Monday, December 26, 2011

A Date with Fossils

December 18, 2011

7:30 AM

Today is Sunday. A winter morning and there is no sun. I and my husband started from Anpara for Fossil Park. Our car driver is Dinesh and he enjoys driving. Most people here do not know anything about fossil park . Their facial expression seems like “Fossil what?? What is this??” We came to know about the fossil park in Sonbhadra from the official web site of Sonbhadra district ( It took us quite a few days to locate the park. Finally I searched it through google map. The map shows us a boundary of fossil park. But there was no clear road to reach there. Then I located the area name Salkhan. We asked Dinesh take us to Salkhan first.

Click for full view of the Map. This is a screenshot of what Google Map shows. Below you can see the Chopal Pul, and at the top, you can see Robertsganj. Fossil Park is between the two, away from the Highway.

8:00 AM
The car is passing Rihand dam. From the bridge that mega structure of the dam is not visible. All that we could see was a white screen of mist and fog. Fog is growing denser. Outside the car temperature is 5-6 degree Celsius. Inside the car Abhijit is sleeping. After all past few days he was sleeping 3 or 4 hours a day less due to his office work load and more due to Face Book addiction. (That’s my own opinion ofcourse).

9:30 AM
We stop for a cup of tea in front of Dalla Cement Factory. Fog is still covering the surroundings. Life is hardly visible on the road. Only a few motor vehicles could be identified when they were very near, otherwise even the headlights were not visible beyond 5 meters.

10:00 AM

We crossed the Chopan pul (a bridge over river Son). The fog is clearing up and faint rays of the Sun is shinning. The nearest boundary of the park is about 10 km further towards Robertsganj from Chopan bridge and the google map did not show the road to park from the state highway. So we started asking people about the park. Some looked at the sky in thoughtful manner; some honestly told that they never heard about such park. At last at a paan shop a man gave us some direction. He offered his services to take us to the crossing from where we had to leave the state highway and turn left for the park. We readily agreed. He showed us the crossing and gave further directions. This person’s name is Shri Seet nath and he is a local farmer.

On Left: The farmer who showed us the way. 

A board with descriptions of Fossil Park
10:30 AM
We enter in the park. Fossil park is situated in District Sonbhadra in U.P. INDIA. India has such a precious asset that hardly people know about this. I also did not know about this spot, but when I came to Anpara and tried to find out the interesting places around this area only then I came to know about this fossil park. This is a wonder full experience. The park is full of stromatolite colony . Some trees or other vegetation in fossil form are spread all over the park area.

Fossils are preserved remains or traces of animals, plants or other organism from remote past. The study of fossils across geological time, how they were formed and evolutionary relationship between taxa (other living things) are some of the most important functions of the science of paleontology. Fossils are formed when a living organism buried and preserved under the rock or between the sedimentary layers.

Stromatolites are most intriguing fossils that are our singular visual portal into deep time on earth, the emergence of life and the eventual evolving of the beautiful life form from cambrian to modern time. In broad term stromatolite are fossil evidence of Prokaryotic life that remain today. These are very first DNA on this earth. When the earth atmosphere was cover with CO2 that time these stromatolite releasing O2. These micro-organisms were building community. The oldest colony was dating back 3.5 to 4 billion years old. The scientists explain that stromatolite are formed in the sea bed. When the tectonic plate of Australia and India divided these stromatolites came up and as time passed it became fossiled.


Fossilized tree

Fossilized tree


Fossilized tree trunk

Stromatolite Bed

The big question is why they are in Vindhyachal range???? Lots of other vegetations are also found there in fossilized form. If anyone knows about this subject then please do tell me.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Timeless Varanasi

One winter morning I was standing on the upper most steps at Dashashawmedh Ghat. This is a famous ghat on the Ganges River in Varanasi. The mild winter sun was very pleasant. The temple bells were ringing. Down below men and women were busy unloading the boats full of fresh flower and vegetables. The picture has remained totally unchanged for thousands of years. Since ages, fresh flowers and vegetables have been brought in boats and are taken to the temples and markets. I felt great pride in the fact that I belong to one of the oldest civilizations, in the world.

