Cup of freshly brewed coffee in hand, tip toeing quietly down the wooden floorboards of the ship’s corridor so as to not disturb the rest of the still sleeping guests, up the stairs which seem to squeak at every step in the morning stillness, to the soon to be sun basked deck. It is early morning in Kolata, it is quiet, the city has not yet started to awaken and it will be my last sunrise in India, before I head north towards Nepal. The third leg of this journey of discovery.
I share this magical pre-dawn time with a single, tenacious spider, who has spun his web on the ship’s railings and I wonder where on earth did he come from, with the ship being moored in the middle of the river and seldom making contact with the riverside.
The flowing river laps softly against the side of the ship’s bow and there is a soft breeze, just enough to stir the potted palm fronds which adorn the deck. The boat itself does not move and seems to almost sit defiantly atop the water. This breeze too makes the surrounding smoggy haze swirl in little eddies. These swirling eddies, may give the impression of a softness, but are actually warned at being dangerous to breathe. With this haze comes an almost metallic smell to the air, which is combined with smell of the muddy waters wafting up from down below. I take a sip of my coffee which helps a bit to alleviate this not too pleasant aroma.
A call to prayer from the opposite riverbank breaks the awakening silence, which has now started to reverberate with the calling of birds and the first of the distance hooting of cars and motorbikes. An aeroplane flying high overhead almost heralds the sun rays just starting to force their way through the unforgiving haze. Instead of the grey surrounds, colours start to emerge, the ever present water hyacinth which has followed us downstream, turns an emerald green and nature performs its magic making the sky an colourful palette of pinks and oranges.
Life starts to appear on the surrounding boats, which have also been moored midstream through the night, the far off street lights in the city seem to have a magic switch and all turn off simultaneously, almost saying wake up, morning is here. My spider, my partner in crime, disappears and I wonder how and where he spends his day, before coming out again at nightfall.
Good morning Kolkata, thank you for showing me your beauty before all the harsh realities of living in this city emerge in the glaring light of daylight.