Today as we wound up camp and moved on, the river started getting wider wider and yet, for the most part, there was enough water to carry on without hitting the shallows.After doing just about an hour or two we reached Chandpur and felt we had entered a time machine that transported us centuries back into a place that looked as if a sepia engraving of old medieval port town had come alive.
Chandpur is divided in the middle by Dakatia river that merges into Jamuna here. There were small boats criss-crossing the river from one side to the other; river gypsies with their shanty boats lined up on the side that were their dwellings and shops; large Arabian dhow like boats loaded with cargo; fancy personal boats of the rich merchants anchored near their warehouses; and huge passenger ferries with horns blaring to warn the river traffic, and all this was happening on a river that was half choked with water hyacinth. But obviously Dakatia had few meters of water to permit comfortable navigation for all those huge boats. We all went around the small town market and enjoyed our lunch in local eateries before proceeding south in main Jamuna river towards Barisal. For night we camped on a very small sandbank next to a village called Dur khola. Our arrival and camping created quite an excitement around and as we were surrounded by water channels that could be waded across on foot, we had waves upon waves of curious onlookers all evening. It was only when the darkness enveloped the area the human tide started receding and we had some privacy to do our cooking, writing, uploading etc.
Curiosity of seeing strangers is a two way process. When we visit island villages or town bazaars around ferry ghats where we stop, we also look at people, take pictures and touch to feel all materials that are new to us, be it a basket, cloth or a piece of jewelry and our hosts don’t make it out to be an invasion of their privacy. The fact is that we are yet to learn to take it as gracefully as the local people do. But we are improving.