28th September 2009. Sunderbans- the beautiful forests and beautiful it is. Especially at 5 am in the morning. We got up to catch the sun's rays and the water turned silver before our very eyes. Seeing things like this can change life perspective.
Ready by 6 am to go catch the second watch tower (Sajnekhali) which was a garish white and green - I mean if the watch tower needs to blend into the landscape, what is the point of painting it in such stark colours that every eye - human and animal can see for miles around!
Caught a deer and that was it - my only sight of jungle life around there. On our way back, we asked the boatman how deep the water was and he said no one had ever measured! However his anchor went down a hundred feet deep atleast. It gives you a very precarious feeling - sitting in a launch with twenty other people and the still waters around you - anything could topple it over and its not like we had life jackets or anything...
Then started the four hour ride to Netidopani - mangroves and water nonstop around us. Slept for a bit and got up in time to see the approach to Netidopani. This place was scary - lonely as hell and pure jungle. It had started raining by the time we began the trudge to the watch tower.
We walked upto the watch tower - twenty laughing and talking loudly people and expected to see a tiger which of course didn't happen! We joked hell of a lot about the tiger sighting but alas it was not to be. We did see a noticeboard which spoke of tiger sightings - two-three atleast had been sighted as late as 4 days ago and when we got there not even one! We kind of expected it if thought about it for a little bit.
People started drifting away eventually leaving about four - five of us hanging around. An eerie silence descended on us. We listened to the sounds of the forest. I realised how utterly lonely and desolate this place is - I didn't envy the Forest Guard on duty there at all. I felt like going back to civilization immediately.
Which we did after four hours of traversing through endless mangroves and swathes of water.
Another two hour bus journey and the smell of garbage told us we were in Kolkata. Dinner happened after a two hour wait at 'Peter Cat' - one of the oldest restaurants in Kolkata. I had 'Chello Kebab' - their signature dish. Mutton seekh kebab, chicken kebab, an egg and buttered rice - makes me salivate thinking about it now! I was too hungry to even take a photo of the food, attacking it almost immediately.
Got home with the idea to explore Kolkata tomorrow..