By Indranil Halder
I am always fascinated with Piyali Sarkar Mitra’s travel in Africa. A continent which is my favourite in the whole world. Piyali has been living in Africa for twenty one years and I meet her in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Who is Piyali Sarkar Mitra ?
Piyali Sarkar Mitra is from Barddhaman(Burdwan district),West Bengal. Piyali is a housewife who loves travelling in and around African continent with her husband Mr M Mitra.
Zambia: Her New Home
Year 2001, Piyali reached Keneth Kounda International Airport, Lusaka, Zambia with her husband. After arriving in Lusaka(the largest city in the country), she was fascinated by its markets, historical sites and varieties of local cuisines. At the airport, she was greeted by a local Zambian man. His warm smile, loud laugh and kindness impressed her from day one. He was the local Administrative Manager for the Japanese company, her husband worked for. Later on, she became his biggest fan for his simplicity and heartfelt demeanor. He is the reason today, Piyali adore the people of Zambia.
Today, she had stays in Zambia which is far away from her hometown of Barddhaman in the Indian state of West Bengal. As her husband kept working for Shimizu Corporation from Japan, she kept moved with him from Kathmandu, Nepal to Chittagong, Bangladesh to Lusaka, Zambia. He was relocated to Zambia to build national high way infrastructure projects. Today, Mr Mitra works for Sobi Industries,Zambia in Construction and Property and Piyali has become an integral part of Lusaka Bengali community. She was very happy when she found out that there are almost eighty Bengali families living in Zambia with an ever growing Indian community. She joined the Lusaka Bengali community group and enjoys celebrating Durga puja, Diwali and New Year.
She also became cultural secretary of the local Bengali community of Lusaka. Her goal is to promote Bengali cultural programs like drama, classical dance and musical nights in Zambia. She, herself is a wonderful singer and daughter can also perform Indian classical dance. She performs at the Indian Independence Day celebration in Lusaka. She had not only organised cultural shows but actively involves locals Zambians in the Indian performances. Performing with local Zambian artists gives her immense joy.
In Zambia, the local grilled Kafue fish ( served up with Bowa, a kind of wild dried mushroom and pumpkin leaves) or prawns for ‘Chingri malai curry’ are her favourites. Making delicious Bengali sweets like Rasagulla, Sandesh and Langcha with other Bengali ladies is her hobby. Everyone loves their handmade sweets. In her free time, after looking after her family and helping organise events and cooking delicious sweets, she is also committed in helping the needy by raised funds for food, medicine, clothes, scholarship, tube well, sewing machine and others. The reason she is actively involved in fund raising for locals is for her love and adoration for Zambia and her people. She knows without them, she won’t be able to live and enjoy such a beautiful country. They are part of her life.
Travelling in and around Africa :
Living in the Republic of Zambia, a landlocked country in central South Africa. It has borders with seven countries ( Angola, Botswana , Tanzania, Zimbabwe,the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Malawi and Namibia). She loves to travel from Victoria Falls (Victoria Falls’ locally known as ‘Mosi o Tunia’ in Zambia, a world-famous waterfall in Southern Africa on the Zambezi River at the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe) to the famous game parks such as Kafue National Game Park and South Luangua National Game Park on Zambia’s eastern border.
She also knows, she is lucky to live in Zambia as she can easily travel to many different countries in and around African continent such as South Africa, Namibia, Mauritius, and Tanzania. She believes that these countries have their own magnetism which can’t be describe in few words. Her favourite is Cape Town in South Africa. The most beautiful city in the world with magnificent beaches,dramatic mountain scape and spectacular coast line.
Then its Namibia. The country distinguished by the Namib Desert (is the oldest desert in the world along its Atlantic Ocean). She finds the beauty unbelievable and unique and the scenery amazing, adventurous and mindblowing. Not to mention, her recent travel to Mauritius with its beaches, reefs, under water waterfalls and scenic landscapes was mesmerising. Piyali also enjoyed travelling to Tanzania with its beaches, seafood and music. Walking in the pristine beaches of Zanzibar Island (in the Tanzanian archipelago of Zanzibar in Indian Ocean) holding hands with her husband stole her heart. Such is the charm of the African continent.
Nowadays, Piyali is happy that she moved to Africa and feels another twenty one years is not enough to enjoy traveling the continent with her family to experience new places , people and cultures. She has fallen in love with Africa.