By Prithwiraj Purkayastha
Gooooooooooooooaaaaaaaaaaaaaaalllllll !!!! Gooooooooooooooaaaaaaaaaaaaaaallllllll !!!! At 4:00 AM on a chilly morning at a hotel room in Samudra Bilas in Mandarmani, Dr.Supratik Sanatani, the famous ophthalmologist from Kolkata, shouted in cheer and immense joy ! Hearing his cheerful voice we all other team members in the same hotel, who went to bed just few minutes before, after sleepless search for distance and exotic radio stations, woke up and rushed to doctor’s shack to found the reason of his excitement. In a few minutes we also started celebrating as we also found the same as that doctor did ! That was a great moment for all of us at hotel Samudra Bilas where we were staying in search of the world through the waves, the Radio Waves!!
Yes, ten person from different professions and different locations of India gathered in the that resort at Mandarmoni, at the southern tip of West Bengal coastline in India, with a similar vision and our aim was to hear the far far distance radio stations of the world via radio waves. The reason behind Dr. Supratik Sanatani’s joy was that at that time when the entire country might be sleeping, at that same time he was busy with his radio equipments and ultimately got success in listening a radio station from Amazonian nation Brazil and it was Radio Cultura on the shortwave coming out with live commentary of a football match between two local teams. Just imagine how wonderful was that moment was, when sitting in a small coastal place in India he was able to hear a local event’s live description which was happening in Brazil !!! Absolutely amazing ! On that special mission we not only heard stations from Brazil but heard signals from international radio stations from Laos, Indonesia, UAE, USA, Peru, Madagascar, Oman, Bahrain, Botswana, Armenia, Mali, Israel, Sudan, Zambia, Tunisia, Ethiopia, Rawanda, Germany, Romania and many more countries and no doubt news and event updates from many of such nations are not easily available in television or internet. And this is where the magic of this secret mission that we all DXers were on from 20th to 22nd January 2012.
I began this journey to that abode of DXing at Samudra Bilas in Mandarmani on 18th of January from my home town Jorhat. On that evening after a hard working day at office I cached the bus to Guwahati where I was supposed to take the Saraighat Express for reaching Kolkata. Mandarmani is about 180 kms way by road from Kolkata and from my home town I travelled by Bus, train and then car and crossed around 1600 kms to reach the DXped camp on 20th late evening. The most erratic moment of my journey was that when I heard in the mid way after reaching a small rail station called Pancharatna that our train is delayed by around 7 hours as a goods train derailed on the way. I reached Howrah station 6 hour late and just after reaching there I was directed to catch a local train to reach Alampur via Mourigram rail station. It was quite difficult for me to understand the train routs in West Bengal as every time I visited Kolkata on official purpose I travel by car arranged by our company to move from one place to another. So I took the help of local passengers and boarded the local Howrah-Kharagpur local train and one old gentleman was kind enough to guide me when to get down from train at Mourigram station. From Mourogram I hired one auto rickshow to reach “Alampur Mor” (Highway corner) and here I could not stop myself to taste the famous Kachuri and Rosogulla of West Bengal in a roadside dhaba ! As I was very much hungry I could not say how much I consumed, but only can say it was so tasty. I was in constant touch with Swopan Chakraborty who, by that time, already reached at Mandarmani along with Partha Sarathi Goswami and Dr. Supratik Sanatani and he informed me that they are working on some ground and antenna system and by evening the stage for great radio extravaganza will be ready. This increased my excitement to reach the camp more but I was directed to wait for another few minutes at Alampur as the other DXpeditioners would come by another SUV to pick me up from there for Mandarmani. After waiting for around one hour, I saw a Tavera SUV coming from Kolkata side of the highway with few PVC pipes tied on the top (for beverage) ! I simply guessed that it must be Babul Gupta and his team (Pradip Chandra Kundu, Sudipta Ghose and new entrant to DXped team Rev. Jyoti P. Chakravorty ! Without waiting I rushed towards the car and saw that veteran DXer and a person about whom I was hearing for many years, Mr. Babul Gupta, was running towards me ! I always imagined this person a very kind hearted and loving and my guess was proved during our first meeting. From there we reached Mandarmani beach side by 6:30 PM but as the water level was increased due to high tide we were forced to wait another two hours, at a beach side tea stall, to reach the camp. But that wait was very much productive for me as those veteran DXers were discussing about old but golden days of DXing and how interesting to know about those wonderful days of Indian DX Club International, the host of DXpedition at Mandarmani. We reached the Samudra Bilas hotel at 8:30 PM and it was really tiring journey full of new experiences but in next few days what I gained in that DXped camp, they were just amazing and most remarkable, a lifetime experience.
