When the jeep stopped in front of the estate, It was 8:30 am. I was feeling rickety all over, and I guess so were the others. I felt like puking right there. For the first 10 secs, I swear I couldnt stand straight. It had been one hell of a roller coaster ride of my life that I won’t want to repeat, and I’m so not cribbing. I’d grown up in a village with no electricity, no cemented roads, no cars and no cell phones for almost 20 years of my life, so I’d rather prided myself in believing that a jeep ride in jungle, with mud trails wont be a big deal for me. But my oh my, wat a road! I could distinctly make out each and every 206 bones of my body being rattled up and down through that 7 km of raw torture. On top of that, in a wanton moment, I’d told doyel I would be shooting the road.So there was I, holding the videocam with one hand and trying to keep my waist straight with the other. It was one hell of a posture to be sitting at the back of a jeep with damaged shockers (or whatever you call those things that keeps a car ride smooth and bump-free), at an angle of 90 degree to the road, trying to save the schmucking handycam with my two hands and the luggage, that was kept on the opposite seat, from falling off with my two bare legs. By the time we reached the last stretch (of almost 2km, which the driver Manju said was “THE WORSE” part) my bones felt as if they would come apart, unscrewed.
I didn’t even care to look at Makkhi or Doyel or listen to their bawlings as I got down. Just needed to fag to digest the last 40 mins of my life, so as soon as Rakesh came up and greeted us, I asked him whether he could serve some ginger tea, that quintessential Indian liquor for a non-alcoholic like me. Found out, I needn’t have asked him at all, since breakfast was already served in anticipation of our arrival. He led us to our rooms, which were cottages constructed out of a cement base with tented roofs and doors.The rooms were quite spacious, clean fresh smelling towels on the bed, a sofa, 2 grandfather’s chairs, a coffee table, 2 battery-operated torches and an ashtray made out of bamboo butts! Cute!
As soon as we finished our inspection, Rakesh led us to the other tent which had a broader verandah where the table was already laid. We all, especially Doyel, were completely taken aback by what followed next. Omelettes, garlic breads, parathas, pindi chola, fried rice and my favourite luchi, bengali style. And oh! yes, kesari bhaat (sujir halwa) for dessert. Whoever serves dessert in breakfast? But it was a feast fit for the king, the food was awesome, the tea was actually ginger flavoured (and not because I asked them so) and the hospitality…. there’s really no match for it. Doyel was the happiest of all, she had already got her money’s worth… and more!!