Saturday, April 16, 2011

Narmada Sagar - The Trip


Day 0:
I get into Punjab mail. I have some side lower seat in a second class compartment, adjacent to the compartment door. Something to generally cherish, but not n a second class compartment, coz any Indian train usually also is a general compartment, where people generally hop in for short distances, and pay the TT some petty bride to just sit there.

I discover my seat, and three people are already sitting on it, with one guy putting his chappals on the seat, I rudely ask him to take his feet down and not make my would-be bed dirty. During the night I discover that the dude and 7-8 along with him are part of MP's wrestling team, and had come to Mumbai for some inter state wrestling contest.

I exchange my seat with some other dude, who has a longer seat, where i might fit in, and get ready to sleep, only to discover that it is pretty cold, and I haven't brought  any pull over sheet. The rest of the night is spent shivering, and trying to sleep. The wrestling company gets down at Khandwa, from there they will take a meter gauge train to Indore. The one I took the last time, on my way to Maheshwar.

Day 1:

I get down at Khirkiya around at 6:30 AM and walk into the station master's room. I discuss my plans of seeing the dam, some water and Harsud with him and his side kick.
Kya dekhna hai tumko, Paani?  I nod in assent. I am given my options. For new Harsud, there is a bus every half an hour starting from 7-7:30. I may also take a train and get down at Chanera and go to Harsud. I discover in due course that Chanera is also New Harsud, my destination, but later. In my mind there still is only one Harsud left, the new one, but when I am being advised, they think I want to see the old Harsud, and advice me accordingly.

If you want to see water, you can go to Piplani in a share auto. I later discover Piplani is one amongst three stations which has drowned due to Indira Sagar Project.
For the Dam  take the Kashi passenger in the reverse direction at 7 AM, get down at Talvariya and take a bus from there for Narmada Nagar.

But why the hell did you come to Khirkiya, In any case you should have got down at Khandawa. I did not have the heart to tell them that from Google Maps, Khirkiya, looked like a good option to start this trip.

I make my plans to go to Piplani, got into a shady lodge to freshen up, have a breakfast of Poha and chai, walk up to the share auto to go to Piplani, but then chang my mind and go back to the station to go to Talvariya. I royally miss the kashi passenger and sleep on the station bench for a couple of hours for the next passenger train. The train arrives at around 10, and reaches Talvariya some time later.I take a bus from there and work up a contact to find somebody in Naramada Nagar, when it occurs to me that an uncle actually has worked here for some time about 15 years back.

I get myself a government rest house, pretty shady and dirty, but with the one thing I badly want that day, a bed. I was told bluntly, there is no lunch, if you want to have a lunch, you have to walk down a couple of kilometers in the blistering Saturday afternoon. I watch some first few overs of the India Sri Lanka final and then go to sleep.

I wake up in the evening, see some 40 to 45 overs of Sri Lankan innings and go discover the Dam. The dudes have made a nice park for people to come visit the dam. For a lot of people, the dam usually is part of some pilgrimage, as if it is some sort of a temple. The CRPF dude informs me that the Musem in the park has been closed permanently because of the dehati people, who generally vandalize the properties.

I go back to the guest house, try to convince the khansama for some dinner, but he flatly refuses. So I walk down to the bus stand to have my dinner. I also watch bits and pieces of the match outside every shop on the road. A TV has sprung up mysteriously in all the shops, and everybody is watching the match. People in the colony on some big screen in the open air theater.  I curse fate for making me walk 4-5 km for a dinner. Tomorrow, I will walk 6 KM at a brisk pace to try not missing my train. I come back to the guest house watch Dhoni move from 46 to 90 odd and win the Cup.

Tomorrow, I make plans for leaving for Harsud early in the morning. But before that I need to go the bridge downstream to the Dam and then take an early morning bus for Harsud. I will first have to go to Khandwa and from there to Harsud.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Finally Harsud

The Planning

I have wanted to go to Harsud for a long time. Couple of reasons. There was a lot of hue and cry when it was getting submerged few years back, around seven, and the fact that a new city was manufactured called new Harsud and people forced to believe that this is their old Harsud. Divided into sectors, very well organised etc. I wanted to see how people have taken to this form of staying in a manufactured city.

I was assuming that Harsud as it did in the past does not exist anymore as it has been completely submerged by water. This was an assumption which got busted in due course.

The other reason is my belief in the Arundhati Roy school of inquisition, where you your self go and see things as they are for yourself, rather than read or see some journalists presentations of the facts. In short, I call this method as : Go to the source.

And I had seen this reservoir, Indira Sagar on Google maps and  wanted to go and see it. Since this is a reservoir, there should at least be one damn somewhere around it. And my vague idea was that I wanted to see it.

Broadly if I were to structure my thoughts, I would say I am interested in huge infrastructure projects like Dams and its effects like resettlement. I have not go much into environmental effects and other ecological changes caused by dams.

This was a whim like a thousands I hold, but firmly believe in taking them seriously. So Harsud was in the background. And I also happened to be reading this book , The river and Life by Sanjay Sangavi, which talks about some NGO type conference which happened in Harshud in late 80's. This brought Harsud back on top of my mind and somebody told me that Monday was off.

I joined both these and figured why not use the long weekend and see Harsud, so what if there is a world cup final on Saturday.So this plan was made thought on a Thursday and executed on Friday evening, when I barely got out my bosses clutches to hang on to a Punjab mail, that evening leaving for khirkiya.

P.s. Someday when I start taking my writing more seriously, i will try to edit out the crutches of "And", "That" and "So" from my writing.