A lighthouse in my wallet!by Arvind Passey
All these years I’ve been carrying a lighthouse in my pocket and I didn’t even know it. Sounds incredible? Let me tell you this intriguing story of how I found a lighthouse in my wallet.
We were vacationing in Port Blair and were trying to find out the best places that we could go to in the limited time we had.
‘Have you seen the Cellular Jail?’ asked the travel consultant at the Megapode resort.
‘Yes, we’ve been there,’ I said, ‘and we’ve seen the sound-and-light show too’
‘Then you should plan a day for Baratang and the lime caves there. You will also be able to sight the Jarwa tribesmen, if you’re lucky.’
‘Yes,’ I said, ‘this visit is already booked for a day after we return from Havelock Island. We need a suggestion for today.’
He was unable to suggest anything meaningful, so we decided to go and find out something on our own.
We, therefore, opted for the local ferry from Chatham Jetty in Port Blair and reached the huge island we could see just across… this was Bamboo Flat. The island seemed like a sleepy village where even shop shutters were opened when the owner saw a customer walking with some resolute intent to buy.
I asked a passer-by how we could reach Mount Harriet and he simply said, ‘You can take a taxi from here to Mount Harriet.’
‘Ok,’ I thanked him and asked, ‘How much would he charge?’
‘Well, around 300 or 400 rupees if you take the full taxi.’
We did not have to wait much, nor did we have to walk to the taxi stand because just then a jeep taxi came and stood right next to where we were standing. A few girls got down, paid the driver his fare and that was when I asked, ‘You’ll take us to Mount Harriet?’
‘Sure. It will be 300 for a full taxi.’
It was when we had reached almost halfway to Mount Harriet that he stopped and asked us to walk across the road with him. We were puzzled, but did as he said.
‘Do you have a twenty rupee note?’ he asked.
‘See this lighthouse here?’ Mohan was obviously enjoying himself now and continued, ‘No one will tell you this story. But I know all about it and I will tell you.’
The lighthouse was certainly there on the note and when I looked towards where he was pointing, I nearly choked with excitement, ‘Hey! This is the same lighthouse that is there on the note.’
‘And we’ve never known this fact though we’ve been using this note for all our lives now!’ chipped in my wife, ‘This is incredible.’
‘Yes, incredible indeed,’ I said and examined the lighthouse on the note carefully before comparing it with what was there in front of my eyes, ‘This is making me feel like an explorer now. I’m thrilled.’
Mohan then told us that the spot where we stood was the place where the actual photograph was taken. ‘There is another spot on Mount Harriet where other tourists who are aware of this fact generally go to take snaps,’ he said, ‘but they go to the wrong spot. I know this because my father told me so. He was with the forest department and was there when the photograph was taken.’
We were in the presence of a man whose father had witnessed history being created! This was fascinating!!
At the entrance of the sanctuary at Mount Harriet, the forest official there did ask Mohan, ‘Did you tell them about the picture on the twenty rupee note?’
The official then told us that Mohan was the only driver who was enthusiastic about the spot that we had just been to. This was probably because he thought it was a part of his own family. ‘But he stops there only for tourists who treat him like a friend.’
Well, I said to myself, a sunny smile and a warm attitude is generally enough to take you headlong into the depths of incredible stories. This was one such incredible story that I’d be very unlikely to ever forget.
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