The people and the land
The first thing that struck me about the Sunderbans Islands was the casualness of the people. There was a certain charm to the way the people interacted with the land and with each other. The fisherman tossed his net into the water in no hurry. When he caught no fish , he did not worry. Women sat by their threshold cutting vegetables with the grace of someone who has all the time in the world. Here there was always time to eat a watermelon; nobody was in such a hurry that they could not stop and share a smoke or a laugh ( probably teasing us tourists!)
The person I observed the most was Mowgli, our tour guide. An outsider by origin, he is today (after seven years of continuous trips to the island) a true islander. As soon as we reached the base of the Backpackers ( the Tour group) he wrapped a lungi across his waist, threw off his shorts and his bag. I never did see his shorts again and I don’t think he did either! ” This is what I like best about this place”, he says, ” I can throw my things anywhere and I know someone will look after it”.Later he would tell me how he had booked a forty nights trip to Bangkok and returned back in a day because he missed the Islands. I took him for a fool to throw away thirty-nine nights in Bangkok. But now that I have experienced the land I stand corrected.
Everything the people need they get from the land and they give back. There is a balance in what they take and in what they give. In Mowgli’s words ” Here you are in the nature and you learn things. And I know how ever often I come here I will never stop learning”.