September 2020 \ News \ TRAVEL COLUMN: SUNDARBANS

After a holy bathing festival at Sagar Island ...

By Susan M. Griffith-Jones

Clothed almost entirely by mangrove forests, it was once populated by tigers and crocs. First to appraise this as a potential cradle of rich agricultural land, the British hacked back almost the entire jungle, while the animals were shot for both sport and simply to get rid of them. The less than one hundred remaining ‘Royal Bengal Tigers’ are now completely enclosed on another island in the Sundarbans, situated a little further to the Northeast of here, walled by a high-wired fence and patrolled by tourist vessels.

We come to a funeral going on down by the shore. Saral is a native of Mousani and proud of his home, reflecting this in the way he communicates the place to me. A haunting drumbeat meets our ears, sound plucks my own strings, transporting me to a realm within the stage of this one, yet not of it. Saral tells me about the family of the deceased, among just several tens of thousands of people here, who are like kin to him. Everyone pretty much knows everyone.