The Beautiful Forest: Sundarbans
We finally made it to the sundarbans after months of planning. I seems like it was just yesterday when all of us were sitting in the HAB in St. Ben’s in central Minnesota in the United States on the other side of the world discussing how magnificent the tides were here in the Bay of Bengal. From reading The Hungry Tide and speaking with Amitav Ghosh about the sundarbans, I was surprised by what I saw. The sundarbans did not look like the picture I’d painted in my head. I’d imagined a denser and narrower river with a ton of plants and shrubs and very tiny inhabitable islands.
The sundarbans is a beautiful place; it definitely lived up to its name. The sun rise and sunset in the sundarbans was breathtaking. The contradicting thing was that the very same beautiful sun that puts smiles on our faces and lifts our hearts off the ground was the same exact sun that bakes us alive and breaks out mood into tiny pieces at noon. We got fried during the day and curse the sun for its monstrous and devious act, but we cannot take our eyes off (and our cameras) the sun when it was slowly going to sleep or waking up.
Another amazing thing about the sundarbans was the rise and fall of the tides. The moon is one mighty powerful force for being able to control the tides. At 5:00 a.m. this morning the water was so low on the ground and at 1:00 p.m. the water rose up very high off the ground. The drastic change of water level in those hours was mind blowing; I cannot find the words or metaphors to articulate it.
The mangroves were just as amazing as the tides, sun and moon. The trees in the sundarbans have developed breathing roots that spike up from the ground. It’s almost as if these trees are breathing through their lungs with these roots. The heart gives pulse to the lungs and through this relationship humans can live. I wonder, “Does the same science apply to these mangroves?” Did they have a heart that pumps blood for them and comes out through the roots? I understand that eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells are different but just the thought that perhaps these trees are just much alive as humans are strikes me. Just think what if these trees have hearts, feelings, emotions, wants, desires and dreams. Humans always disregard plants ability to do these things; instead humans chop down forests, pollute the water with oil and trash the earth.
This is where Bon Bibi makes its entrance. Bon Bibi’s presence is very noticeable in the sundarbans. It was great to finally see it played out in the Bon Bibi Yatra after reading so much about it. The nature-human relationship seems to be a very powerful theme in the sundarbans. They respect nature and the natural presence of life. At the same time they use what they need and leave what they do not. There’s a lot to learn about and from the sundarbans.
I’m a tad disappointed that I didn’t know about the sundarbans before coming to Bay of Bengal. It just shows how little we know of the world. I knew that the Bay of Bengal was the deepest delta in the world and it’s very unique. Little did I know how much life exists at this delta of the world. People talk about how amazing the country of seven tides is and now I believe it. The tides in the sundarbans are truly amazing.