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Himalaya

Day 124: Chandpur to Mongla

Michael Palin - HimalayaThe river is low and the root systems of the mangrove trees run along the banks like exposed wiring. A slew of fresh-cut logs is floating up against the shore and a man, balancing on one of them, dips his hand in the water and cleans his teeth with his finger.

The timeless rural peace is shattered by the warning sound of the ship's horn, which reverberates around this quiet little place like the roar of a bull elephant. After ten minutes or so, the gangplanks are raised, provoking the usual last-minute rush, as people leap out of the bushes and race aboard.

Our kitchen staff have secured a sackful of green coconuts, which they split open for us, and we drink the sweet but cool milk as we pull out onto the stream again.

A few minutes later, a modern concrete bridge materializes, silently, shockingly, out of the mist, then slips away behind us and we're back into the past again. Spreading rain trees, rubber trees and date palms cluster tight along the bank. A white-robed figure strides dramatically among them. Deep-hulled, tall-prowed boats, like Chinese sampans, bob up and down in our wake. I watch an immensely distinguished-looking man with a bushy, grey beard carefully prepare his fishing net. He tosses it into the water and slowly pulls it in and examines it. There is nothing there but mud. With infinite patience, he gathers the line, tosses it out and draws it in again. Nothing.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 124: Chandpur to Mongla
  • Country/sea: Bangladesh
  • Place: Jahlokati
  • Book page no: 281

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