There are two things you notice when visiting Munger.
The first suddenly catches you the moment you enter the city – the architectural style is different to everything I’ve seen so far. It is from this particular angle that you clearly understand the city has had, over the centuries, influences from different origins – not least that of the English in the time of colonialism. The English came here to rest, attracted by the mineral-rich waters of the Ganges. There are some villas, still inhabited by a judge or an officer, which are quite wonderful.
The second thing to notice requires a visit to the ancient market inside the fort that protects the heart of the city. Here you see clearly that the vendors on the carts, the bazaar owners and the shop keepers who sell everything but mostly fruit, vegetables and fabrics, all comply diligently with the law that bans the use of plastic bags throughout the state of Bihar. I asked for an explanation from the man who runs the hotel I am staying at. In perfect English, he told me that plastic bags are not bio-degradable, produce toxic gases when burned, causes blockages in the sewage system that is also ready in crisis and pose a threat to the cattle which roam free in the city.
Patna should follow the same prohibition but in the three days I stayed in that city I did not find a single person with the same level of awareness as this hotel owner.
In every other respect, the chaos of Munger is typical of India, but here it has a style which makes you appreciate it more.
As for me, as I told you yesterday, due to the lack of water in the river I had to opt to transport the raft by land for 80km on board a pick-up. Tomorrow I will continue my journey. During transportation, the raft got a little broken and this morning I had to make some repairs. It was nothing that a few nails and a few turns of hemp rope couldn’t fix. I am starting to feel attached to this pile of wood and plastic and the more time passes, the more I find it to be one of the main protagonists and the true promoter of the message of this mission.
I will do everything I can to get my raft to Kolkata.