I looked at my wrist watch. It was 8:15 AM. I didn’t have much time for romancing with the time machine. I am here for shopping fish and vegetables. I must return home by 9:15 as the school bus for my children will come and my Mother in law will be waiting for her breakfast. So I finished my shopping and started walking out of the market place. Suddenly I noticed that a man was picking up shinning light green colored gourd (lauki) from a basket and putting it on a trolley. I stopped with my bags and asked him “Lauki kaise diya?” [What is the cost of the gourd?] Without raising his head, the man said, “This is not a gourd, these are brinjals.” “Brinjal? The size and color don’t match to that of a brinjal.” I said with amazement. Another man was sitting on a stool near the trolley. He said, “Didi, these are Ramnagar brinjals.” Ramnagar is situated on the other bank of the Ganges. Most of the flowers and vegetables come from Ramnagar. The answer of this man did not seem to be very logical. I said, “Why Ramnagar? If I sow the seed of this particular species in my kitchen garden, the plant will yield similar size brinjals or may be bigger. After all it is its genetics.” He smiled and said, “No it will not happen. It will grow upto this size in Ramnagar only. Lots of foreigners have taken seeds and saplings of these plants, but did not get desired result. Even you cannot grow such brinjals on Varanasi soil.” I was surprised as I had never seen so big a brinjal and that too of light green color in my life. I picked one in my hand and asked “How much?” The man said “20 Rupees a kilo.” I gave him the brinjal and said, “I want this one.” He weighed it and said, “50 Rupees.” I was shocked. “Why?” I asked. He said, “The weight is two and a half kilo. At the rate of 20 Rupees a kilo it is so.” I took two such brinjals and asked him again, “How come it only grows in Ramnagar. I just can’t believe it.” The man on the stool said, “I will tell you Didi.” Then he put some tobacco leaves and lime (CaCO3)on his left palm and started rubbing with the thumb of his right hand and started the story of Ramnagar brinjal.

“Long long ago, Lord Shiva came down to this place – the land between two rivers Varuna and Assi. River Ganga was flowing from north to south, but when She learnt that Lord Shiva was here, She took a U-turn and started flowing from south to north. Maa Annapurna was following Her husband Shiva, but She was a little late as Ganga had already changed her course. So she landed on the other bank of Ganga i.e. Ramnagar. The farmers were planting the brinjal saplings and Goddesses feet touched the soil. When Maa Annapurna’s feet enriched the soil of that area, how could the brinjals remain as ordinary brinjals? And the result is this - in front of you.”

I paid for the brinjals and returned home. I sent one brinjal to Hardwar to my dearest friend ‘Kabli’ with someone. Next day Kabli called me and said “Mini why did you send a gourd (louki) as you know there is no scarcity in Hardwar.” I said “But that is not a gourd that is a brinjal”. She said “Brinjal!!! I don’t belief this.”I said “This is your marriage anniversary gift from us. Do you know why this brinjal is so big?” She said “Of course it is a special genus and species.” I replied, “May be, but the story is - Long long ago Lord Shiva came…” and I went on to repeat the story that that man had told me. Once I had finished talking she said, “Amazing! Thank you for the gift and the story”.

So you know Varanasi is unchanged since time immemorial - not even the thought process has changed.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Wrong Estimates

In Anpara, the quarter where I am staying with my husband, is fully furnished. There is a kitchen with all necessary equipments except a gas or electric stove to cook food. So I asked my husband if a stove or heater could be arranged, then I could cook because the mess food is not good for us at this age.
So next morning a man came home with a coiled heater and placed it in the kitchen. I smiled. He hung his head and folded his hands and said “Please madam I could not arrange for a hot plate so I am setting a heater here. As soon as I am able to lay my hands on a hot plate, I will replace it.” I said nothing.
Looking at the heater, I remembered my first kitchen at Haridwar. In Abhijit’s E.T. Hostel quarter, he showed me a room and said “This is your kitchen”. There were lots of things already there - a coiled heater, some crockery, beer mugs, empty beer bottles, motorcycle tires & tube, empty tin, pile of news papers, hammer & tools, etc.

