Saturday, October 31, 2009

Hitch-hiking to the Sunderbans

Before landing in Kolkata, Sunderbans was on my mind. Finally, the idea materialised into a trip last weekend (24th Oct). Thought of having some fun in the travel, so showing the finger to packaged tours, I went hitch-hiking :)... The road took me first on a local train, then across a river on a flat rickshaw, to the next stop on a "auto" and then to the final destination (Pakhirala) on a "van". 
These are the flat rickshaws which carry "affluent" passengers across the river in low-tide conditions. Every-day commuters do not use these but just wade across the thigh-deep mud and river. Tried it too, but two early slips convinced me to take the "affluent" carrier service.
These are called "autos" - sturdy old cruiser bike-fronts and engines fitted to flat rickshaws. Apart from these improvised carriers, I did not see any cruiser bike there. Do not laugh, but these are called "vans". I tried a lot to understand the reason, but the origin of this term was lost. I just know that the ride was one of the most enjoyable I have had.


SubhadipK said...

The van is used as a major medium of commuting in rural areas of Bengal,there are 2 reasons.A rickshaw can carry only 2 persons and the van can carry around six.Hence the fare to be paid comes down(economies of scale) and becomes affordable to rural people.Secondly the van can be used for other purposes like transporting goods and vegetables which is not possible by rickshaw.

Angarish Otta said...

Thanks a lot for the info, Subo :)