India to India via Bangladesh Part-2

It was during end of August, 2008 when we came back from a pretty long tour of Maharashtra. My elder brother took admission in an engineering college in Sevagram, Maharashtra and I along with my parents left for Mumbai where we stayed at my uncle's place and had a great time exploring the city of dreams. Our return journey was also slated through Bangladesh and no wonder I was thrilled to bits. This time our bus 'Shyamoli Parivahan' departed from international bus terminus Karunamoyee, Salt Lake, Kolkata. It was a Volvo bus with all the comforts you can ask for and they also did serve us a delicious, traditional bengali breakfast comprising of luchi, torkari and a kalakand. We then stopped at a restaurant before entering Petrapole to have our lunch because after that there was going to be no halts for refreshment purposes. After lunch our journey resumed and we stopped next at Petrapole and then at Benapole to get the formalities done. We reached Dhaka at 4:00PM and had to spend that night in Dhaka itself because by then it was already too late to leave for Agartala as the border check point closes at 6:00PM.

Then we went about searching for a suitable hotel to spend the night and luckily we got one close to the bus stand. We checked in with our luggage and had not even freshened up, as someone came knocking on our door. It was a hotel staff with a camera in his hand asking us for a family photo, which according to him they did whenever any international guest stayed at their hotel. At first we were a little hesitant but ultimately we had no other option but to give in. After sometime we stepped out on the streets of Dhaka and oh! What a beautiful sight it was, highrise buildings and luxury cars all around.

We then entered a restaurant to have our dinner where we had only roti and peper( papaya) dalna. Though what we had for dinner is very minimal but undoubtedly it was one of the tastiest dinner I ever had. My father and I thoroughly enjoyed the food whereas my mother struggled to finish half a roti. Well it was because before we left for Bangladesh someone had put it in her ears that restaurants in Bangladesh reuse the left over food by a customer to serve other customers!! I don't know whether it's true or not but it didn't bother me as I haven't seen that happen. My mother is fond of sweets and she insisted that we must go to a sweet shop. My father obliged and we went to a nearby shop. There the owner of the shop recommend that we should try 'Tangail er ChomChom'. Now Tangail is a city in Bangladesh famous for ChomChom. It was really mouth watering and we also brought a few back home. When my father told the owner where we came from, he was so delighted to hear that and hugged me and kept saying 'Abar Aiyo'(visit again). We went back to our hotel and had a sound sleep. Next day we had an early start and reached Agartala around 2:00PM thus completing a memorable round trip. Fast forward to 2014 , 6-years had gone by and we were set to travel through Bangladesh once again, thanks to the cancellation of flight by the airline company at the eleventh hour and guess what I was again without a passport!!! This time the journey was more or less same as the last time with only two exceptions. The first being a few hoardings which I saw that had written on it 'Smart Lungi'. It was really funny but anyone who has visited Bangladesh knows what a lungi mean to a Bangladeshi man and probably that is the reason why they want to look smart in those and thus these hoardings. The second exception was that once we reached Dhaka, I went for a walk with my father and had a packet of 'Pran Chips'in it's land of origin!

Then comes the climax of the whole story! Before leaving Benapole everyone needs to show their passport to the security personnel and only after they are satisfied one is allowed to enter Petrapole. My father got his passport verified and crossed the gate, my mother and I were next in the line and she also got her passport checked. As we were just about to cross the gate a security official stopped us, he asked me to show my passport to which I replied I had none. He immediately said that he cannot let me cross the border without a passport!! We were shell shocked. I nearly had a panic attack and had already started imagining life in Bangladesh!! My father tried to convince him by saying that the Indian officials had no problems with it and that's why we have come so far. But that person didn't believe us, his logic was how would he know whether its the same person travelling in the name of Anurag or someone else. He said he needed some sort of evidence to let me go.

Thanks to my father's awareness that he was carrying my Aadhaar card which in the end proved to be my saviour justifying it's tagline-'Mera Aadhaar Meri Pehchaan'.Fortunately the security personnel was satisfied with it and let us off with a warning.

#India #Bangladesh #Dhaka #Agartala #travel #kolkata

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