Dourer upore chhuti…a vacation on the run


After a weeklong struggle to find a holiday destination, when it all failed, I decided to spend sometime at the Cox’s Bazar beach on the public holiday. The sea waves, cool weather and beach environment and the ongoing sand festival were all too tempting to resist. And so in the evening I told my friend Hassan Noor, (fondly called Babu) about my idea of spending weekend at Cox’s Bazar and a few hours later I found him as excited as me about the whole plan. The rush at the counters of Panthapath was shocking. Not only the tickets weren’t available but a group had literally chartered the Green Line bus to go to Cox’s Bazar. We had checked all the bus services at Panthapath and Arambagh and just when we were about to return home, two seats at Soudia & S.Alam Air Con survived our trip. However, the bus was only till Chittagong, from where we were to find another bus for Cox’s Bazar. When finding a bus appeared so difficult, I was only wondering what more trouble there was ahead and how difficult it would be to find hotel rooms. We reached Chittagong at around 8 in the morning on March 26. Once again we were in crises of seats for Cox’s Bazar in all the popular bus services at Dumpara and eventually managed to find two seats in a local bus that we boarded from the Station Road. The journey that usually takes three hours, took us at least five hours. There were four separate road accidents between the stretch of Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar, one of them killed six and another bus accident killed some 35, one was a CNG and bus head-on-collision and the other I do not remember. The incidents were a result of the mad rush of people that I haven’t witnessed even during the Eid holidays when people struggle to go home. So, all that took nearly two hours to clear the road. We did not even take breakfast until we reached Cox’s Bazar and found a hotel room by the time it was 3’o clock in the afternoon. Let alone the Seagull hotel, the best of Cox’s Bazar, even the roadside hotels were all sold out. Once again luck survived our peaceful vacation when we eventually found a hotel room at Western Plaza, another hotel of the Sea Palace which was a really nice one. The room that we boarded had the sea view. The Thai fried rice and chicken chili onion were our day’s first meal worth a shocking Tk 813. The price was more because we called for room delivery which added 25 per cent service charge. Oh, although we were looking for room for a day, but the hotel executive took advantage of the crisis by selling it to us for two days. All set and done, I finally was at the beach I was longing for. Anyways, the sun set and as I was coming back, my friend Babu stopped by Fantasy Tours, a travel shop and we decided to visit the Saint Martins island the next morning. It was at 6:30 in the morning we were scheduled for the bus ride to Teknaf and then the LCT Kutubdia was to take us off to the island by 12:30. It did happen exactly the way except that we delayed the bus by some minutes. The bus conductor kept calling us on phone and when we finally came down to the hotel lobby he angrily murmured, ‘maiya mainsher o ato deri hoi nah ready hoite.’ F**ker, if only you knew what it takes to be a man. So anyways, we boarded the Kutubdia vessel. The ride through the Bay of Bengal was not just pleasant but it was thrilling when the vessel started tilting in the middle of the sea, once on the right and then on the left. We reached St Martins at 12:30pm. Babu wouldn’t miss his Jumma prayer at any cost and so we said within two hours we had in hand at the island. I enjoyed the coral fish at the island for its specialty and Babu the way he is preferred beef curry over sea food sitting right next to the sea. Done with lunch and prayer, I start feeling the island, the beach and the waves of the sea. I have seen blue water and bathed in it for the first time. It tasted salty though. But well, nonetheless it looked amazing and so unlike the one that is in Cox’s Bazar. Bathing under the sun for the few minutes I had was amazing. Babu wouldn’t wet himself in the water because firstly, he doesn’t have a second outfit and most importantly he has his N95 with him to take my photo. 😛 I didn’t bring a second outfit for I knew I would return to Cox’s Bazar that very evening and I came here to bathe in the sea and enjoy the place to the fullest. Wish Babu was a full girl, the fun then would have been more. So anyways, after having him take photos and sometimes embarrassing him going bear bodied, we had to run for the open seats at the LCT Kutubdia. At the launch, a new group of passengers occupied the seats we travelled along with some 10-12 others. Because the seats were not reserved, anyone could occupy them and so the new set of passengers took the opportunity. Babu and me being the group of two were able to find two chairs. After a while, when the 10-12 others who travelled with us had arrived, the clash of the new passengers on the ship and the old had occurred and in process none of the group were able to secure their seats except that Babu and I got back our old seat arrangement. All set and done, the journey once again being as awesome as it ought to have been, we reached Cox’s Bazar at 9:30pm, only 45 minutes to our bus scheduled for Dhaka. No time to relax until we boarded the next bus. The Western Plaza GM was kind enough to refund us the payment for the second day’s hotel reservation as we did not stay there. Well for that, I had to introduce myself as a journalist to pull some weight, as my colleagues always say, it works. What annoyed me was Babu’s sudden laid-back attitude right after finishing dinner at Seagull. The bus had arrived at the beachside counter. After finishing dinner, in spite of the hurry we had, we got ourselves two scoops of Movenpick Swiss chocolate icecreams. Although the bus station was merely two minutes walk from the Seagull hotel, but since the bus was waiting and I was receiving calls from the counter, I preferred taking a rickshaw and Babu, as irritating and stubborn as he can get, was in the mood to walk down the road right at that moment. He just got on my nerves for sometime, until I cooled myself down. The entire trip was awesome and so was this last minute friction between Babu and me.

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