I cleaned up the room. I threw out the things which I thought (at that age) were not needed. The coiled heater was the only source of heat to cook food in the kitchen. I love to drink tea. Before marriage I drank cups and cups of tea, but never made a single cup myself. Now I had to make tea. In the morning, after Abhijit left for office, I placed a pan filled with water and milk on the heater. I thought that it would take too much time to boil so I went off for a nap again. Meanwhile, the milk boiled, swelled and overflowed on the heater coil and the heater went off. After Abhijit returned from office, he repaired the heater and only then was I able to drink tea.
Those days we (I and Abhijit) were eating "Chand’s"  tiffin career  food. I will tell you the story of this man in particular some other time. Right now I can tell you that he was the only food provider for the big bunch of bachelors and I was also added to his client list.

Ten to twelve days passed. I felt that I must start cooking. I didn't know the A B C of this subject, yet I felt that I had to start. In the mean time Abhijit arranged a kerosene stove because he was fed up with every day complaint of the coiled heater and cooking gas connection was not easily available those days.
Now I had two major things in my kitchen - a stove and utensils.  Next I needed groceries, so my husband asked me to make a list. I spend the whole day in making the list and whatever I knew or could remember I wrote in that list. In the evening I gave the list to Abhijit. It was too long a list. He asked me “What is this?”  I got an impression that he was not familiar with these things. His ignorance caused my  confidence to grow out of proportions. I said “Groceries list.”  He gave back the list to me and said, “Write down the amount or quantity of the each item.” I asked him “In which unit?” He said “In kilogram because in India we follow the metric system”. I wrote the amount of each item in kilogram. He went out with a large size of canvas bag. When he returned he had three large bags with him.
He placed all the bags in the kitchen. I was happy and immediately started emptying the bags. One bag contained only bay-leaves (tej-patta) and the second bag was also half full with bay leaves. I was confused that what I will do with large volume of bay leaves. The third bag was full of rest of the things of my list.  At that moment Chand came with tiffin boxes in kitchen and was surprised. He exclaimed “Too much bay leaves”. He giggled and went off. I did not understand anything but felt that something was tremendously wrong. I asked my husband “Why did you purchase this volume of bay leaves?”  He said “I purchased whatever you wrote in the list”. I saw the list. I had written: Tej Patta (Bay leaves) -  1.5 kg.

News spread in the township that Mini has purchased 1.5 kg. bay leaves.  Abhijit’s friends gave him sympathy that his future was going to be so pain full with this dumb wife. Ladies laughed and cracked jokes. Days passed and this incident became a tale. Very often my friends talk about my first groceries shopping and have a hearty laugh. This incident has almost become a legend. My Haridwar friends who attended my son’s marriage, narrated this story to the newlyweds (my son and daughter in law). 
The phone started ringing. It was my son is calling. I said “Hello beta….” He said “Good morning Maa….what are you doing?”  I said “Cooking and remembering the good old days.”  He asked “Now you have a kitchen in Anpara?”  I said “Yes… with a coiled heater and new utensils.” He said “And 3kg. bay leaves ……” and laughed. I said “No, I will not repeat my mistakes…”.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Painkiller Funda

The day was 1st of May and it was my husband’s birthday. Birthday wishes started pouring early in the morning from his friends and colleagues in the form of SMS and phone calls. At around 8’O clock, I was sipping my morning tea when the phone rang. It was Anindo-da his college friend. He gave his heart full wishes to Abhijit . They talked for over 15 minutes. I requested my husband  give me the phone as I wanted to talk to Sumita (Anindo da’s wife). He gave me the phone. Sumita is a sweet and intelligent lady about my age. She is one of those persons with whom I'm impressed “How are you and how is your family doing?” I asked her. She said “My family is fine by God’s grace and now I am alright as well." “NOW?” I asked. The word hit my brain it means she had something wrong in past. I asked her “What was wrong with you.?”

The she told me everything in detail that happened the day before yesterday. After dinner she had a bad tooth ache. It was already 10 pm. At this hour of the evening (actually night) she would not find a doctor for medical help. So she had to endure the pain. It was very difficult to sleep with the pain. She spent about one and half hour but neither there was even an ounce of relief nor could she sleep. Anindo-da was fast asleep. She got up from her bed and then sat down with her computer searching for an easy household remedy for tooth ache or some kind of pain relief. After a good search on internet she found a remedy.

The remedy was  - “If you have a tooth ache then rinse your mouth two or three times by whiskey.”

