Bengalis are very fond of making fun and festivals. They want to enjoy life and therefore they have made for themselves so many festivals so that they get chance to have fun and enjoy. The Poila Boisakh, the advent of the new Bengali year, also called the Nababarsho, is the great scope for Bengalis to eat, to enjoy and mix with friends and relatives. This is a chance to wear new dresses and eat several palatable dishes.

We are also Bengalis. During our student life and even after that we had a very good group of friends. Often members of the group were very jovial, very jestful and very energetic as I ruminate those days.

Once, two days before starting the Nababarsho, we were making adda in our place that was a small eating place which was the place of our gathering. As we chatted, just then one of the friends Lattu said, ‘Let us celebrate this Nababarsho’.

Everybody became very cheerful and started discussing and planning how to celebrate this Nababarsho. One of our friends was Amit. His brother-in-law was a government contractor and at that time he was making a road from Ranchi to McCluskieganj. Amit suggested us that some months ago he went to his brother-in-law’s place of work. I found 2.5 kms away from the road within the deep forest, a Forest Inspection Bungalow. It was a very beautiful and very remote place. ‘You all go there and enjoy. But I will not be able to go because I have to go other place with my family,’ said Amit.

Immediately we asked the route and how to go there and he gave a very detailed description of the bungalow he had seen. We finalized the plan and said we must go there. We decided who will take whose two-wheeler and eight of us got ready to go, including myself. Amit told us that we have to carry the food raw materials but you will get very good desi chicken and eggs. We made a plan to spend three days starting from Nababarsho.

One of our ‘leader’ friends, Kunal, decided who will purchase rice, atta etc. I told him I cannot purchase anything but I will take my two-wheeler. Five motor bikes and scooters were to be taken. In four, one will ride and another friend will sit behind and in one scooter raw materials will be carried. Next day we all became engaged in the duties allocated by Kunal and I gave my scooter for servicing. Our mind was full of joy by thinking that we will enjoy our Nababarsho trip in that place, in a very nice forest bungalow within the dense forest.

On the last day of Chaitro, at 9 o’clock we met to decide in a place where we had decided to meet with each other. One of our friends was Ranjan. He was very jovial and started to sing Rabindra Sangeet very loudly in a heavy voice without any musical sense. Kalyan loaded the raw materials on his scooter and we started from our place of meeting.

Nababarsho jharkhand forest

We started with very high interest and ran a in a high speed. We all were very happy. After going some kilometers we got a roadside dhaba. We took some snacks and tea and again started. Some of us were in a hurry because if we delay in the road our time of enjoyment in the beautiful forest bungalow will be less.

Ultimately we saw the road mark which we had been told by Amit and we tried to find out some local people so that they can guide us to the forest bungalow. But it was difficult to find out anyone, the place was very lonely. Finally we got an adivasi man who was coming on foot.

Nababarsho jharkhand forest

We asked him for the direction to go to the beautiful forest bungalow. The man very candidly told us that 3 km inside the jungle the government was making a forest bungalow but he has not seen whether it has been fully completed or not. We ignored him as Amit had told it was very nicely furnished and he also told us the forest bungalow has got a very good caretaker who can cook very tasty food.  By ignoring him we turned right and entered on the narrow path through the jungle.

Nababarsho jharkhand forest

After going about 3.5 km this way we found a half-done house. There were some brick worked walls but we started doubting if this is the bungalow or not. Somebody remarked this cannot be as this was not the forest bungalow Amit had said to us. We had a very good impression of the bungalow in our mind. By that time two villagers were coming through the path. We asked them where the nice forest bungalow is. They simply said this is the only construction which the government made and yet not completed.We asked there must be any other bungalow. They said within 50 km there is no other bungalow.

Finally we entered into that half-done house, we all were very much tired. Even we were not in a position to stand. We all entered the room of the house and found that the floor of the bungalow was also not made. The room was full of sun rays because it had no roof. Most of our friends wanted to start abusing Amit. One of them proclaimed in a high voice that he will kill him after he returns. Anyway we sat on the undone floor but Ranjan was still at that time energetic and started singing Rabindra Sangeet in a high voice again.

We all told Kunal to call the caretaker of this nice bungalow as we had to eat and we were very hungry. Kunal went away and called the caretaker in a very loud voice which started echoing in the forest.

Nababarsho jharkhand forest

In the meantime Kalyan unloaded his scooter, took all the raw materials along with 12 bottles of beer, some rice, oil etc. All of a sudden Kalyan entered and said ‘I am fully exhausted, I have to gain some energy’. By saying that, he lifted a bottle of beer and poured into his mouth and then vomited it out. Ultimately Kunal said that the bottle is not of beer but it is full of kerosene. Before pouring it down didn’t it smell of kerosene? Kalyan said he was so exhausted he didn’t even smell it. By saying so, he lied down on the undone floor and started abusing Amit in a very high voice.

After one hour, the caretaker arrived. It was a great moment for us as we all were hungry. We just told him to bring a cock and cook it. I must say one thing that before when Amit was giving a description of the place he said there are ample hens and eggs. So we told the caretaker to bring a big cock and cook for us. The caretaker told us ‘Yeh toh pakarna hoga’ (Have to catch it). We asked him from where? He calmly said- from the village. Then we asked where the village is. He said it’s not very far off just 4.5 km away. Suddenly Ranjan shouted ‘Go and pakar ke lao’ (go and catch it).

The caretaker went but he didn’t return in another two hours. Kunal and Putku said let us go and see where he had gone and where to get the cock. They started toward the direction where the caretaker went.

When they returned from their mouth what we heard is this. After taking much trouble they arrived at the village and found the caretaker was sitting under a tree with another person. They went to the caretaker and asked him where the cock is. He very simply said we were trying for a long time running behind the cocks but could not catch any cock or hen and he became tired. They then asked him whether the village has eggs in their stock. That was about 4.45 pm and we had started at 9 am in the morning and till 4.45 we ate nothing beer on empty stomach. Ultimately Kunal and Putku came back and said that it is very difficult to get any chicken or egg, ‘We also ran after the hens but failed’.

Nababarsho jharkhand forest

After 30 minutes the caretaker arrived and said he will light the oven with the jungle woods and make some chapattis or rice and anything with potato. After about 20 minutes we found that he was just sitting. I asked what happened why you have not started cooking. He told how to light the oven, we have wood and kerosene but we do not have any matchsticks. Ashok said that he has a lighter why did he not ask. He started searching his lighter but couldn’t find it and then he remembered that he got it out at the roadside dhaba and put on the table and probably forgot to take it.

We were extremely hungry and told the caretaker to go to the village and get a matchbox. I gave him Rs.20 as a tip for bringing the matchbox. He went to bring the matchbox but till today he has not returned.

We were waiting for him up to 6.30 pm but could not bear our hunger. Ultimately I revolted. I just shouted it is too much and so I am taking my scooter and going back home. Immediately all stood up and shouted ‘Yes! We also will go back’. All started their scooter, everybody sat, and left that nice forest bungalow leaving back the rice, oil and potatoes.

We arrived at our house at 12.30 in the night making my parents, brother and sister very much astonished. First of all I told my mother to get some food. After eating tasty food cooked by mother, I went to my bed and that was an ever memorable Nababarsho for us.

Image credits: Shirsendu Sengupta, redscarab, awayfromfourmarks.blogspot.com, sansad.org, Travel Themes,GroupOuting

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Pradeep Ghose is a lawyer by profession. He is also a septuagenarian and an adventurer by heart. An avid traveller since school days, loves a good adda and has lots of interesting stories to tell.