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     Volume 2 Issue 101 | January 11, 2009|


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Ei Jagagan Degonge Dol
Lost in Paradise

Farhat Tasannum Farah

Will anyone believe me if I claim we visited heaven recently? No exaggeration! When you roll along serpentine roads cut through dark trees populating rough, blue hills, the words that pour from your mouth are amazing, fabulous, picturesque … Yes, it's near the sky, it is heaven! We met heaven…on earth.

We, the students of the Department of English, Jahangirnagar University, were eagerly waiting for a break from our usually busy schedule. And when the opportunity came, we grabbed it, planning a refreshing change: a tour of Bandarban and Rangamati. After a month of preparation; convincing parents and managing the funds, we started off on our way.

We reached Bandarban in the evening. Everyone was excited but it took some time to decide on the room distribution in the hotel! The group then dispersed. Some went to visit the river Sangu, some rushed to indigenous food shops to try tribal foods. Nappi is a popular food item that we had heard of in Dhaka; arriving at Bandarban we learnt that this is basically a type of spice, with strong, intense smell, mixed with almost any kind of food items but it's used especially with boiled prawns. Some of us also tried spicy oyster, the meat of monitor lizard (“gui shaap”), and an indigenous broth!

Next morning we went to a kyong, a Buddhist temple nearby at the top of a hill before we started for Shoilopropat waterfall, Peak 69, Chimbuk, and Nilgiri. We rode on the popular land cruiser jeeps popular locally! Soon enough, the wheels started rolling. The whole journey was a cacophonous orchestra of shouting, singing and screaming. We were equally gleeful and afraid when the jeeps were rushing down and up the numerous deadly curves! Few of us knew about such beauty present in Bangladesh. No one can believe unless they see for themselves how heavenly the scenic view of Shoilopropat, the gorgeous beauty of Chimbuk, and the eye-soothing expanse of Nilgiri peak are! When you are at Nilgiri, the range of sky is so big and the sky is so near, it seems you can touch the heaven! We probably were also back to our childhoods; otherwise why would we spend so much time in the children's park at Nilgiri, hurting our knees and elbows? Next day, before starting for Rangamati, we took a quick visit to Meghla Parjatan Park. The hanging bridge, the serene lake, the zoo, and the green coconut shop it was an exhilarating experience. Dropping for a little while at Shwarna Mandir on the highest peak of a hill, we rushed to Rangamati!

Getting room in the hotel was again a troublesome experience, but people were more interested to go out for shopping, because we couldn't do much shopping at Bandarban. The shopping lists included thami, pinon, shawl, masks, and of course yummy Burmese pickles! On the hotel balcony, we had a small tea party coffee, cake, pitha, doughnut, and chocolates accompanied by songs.

Next day was scheduled for Kaptai Lake, and it was again a mind-blowing experience! Our boat touched a number of places like Shuvolong waterfall, Shuvolong native market, “Chang Pung” hut restaurant, Peda Ting Ting, Parjatan Hanging Bridge, and Rajban Vihara. While our trip to the waterfall was a complete flop (there was no water then), our visit to “Chang Pung” was great, because there we found chumat karhura, an indigenous food item we were looking for a long time. The recipe does sound good: small pieces of chicken is boiled and cooked with very little spice; it is then wrapped by green leaves and put down into small piece of bamboo stick. The taste is more than awesome!

Back to hotel, however, no one was exhausted at all even after that daylong floating and trekking. It was the 'camp fire' night, but it was very difficult to arrange for in Rangamati. So we made it 'camp light' night, and arranged it inside the hotel thanks to the 33rd batch students. At first, there was a prize giving ceremony: Best Singer Award for screaming most during the jeep journey, Best Actor Award for nagging, and Best Writer Award for collecting the most exciting indigenous word; the phrase that came first in the competition was jubo sera hurol buro (meaning “looking young, behaving old”).

Next day we started for Dhaka at 9. On the way, we dropped at Tribal Museum: a small museum but definitely worth a visit! On our way back, the singing resumed, but there was a tinge of sadness. It felt like an entire life was compressed into five days, and we were lost in it! We made new friends; we learnt the meaning of sharing and caring; we experienced the still unspoilt beauty of nature. And, last but not the least, I must thank our teachers who accompanied us in this tour: Ahmed Reza, Mashrur Shahid Hossain and Sabera Sultana. Tijuk tabare!

Ei Jagagan Degonge Dol is taken from the song Ei shahar nagan rangamatya meaning 'this is the place where I enjoy swinging in the cradle hung in the tree'

Tijuk tabare is a Marma word meaning “Thank you”.

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