"Wading neck deep in a swamp, your revolver is neither use nor ornament until you have had time to clean it" Mary H. Kingsley (1897)

river

Reaching Jordan

________________

________________

________________

________________

Pictures of an adult baptism taken at Yardenit on the River Jordan.
Image of “Deep River” sheet music copied from Wikipedia.
“Deep River” audio recoding sung by Marion Anderson.


Leaf Light

River light refracting through foliage.
________________


________________

Picture taken beside the Periyar River in Kalady.


Making Ripples

“The still lake without ripples is an image of our minds at ease, so full of unlimited friendliness for all the junk at the bottom of the lake that we don’t feel the need to churn up the waters just to avoid looking at what’s there.”
Pema Chödrön

________________

________________

________________

Pilgrims bathing in the Periyar river, Kalady.


Degrees Of Separation

Pictures taken on the “Crocodile Ghat”, Kalady.
________________

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

________________


________________


The Road To Gangtok

________________

Our suitcases appeared promptly on Bagdogra’s luggage carousel and within minutes we emerged from the airport terminal.

Once more our arrival was made easy.
A member of the tour company was waiting to welcome and garland us with traditional white Tibetan scarves,
the symbol of pure hope and intentions.
The courier briefly reviewed our itinerary and needs. We exchanged 24 hour contact numbers and he urged us to call in the event of any problem. They would be making contact with us every day to check that all was well.
An extremely young porter had been tailing us, keen to push the luggage trolley. Our guide finally smiled his agreement and gave him a few rupees

 Sanjeez, our new driver, was ready.

 Unlike Ravinder’s urban saloon, Sanjeez was in charge of a very hefty, all-terrain Toyota.
It seemed there would be mountain vistas after-all..

________________ 

First the city clutter was left behind.
We then drove through countless miles of a very green but very flat terrain,
the landscape of tea plantations on an almost industrial scale.
But this scenery began to change.

Though it remained green and fertile, we were climbing.

The road looped its way up increasingly steep hills.
Every valley funnelled its own fast-moving river,
and was littered with massive boulders.

Where access was easy, men gathered stones and sand from the riverbed to be used for home and road construction:
the latter a never-ending process in a region subject to frequent landslides.

Intermittent queues punctuated our progress along the road.
They marked the sites of recently fallen rocks or trees.
Road transport would need patience and skill.
________________ 

Finally we reached Sikkim.
India classifies this state as a restricted area.
Because of unresolved border disputes with China, anyone entering or leaving requires papers.
Robin had brought his Indian passport.
I proffered my “Letters of Transit”:
a crumpled and fading British passport; an Indian lifelong visa; and proof of my status as an “Overseas Citizen of India”.
It felt, just a little, like a scene from Casablanca.


Extra passport photos and copies of my documentation were also required, but we had been pre-warned and were prepared.
______________

With our papers checked and my passport stamped, we continued a relentless ascent for another hour or more until the first stop on our itinerary was finally reached.
Our journey would follow a very small part of the ancient silk route.
The next three nights were to be spent in Gangtok, state capital of Sikkim.

Sanjeez sounded the horn of his Toyota and a team of young staff swooped down to collect our bags.
In a matter of seconds we, and the luggage, were assembled at reception, being welcomed to the first of our hotels in the clouds.
________________  

Pictures taken in North Bengal and Sikkim.


The Wire

River ferries are commonplace here
but this ferryman stands out,
literally.

He collects his passengers from steps cut into the river bank
then safely carries them to the opposite side,
without the use of oars.

Instead, he walks his hands along a guide-rope, 
which spans the river. 

No fares are collected.

This free service prevents his fellow villagers from being isolated by their river.
It is
“pro bono publico”

A far from fashionable concept,
in the West
.
________________

Pictures taken of the river crossing, near Kottayam, Kerala.