She came back to her bedroom and started searching for a bottle of whiskey in her husband’s almirah. Luck was on her side as she found a bottle. As I know them personally I knew Sumita never drank and Anindo-da does not drink on a regular basis, but he does indulge occasionally with his close friends. So Sumita took the bottle and came to the kitchen. She poured a good amount of whiskey in a glass then she took a mouth full of whiskey then she rinsed her mouth thoroughly and spit it in the sink. Mean while Anindo-da woke up and came to the kitchen. When Sumita was spitting he was shocked. He screamed, “What the hell are you doing??? Do you know this is one of the costliest whiskey and you are spitting it in the kitchen outlet?” Sumita was confused. After a mouth wash she was feeling good. This time she took another mouth full whiskey and rinsed her mouth. But this time instead of spitting out, she swallowed the whole amount. This time she felt better. She repeated this until the glass was finished. In her own language she told me “Entire kitchen was rotating ……I did not know what happened after that.” I asked her “How about your pain?” Sumita laughed and replied “What pain?? Yesterday I was suffering in headache but today I am perfectly alright.” I said “Sumita you truly valued your money."

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Who am I?

Recently my husband got transferred from Varanasi to Anpara. I didn;t know anything about that place  - where is was or how small or big that place was etc. After a good deal of research with different atlases, road maps, and search engines, I found it near Madhya Pradesh border in South U.P.

One fine morning I came to Anpara with him. We arrived at the guest house and he went off for his work place.  I spent the whole day lethargically as I nothing to do. My mobile was discharged, so I couldn't even chat with my children or call up my friends in Varanasi or Haridwar. In the evening I put my sandal on and took a stroll outside. In front of the guest house there is a huge play ground. I couldn’t see a single child there - not even men or women. After about half a kilometer of walking I came across a hedge. Some kind of unknown sound drew my attention. I stopped there and tried to find out the source of the weird sound. “khachar pachar..oink..g..rrr.” I saw two groups of living being were fighting. There were five puppies and eight piglets. The pups & piglets were chasing each other’s group and a mock fighting was going on for their territory. I stopped there and was enjoying the fight. The mothers of two groups were unconcerned. Mother of the pups was scratching it-self by its hind leg and other group’s mother was searching food by pushing its nose in the dirt. After some time I returned to guest house. Abhijit came back and he offered me his mobile phone and said that my friend wanted to talk to me. I picked up phone. From the other side Dr. Mrs. Dutta was speaking. Dr. Mrs. S.Dutta alias Mimi is one of our very good friends. We were started talking. First she congratulated me for Abhijit’s promotion and said that now I can live like a queen. When I switched off the phone I realized that 20 minutes had past. The word ‘queen’ hit my brain. I asked myself “ Who am I ?”

When I was in class 6th, someone asked me my mother’s name. You can find it hard to imagine, but I didn't know it back then. Throughout my childhood I was taught “My father’s name is Mr. A. K. Mukherjee” but  told me my mother's name. That day I asked my father and then I came to know Mrs. Prativa Mukherjee is my mother. Even in our high-school days there was no column for mother’s name.
After my marriage I came to my in law’s home, and immediately my identity was changed. Now I was "Banerjee saahab ki bahu" (Banerjee’s daughter in law). Then days passed and after a gap of time my identity changed again. Whenever my husband introduced me to any of his friend’s wife I directly asked her first name. I called them by their name instead of their husband’s surname. As time passed, my identity changed from Mrs. Banerjee to "Paku ki mummy" ( Paku’s mother). Then "Piku ki mummy" (Piku’s mother). Then "Pinky ki mummy" ( Pinky’s mother, Pinki is the name of my pet dog).

In my in law’s house, when we came back after 16 years, the people in the colony give me another identity and that was "26 number walli bhabiji" (lady of house no. 26th). So who am I ? Abhijit is a senior officer in a big organisation. He is an eligible man. He has worked hard to reach this post. I did nothing, but as his wife, I am enjoying the fruits of his success.

I am nothing without my loved ones. After all they all are part of my personality. But above all the identities, a little girl is still inside me. She never grows, she never falls sick, she never cries and she is simple and fearless... but never a queen!!! Never in my life.