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Monday, June 5, 2017

LCI Manipur Team On Way Back From India Surf Festival, 2016

LCI Manipur Team On Way Back From India Surf Festival, 2016
by Lukhendro Keisham

In front of the house we put up at Kolkata.
          15th November: We did the dismantling of the longboarding ramp along with a beach cleaning activity on the next day after the India Surf Festival. All the guest had left and we went ahead to give a hand at the after event activities under that scorching sun. Headed back to Rangers and we set up our tent there. Everyone rushed at the lagoon for shower. People were busy planning and collection materials for post - event media: review, photographs, interviews, etc.

Victoria Memorial, Kolkata
          New house rules for food were enforced at the camp. Many of the participants at the camp were leaving today. Among them is Andy Tourangbam, who has to catch a train for Bangalore at 3:00 am from Bhubaneshwar railway station. He was representing Hungry Lens, a photography community. Being a Manipuri and due to unavailability of transport to Bhubaneswar at that hour (1:00 am) Gayaltsen Wangdi and I took the task to drop him. Instead of Bhubaneshwar we went to Konark to fetch a transport. Found a three wheeler auto rickshaw, paid the driver Rs.600/- from Konark to Bhubaneshwar train station and bet him bye. On the way bank we stop by to see five deer that came out to the open highway from the woods and few other animals at a different stretch.
          All was well at the end. Everyone was dead sleep when we reach the camp.

Appa, Pilot and Khaba (L-R)
          16th November: The LCI Mumbai Team left today morning. Everyone bet them bye with a group photo. The Manipur Team along with few friends went to Puri. Few stood at the ATM queue and some went to a bank to convert demonetized currency notes to valid ones. Later we booked the bus tickets from Puri to Kolkata for the next day.

Boris Nongthomba, the first time he saw a Rs.2,000/- note
          Though it was all priorities first it was already getting dark at Puri. We went Puri to visit the famous Jaganath Temple but all was not fruitful. Instead we stuff ourselves to one auto rickshaw and headed back for Rangers. On the way we stopped to a wine shop for enough stocks for the day. We promised the entire campers at Rangers that we will be treating them with Manipuri chicken curry for the dinner. So we bought live chicken as we couldn't find the dressed ones and vegetables too. The funny part is we left the vegetables at the vegetable shop itself. We came to know only after we reach our camp. Ruben and I drove back on a moped and brought it back.

At the airport for Imphal. (L-R: Lukhendro Keisham & Pilot Longjam)
          Everyone was certain that the dinner will be late. We hit the kitchen at once. We did the chicken the old school way at the kitchen itself with the only available blunt local knife. Our friends Ramya Rao & Shalini Iyer, both from Hydrabad and a strict vegetarian helped us with the vegetable salad. All the LCI Manipur Team was involved. Yes, we kept everyone waiting and it was only at 11:30 pm the dinner was served rather than the usual 9:00 pm. As usual it was followed by bonfire singing session. Niko Gadda, our ISF friend from Argentina dedicated an Argentinean song that day.

Waiting for the tram. (L-R: Lukhendro, Khaba, Ruben & Boris)
         17th November: We left Rangers Adventure Foundation on 17th November, 2016 at around 1:00 pm. On reaching Puri we kept our luggage inside the bus we will be travelling to Kolkata. As we decided to make up with yesterday's visit to the great Jaganath Temple we headed straight to the temple. Still hundreds of devotees in and around the temple can be seen. Inside we took a tour of all the major shrines. We were lucky to set our sight among the hundreds of spectators who were waiting to have a glimpse of changing the flag at the highest point of the main shrine by a devotee at 5:00 pm daily.

Touring chariot parked outside Victoria Memorial
          It was a memorable moment for all of us to step inside the historic shrine where thousands of pilgrims and Hindu devotees from my home state including our parents pay a visit once in their lifetime. We walk on the roads where the great Rath Yatra takes place annually. Sweet memories of childhood sprang up where we use to watch the festival on DD National television channel while we were kids. On our way back to the bus station we tasted few of the street foods around. It was dark and we hop into the bus for Kolkata. For us the India Surf Festival ends today.

Our pockets were dry, we could only afford this at KFC.
          18th November: We were to catch a flight from Kolkata for Imphal on 20th Nov. The bus dropped us at Babughat in Kolkata. We put up at one of my friend's place, Mutum Somorjit Singh (aka Koba). He lives with his family at Dhakuria. They treated us warmly with whatever possible they cold. He was our guide on our first day at the city. With him we went to South City Mall, did some shopping, booked movie tickets for a next day show, walk around the streets and showed us around.

Momos are everywhere in Kolkata.
          With decorative lives on streets and loudspeakers on all corners the city was in a celebration mood. Our host welcomed us with a home like treatment, Manipuri dishes at dinner.

          19th November: Started the day with Doctor Strange, the movie at Inox Multiplex, South City Mall, followed by few window shopping and momos on the way back. In the afternoon went to Victoria Memorial. Due to renovating works the inside of the historical building was close for public viewing. The garden was still crowded and we stayed till the visiting hour ended for the day. It was an unexpected sight to see those horse chariots parked outside the memorial gate as public transports well decorated like a king's. The scene reminds me of the weekly television serial of Ramayan and Mahabharat on Doordarshan television channel.

View on the way to airport.
          About a kilometer walk and with the help of a friendly passerby we took a tram to New Market. The fondest memory was the Shree Leathers store at the market. It was such a satisfying experience to choose the kind of leather garments and accessories from such a huge collection. Almost all the store remains crowded at the market. While Appa, Boris and Pilot went for few more shopping Ruben and I return back to the room early, after a plate of momo each.

Inside an Ambassador texi.
          20th November: We flew back to Imphal from Kolkata on 20th November, 2017. It was the harvesting season of the year in Manipur. We all disperse for our homes at the Tulihal International Airport.


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