One of those drafts that I didn't post in time !
Travelling down NH6 on my way to Midnapur last week I was struck by the absolute beauty of the rain washed countryside on either side of the highway . The edges of the roads on either side were fringed by kaash flowers - long white fringed stalks moving in the breeze.
The leaves of the slender trunked sal trees set back a little from the road , were a light jewelled green and the paddy fields where unravaged by the flood waters were jewelled green squabs reaching far away into the distance .
The skies were a clear washed blue with huge cumulonimbus clouds - tier upon tier in great frothy piles .
The Kangsabati river, its waters muddy with earth surged around the pillars of the bridge and as the sun set over the Rupnarayan , it gilded the skies and the remaining clouds .
The house we visited in the heart of Midnapur city , in the middle of the marketplace , was ancient , its brickwork exposed in places . Like all old houses , there was a temple in the garden, its walls and the two steps leading to it ,damp and mossy .
The house had steep narrow stairs ,and as we sat down to eat on the terrace , enclosed by the customary shamiana , the locals gathered around and stared at us , the children in their festive finery of acid pink and neon green ,popular in rural areas, giggled as we were given a teaspoon each to spoon up our rice. The caterer not to be outdone by his Kolkata counterparts had concocted a menu quite out of keeping with the surroundings where a typical Bengali menu would have fitted the bill perfectly .
Consequently , the food was awful - gingery chholey , kochuris, again a very gingery potoler dolma ,chhanar dalna, tasting like spicy baby puke and chutney instead of the typical Bangla food that I was looking forward to . Maybe some moong dal with deep fried julienned potatoes , fried aubergine roundels or begun bhaja ,a fiery alur dom, dhokaar dalna and so on and so forth. There were plenty of sweets though .
Anyway , the drive from Kolkata to Midnapur , quite made up for it although I had to skip dinner owing to the ingestion of bad cholesterol , though not in excess .
Jibananda Das was quite justified in writing Rupasi Bangla .