My memories of March 2018 will always be special. Firstly it was my first North-East visit in all these years and secondly the reason why I was there was something special. It was first flight to Guwahati and from there we headed to Shillong- popularly known as the Scotland of the East.
Having heard from my friends about the Umngot River (popularly known as Dawki) possibly being India’s cleanest river, I was all excited to visit this beauty.
The road to Dawki –
The Umngot River flows through Dawki, a small little busy town with the East Jaintia Hills district close to India-Bangladesh border. As the drive got closer to this natural beauty out driver showed mentioned “Woh dekho Banglasdesh”. Getting closer I could see the Bangladesh plains. I had a smile mixed with curiosity and happiness. For me, it was “Opar Bangla” the other Bengal (as I hail from West Bengal). This spot also happens to a major fishing point for the fishermen from nearby areas.
It had rained the day before and on arrival, everyone said its bit skeptical to see it that clean. After having bargained a boat the ride began. Three of us boarded the boat to fantasy. Clear instructions were given that ride will be for 45 minutes and Rs 600. The river forms a natural divide between Ri Pnar (of Jaintia Hills) with Hima Khyrim (of Khasi Hills) and both the hills are joined by a single span suspension bridge. That’s what connects INDIA & BANGLADESH.
The place too was already much crowded. Being summer vacation time Dawki saw a high inflow of tourist. All I did was to keep my fingers crossed and hope to see the pristine beauty in its real self. Floating in surreal Umngot in Dawki as I watched the water below, I could literally see the bottom of the lake.
The other side story
Slowly as the boat took to another side I literally had to hold my breath thinking that one step of mine outside the boat would make me land in Bangladesh. Never have I ever thought the gliding through beautiful Dawki I would reach my neighbour so soon. That’s the charm of BORDERLESS BOUNDARIES. The place saw BSF jawans from India and same from Bangladesh both in alert mode. A mere few steps and I found myself in another region and culture and country.
It’s an extremely porous border. This International border sees no line, no fence except some stone pillars. I couldn’t hold my excitement. Just like us, there were many visitors from the other side too. The jawans there were much cordial and they let you cross and take those few steps to the other land. Carrying their guns between borders, they are don’t hesitate to share a smile. Just like Dawki, Tamabil is the official border post between India and Bangladesh from that side.
Border across I spotted an old man selling jhalmuri (spicy puffed rice) and berry pickle. I quickly took a small helping of the jhalmuri and to my surprise, they do accept Indian currency. It costed me Rs 20. He made that small little effort to take those few steps towards India and give it to me. Some things are just to be felt, these are moments where words fail.
As I made my way back all I can say was this whole borderless feel made me happy. The much-relaxed atmosphere at the Dawki check-post as I watched the setting sun over the magnificent Umngot river, our Khasi boatman kept was busy with tales of illegal migration.
Ever thought what if this border never existed? Not to forget everyone understands the language of Love and smile never cost a thing.
Shillong to Dawki is a day-trip. It takes around 2.5 to 3 hours. Hire a taxi and club it with Mawlynnong visit.