Hooghly River in the state of West Bengal. This is the 20th day of navigation. We are always travelling on the river Ganges, but it is no longer called Ganges – Hooghly is one of the two branches of the holy river that reach its huge delta in the Bay of Bengal. In 1975, the British built the Farakka dam, a little further north, in order to distribute the waters of the Ganges in a controlled manner between its two branches – the Hooghly, which reaches Kolkata, and the Patma, which flows to Bangladesh. In ancient times, however, the Hooghly was considered the original route of the Ganges.
Today was a wonderful day which started very early as I repaired the broken mast. I can no longer count how many times I have repaired it, but what I like is that every time I fix it, the mast becomes stronger. My biggest regret, though, is that I have not yet been able to use my sail as much as I was hoping to. If I was to estimate a percentage I would say I use the sail only 5% of the time, the river current for 15% and I row the remaining 80%. Who knows, from here the percentages might change in favour of the current. In fact, this stretch of the river is much narrower than the gigantic Ganges bed and is even more enjoyable because it has a very strong current and with the many deviations and bends there is no time to get bored.
The river, however, is always highly polluted. It may be due to the rich vegetation on the edges that, like tentacles, holds on to objects and garbage. I have to say this is the worst stretch of river I have seen in the last ten days. Today, while I was navigating, Mauro had an important meeting which may confirm my feeling. As usual, he managed to chat with people in the village, many of whom were struck by some strange form of skin irritation. Mauro was affected, in particular, by the story of this man (pictured) who, due to wounds on his arms, now has infection throughout his body. Although we cannot speak of a direct effect from contact with the water of the Ganges, the doctor who visited these people expressly asked them to avoid the river. For these people, that is a great price to pay.