Advertisement
Tuesday, Nov 30, 2021
Outlook.com
My India Story

Life Flowing On The Ganga, As Seen From My Sick-Bed

A steadily accreting generosity amid the bedlam that wraps one in a lasting warmth

Life Flowing On The Ganga, As Seen From My Sick-Bed
Illustration by Sorit
Life Flowing On The Ganga, As Seen From My Sick-Bed
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

The month was September; the year 1983. There had been a mining disaster in the Jharia coalfield and Dhanbad’s hotel rooms were taken up with reporters and PR men from Coal India. Quite possibly, the Bonanza was the best hotel. I remember I shared a room with the Statesman’s Ranchi correspondent but otherwise my memory of those days is fuzzy; the time of clarity comes a few days later, when pain made the minutes stand out sharp. I remember the pithead of the Jharia mine like something out of 1920s South Wales, and a restaurant, possibly known as the best restaurant in Dhanbad, which was an outpost of something grander in Calcutta with a name like Trinca’s. On my last evening, I went to the house of a young Anglo-Indian family where the children were encouraged to call me ‘uncle’. One of the children was called Ashley. His father had wanted to call him Adolf, but there had been family opposition, and so he settled for another ‘A’, from the Leslie Howard character in Gone With The Wind. The father was uncomprehending when I laughed. Hitler had made no pejorative impact here.

Then I took the train: not a through train, but the Damodar Express, which began in Dhanbad and ended in Patna and spent the whole night toiling over 150 miles (Here Be Dacoits—lock the door). When I think of this train—its place of origin and its place of arrival—I think how intrepid I must have been, and for what? I was going to Patna to try to find the lawyer who had represented (and eventually freed) a man who had spent 30 years in jails and lunatic asylums for the crime of being found without a ticket on the Assam Mail.

Advertisement

Outlook Newsletters

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Read More from Outlook

Meet Parag Agrawal: The New Indian Origin CEO Of Twitter

Meet Parag Agrawal: The New Indian Origin CEO Of Twitter

The incoming CEO is an IIT Bombay graduate who joined Twitter a decade back after having worked at Microsoft, Yahoo and AT&T in research positions.

Omicron: WHO Warns World Should Be Wide Awake

Omicron: WHO Warns World Should Be Wide Awake

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the emergence of the highly mutated omicron variant underlines just how perilous and precarious our situation is.

Omicron Scare Looms Over IND Tour Of SA, BCCI Awaits Govt Nod

Omicron Scare Looms Over IND Tour Of SA, BCCI Awaits Govt Nod

Several sporting events have been cancelled due to the new variant of the coronavirus, Omicron. India are scheduled to tour South Africa for a full series.

How New Covid-19 Variant Is Impacting Travel Across States In India

How New Covid-19 Variant Is Impacting Travel Across States In India

India has issued fresh travel restrictions for international travellers coming from 'at risk' nations in the wake of the Omicron outbreak across several countries in the world.

Advertisement