Smooth sailing

about 8 months ago
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Ever wonder what some of these high profile officers do after retirement? Take the case of Upendranath Biswas, formerly the joint director of the Central Bureau of Investigation. He is the one who brought down Lalu Prasad Yadav in the fodder scam.

Well, he is leading a quiet life, pursing his passion. He grew up on the banks of the Madhumati river, which is today in Bangladesh. His father was a merchant and owned many boats and thus his fascination for boats began in early childhood itself.

He strongly feels that boats are a very integral part of West Bengal’s heritage and many of these boats are fast disappearing. In a bid to chronicle history and highlight the need to conserve this heritage, he has put in place a ‘Heritage Boats of Bengal’ museum. This is probable one of its kind in India and showcases 46 models of boats which are unique only to Bengal.

So why does the state have so many different models? Biswas has explained that boats were designed keeping the flow of the river – slow, tepid, fast, shallow and that decided the design. And this is true for any where – if you ask a boat maker to make a boat, his first question would be, “ for which river?”

Every boat is named based on its origin or purpose – khorokisti gets its name from the Persian word “kashti” (for ship, or boat), which may indicate that the boat’s origins were Persian; another one is named ‘Sultani’  as it had the ability to sail against the wind; patia was a small fishing boat.

These boats, dwindling away and taking along with it the art of making boats depicts an era gone by. Kudos to Biswas for putting together such an important work!

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