At 8.30 PM that evening we reached Sadarghat of Dhaka and boy what a busy place that is! Crowded and bustling with activity, I witnessed old style auction of seats of vessels. This vessels are a very good option for travelling to the interiors of Bangladesh like Barishal, Jhalakati, Chandpur etc which are crisscrossed by several networks of rivers. The giant ship is 3 storeyed - the ground floor seats are auctioned and are basically for the poor. The 1st floor have bunks & 2nd & 3rd floor have cabins- AC & Non AC , some first class with attached dinning halls & washrooms & private balconies. They have a centralized kitchen & small shops selling tea/ coffee/ snacks etc with a corridor like balcony overlooking the river- which is sometimes narrow & at times broad like an ocean . There is a beautiful deck on top floor on which you can feel the wind , the smell of the river and the adventure of travelling whole night on water.
This journey is one of its kind. Even excellent service at the 1st class cabins could not make me sleep in my cabin. We selected a full moon night for enjoying this trip at its highest peak & thanks to the- oh- so romantic moon on Padma river we hardly could come down from the deck! There were small rivers floating on the river for catching fish with small lanterns lit in them - the silverish hue on the water - the moon in its full form - ah- I was remembering Saratchandra's novel "Srikanta" - the adventurous episode in which both Indranath & Srikanta goes to catch fish in the middle of the night! Those of you who have read Bengali literature will probably know what is the thrill of living your teenage!
Coming back to practical things, the fish served in dinner was excellent- we had Hilsa, chingri bhorta & Bele maach . I mean all the fish (not only HILSA) that we had in Bangladesh are very sweet & delicious in taste. The same goes for the bhorta preparations. The ship reached barishal next morning at 5 maybe but we were allowed to sleep peacefully with AC on till 7 in the morning( Excellent customer service is my take from Bangladesh). We reach Barishal jettyghat & took an auto to hotel Sedona from where our search for Alta gram- the village in which my father was born began. Let me tell you we had no clue where was it located - neither we had any relatives left there to guide us. It was an out & out adventure by two ladies & an old man :-)