called 'Reach Out' which Joyshri Lobo started in the mid eighties for the Dooars planters. Some years later, Shalini Mehra started 'The Camellia' and I started writing there regularly. Shalini put me in touch with David Air, the editor of Koi-Hai, who gave me a page there. If you 'hover' over each name and you can go to the link/page.
My family has always believed that I can write, and that is what keeps me going, whether I agree with them or not.
Here is the link to all the stories I have written here at Indian Chai Stories - https://teastorytellers.blogspot.com/search/label/Gowri%20Mohanakrishnan
Is this your first visit here? Welcome to Indian Chai Stories!
If you've ever visited a tea garden or lived in one, or if you have a good friend who did, you would have heard some absolutely improbable stories! You will meet many storytellers here at Indian Chai Stories, and they are almost all from the world of tea gardens: planters, memsaabs, baby and baba log. Each of our contributors has a really good story to tell - don't lose any time before you start reading them!
Do you have a chai story of your own to share? Send it to me here, please : firstname.lastname@example.org
My name is Gowri Mohanakrishnan and I'm a tea planter's wife. I started this blog because one of the things that I wouldn't want us to lose in a fast changing world is the tea story - a story always told with great seriousness, no matter how funny - always true( always ), maybe a tall tale, long, or short, impossible, scary, funny or exciting but never dull. The blog is updated every two to three days. You will find yourself transported to another world!
Happy reading! Cheers to the spirit of Indian Tea!