Storm on the Padma

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Travel  |  House: Booksie Classic
This is a story about my experience whilst traveling down the mighty brown murky waters of the Padma River in Bangladesh on a large boat that looked like it shouldn't of been sailing whilst in a middle of an almighty storm which caused the boat to ever so slightly lean to its side, it is a short story about an experience that could of cost me my life as boats like the one I was on tend to sink in Bangladesh!

Submitted: January 24, 2016

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Submitted: January 24, 2016

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Me and my colleagues from Bengal Tours had just travelled cross country from the port city of Mongla to the banks of the River Padma, I can’t remember the name of the small river settlement as I didn’t think it was important at the time, the settlement was very fast paced with many people rushing from one place to another, making their way through the gaps of the heavy traffic waiting to be let onto the ship that was taking us back to the Dhaka Division (not the city). The settlement had a dusty main road and a bridge, running down each side of the road was shops, garages and residential buildings, I don’t remember seeing properly constructed buildings with proper planning, it was more of a quick set up using wood, mud and thin metal.

I was following my colleague down the side of the road, breathing in all the exhaust fumes and dust that was coming from the large trucks that tried squeezing their way through the mayhem, a small foot bridge was available for foot passengers, the ship itself looked more like a tanker ship rather than a passenger ship, it was quite small in length which made me wonder how they were going to fit everyone on, the height though was high, it wasn’t a colourfully decorated ship at all, in fact the colour scheme was dull with large rust patches, this wasn’t the sort of ship you would normally see foreign passengers on like myself. 

I made my way up the steep metal staircase to the top floor to find a seat, there was an inside area which held a few small shops but it was largely congested by what must have been nearly a hundred people in this small room, the top floor was also a seating area which was open to the elements, it had a roof, a few plastic chairs in which mine was broken and a thin rail that goes around obviously stop people falling, I was looking around at everyone and I noticed nearly all eyes were on me and people weren’t even hiding the fact that they were staring at me, I remember trying to avoid the gaze of one man who was sat opposite.

I asked my colleague to look after my seat as I went off to look for the toilet, I already had thoughts on what state the toilet was going to be, as I made my way back down to the ground floor, I opened this largely heavy metal rusted door to find a hole in the floor, the amount of flies that flew around that small little compartment was off putting, the smell of stale urine and strong smell of poo was strong, so strong in fact that I gagged coming to the point of tears streaming down my cheek and coming close to becoming sick, I quickly did my business and go to wash my hands, I couldn’t take one of my hands off my nose and I didn’t dare want to breath for the whole time I was in that room, I pushed that door open not really caring who was on the other side, I just wanted to breathe again, I breathed in a large portion of fresh air into my lungs and started coughing once again, trying to hold back the sick that wanted to come out.

I made my way back up to the top floor for some fresh air, away from vehicle fumes on the ground floor. Evening was coming and the sun looked about an hour away from sunset, I watched as trucks were still being loaded onto the ship. Eventually we started moving, it felt good to be finally moving closer to home, the flat agricultural land slowly passed us as we made our way down the brown murky waters of the Padma river; the Padma river is the same river as the famous Ganges river in India, but as soon as it crosses the border to Bangladesh the name changes to Padma. The river had small waves that caused the smaller boats to slowly rock as they made their passage down the river, if you wanted to you could catch a speed boat across the river which actually looked quite fun, the boats would bounce to each wave as it was shot into the air and crashed back down again into the water.fad283_06c57b563bf04956a68d8f86159c5554.

Lots of people were still staring at me as I sat their which I have grown use to since my time in Bangladesh, but when another white foreigner came up to the top floor I automatically started staring at him, most probably with the same thought of the locals, thinking what the hell is he doing here, as I was staring at the other foreigner I looked around to noticed everyone else was as well, at that point I sat there and thought, I have been in Bangladesh to long. The journey was quite enjoyable even though there wasn’t much to do, a young boy who had watched me since I got on to the boat always stood by me, so close in fact that when I was sitting down I could feel his warm breath on the back of my head, I just learnt to ignore him, but when our eyes do lock onto each other I just give a small smile and a nod and he smiles back which I thought was nice.

 

 

 

A man came on to the top deck, he walked past me very slowly holding an extara, which is like a bamboo guitar, he stood in front of a small crowd; I looked him up and down, he was wearing the traditional lungi which is like a giant tea cloth that you wrap around your waist followed with a loose red shirt and a scarf, his black hair looked a little greasy and both of his eyes were out of place. He started pulling some of the strings on his extara and then all for a sudden started singing beautifully, the tunes originate from Bangladesh where he was singing traditional Bengali folk songs to pass time on this journey, people would sit or stand near him and watch him closely, I was watching his hands, the way he was plucking at the strings to make this tune that seemed to calm me, once the music had stopped it was time to give him a tip, you don’t normally see many buskers in Bangladesh so I gladly gave him around a 100tk.

A strong wind suddenly bashed the side of the ship as if a giant had blown a gust of air from his lungs, I stood up and walked over towards the back of the ship, looking at the river from where we just came from, a large black cloud lingered not far behind us, the roar of thunder echoed which was followed by a streak of lightening, the river in the distance slowly disappeared out of sight, one passenger said quietly to me “that is the rain coming”, I looked in amazement and replied back to the fellow passenger “if that is the rain causing the river to disappear, then that has to be tremendously heavy”, I went back to sit on my chair, the wind got heavier as if that invisible giant was trying to blow us over, all other passengers were preparing their jackets and umbrellas ready for what was about to come.

There was an eerie silence that came off the fellow passengers and then within seconds rain came lashing down so hard that it would cause your sensitive skin to turn red, the flat agricultural banks on either side of the river nearly disappeared amongst a blanket of brown water that has splurged over from the river, the wind caused the full force of the rain to thrash at everyone on the deck feeling like someone was throwing cold needles in our direction, the roof that was above our heads provided some what little protection but wasn’t very good when it came to the dripping leaks that would cause sections of the deck to flood, the sound of crashing echoed around the ship as large metal and wooden objects were blown over and the howl of the wind made its way through the passages of the ship, everyone was drenched to the bone including myself, I was cold, shivering but still having a great time, “are you scared Marcus” one of my friends shouted across whilst holding onto his hood, I turned to him with a large grin across my face that stretched from ear to ear and shouted back “of course not, it reminds me of Wales” letting out a little trembling laugh; the storm didn’t settle down, our ship felt like it had tilted ever so slightly, the waves of the Padma would soar up the side of the ship and come thunder bolting onto the deck, the cloud covered sky showed no signs of happiness just an array of different shades of black and grey, it was truly a storm that I didn’t want to experience again anytime soon.fad283_6147cdf117234ce1b9663d9065f4fd11.

 

 

We were coming closer to the port, but the ship felt like it was leaning slightly as if the winds push was causing the boat to tilt, the ship slowed down and the orange clouds from the lights of the port really lit up the sky and gave the whole scenery a powerful effect. The rain was still hard but the wind had thankfully stopped, at the bottom of the slippery metal staircase that was to take us down to the lower deck was completely flooded, my socks were wet as I had to sway my way through the large puddle, inch by inch I managed to get off the ship, but there was no structure, I was following the bag of my colleague to find my way to the bus station; all for a sudden darkness swept in, the rain of course still heavy and the occasional lighting would light up the area, I stopped in my tracks for no apparent reason but luckily I did as a large amount of water came crashing down into the path I was just about to walk, I thought to myself that someone was looking out for me up there.

 

 

 

As I stepped foot on the land I was met by sludge which wasn’t very pleasant, the squish squash sound of my feet was met by suddenly falling over placing my hand in the mud, temporary streams of rivers made their way past people feet which many people had to do large steps over. We finally made it to the bus station, some of the drivers would grab onto my arms trying to get me onto the bus, but I gave them a shove thinking don’t you dare just grab me like that, it wasn’t the bus I wanted to go on anyway well really I didn’t know which bus to go on, there was no signs, the only form of information would be the man yelling the destination names out in Bangla, I couldn’t make sense with what was going on.

When I did find the bus I was relieved to be sat in the warmth, the bus atmosphere may have been chaotic but I didn’t care anymore, I turned around to look down the isle to find that there were two young guys my age staring at me, tapping each other and then returning their gaze at me, I looked away from them but could see at the corner of my eye they were still staring, they didn’t look very friendly, their face and presence gave off a sinister feeling, I stuck closely to my colleague until we got back to Dhaka.  

 

You can follow the adventures of Marcus Woolley by either visiting his website on http://marcuswoolle5.wix.com/marcustravelhomepage or by visiting following his Facebook and Twitter account http://marcuswoolle5.wix.com/marcustravelhomepage#!contact-me-here-/q21ls


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