Indian Dx Club International was formed sometime in the seventies in Kolkata with members from all over India. Those days this famous club use to publish news letters on regular basis, organised DX meets, issues QSLs and many more. But due to several reasons, the club activities were discontinued until the club was revived with veterans and some energetic young Dxers in 2007. Since year 2009 this club is organising annual DXpeditions with its members participating with lots of enthuasim. The IDXC Mandarmani DXpeditions are being organised annually since 2009 and it was the third edition of MM DXped this year. Few DX enthusiasts of this club also did assembled in Talsari in 2009 for another DXpedition.
I was introduced to hobby of radio listening by one article published in the Assamese magazine “Jilingoni” written by Ashim Jyoti Ghosh. Since then I was listening to radio and revealing its wide spread reach through out the globe. Since then I came in touch with ace Dxers like Dr. Supratik Sanatani, Babul Gupta, Sudipta Ghose, Alokesh Gupta, Swopan Chakraborty, Partha Sarathi Goswami who are from east India. I visited Swopan Chakraborty’s house in 2010 and met PSG last year. And it was a dream of mine to some day attend a DXpedition of IDXC with fellow club members whom I know via correspondence but not physically and simply experts in this field. But I was really amazed that this time I not only met them but also shared views as well as hotel same rooms and radio shacks with these ace DXers!
The best thing about Mandarmani is that there is no any electricity in this village and so radio listening is a pleasure here. Only DG sets run between evening and midnight. Our DXpeditioners ran their equipments using battery power. Total 10 members of Indian DX Club International from West Bengal, Assam, Tripura and New Delhi participated in this year’s DXpedition. Swopan Chakraborty was always advising me that I must attend DXpedition at least to see the amazing DX tools. And the equipments used in MM3 like ICOM R75, R71, IC718, NRD 61 A, Perseus, Drake R8B, Sangean ATS-909, ANJAN DST-10 and many more receivers, antennas such as that wonderful 236 mtr long beverage, few different directional long wires, a dipole antenna brought by Babul Gupta, and few other equipments like MFJ antenna tuner and noise cancellers, etc. But the biggest surprise in Mandarmani was given by Sudipta Ghose, who brought a Perseus very much secretly and it was really ultimate for me……WOW !!, what an interesting assembly of DXing that was !! I was also attracted by the art of Babul Gupta who home brewed his own dipole antenna, baluns, splitters and other antenna equipments. I just thought that if I might be living in Kolkata and could visit Babul Gupta & Dr.Supratik Sanatani’s QTH off and on, then I might have learn more and many of my problem regarding antenna brewing would have been solved, for which I often irritate Swopan Chakraborty and PSG over phone !! So, using these DX gears and after three sleepless nights we found many success tracing the rare signals in the waves. Particularly those days the tropical bands were performing good and stations like Radio Cultura and few other Brazilian stations, Radio Tarma from Peru, CVC Zambia, RRI Palankaraya, Lao National Radio, Tajik Radio, Radio Djibouti, Radio Khartoum from Sudan, Radio Ethiopia, KOL Isreal, Cross Radio, stations from Chile, Radio Nikkei from Japan, tropical band stations from Australia, Indonesia and most interestingly few central Asian and European stations on Long Wave too were successfully logged during this DXpedition. My personal country logged in MM3 is 48, only via shortwave, which simply proves that shortwave is still alive and hope it’ll be there forever too. My surprise was those pirate medium wave stations operated by local broadcasters (locations of them we could not trace) which we logged here. They played mostly Bengali songs, radio drama and local advertisements and announcements, but they were coming as if they were operating just from the next door of our hotel room !!! I brought my newly purchased FujiFilm long zooming camera for photo shoot and my personal photography. And the beautiful landscape of Mandarmani has every ingredients for excellent photography too. I clicked few wonderful shots of my life time there including that MM3 members photos reflecting in Jyoti P Chakravorty’s Sun Glass !!!! And I met another great photographer in form of Dr. Supratik Sanatani, who does everything from his heart, be it listening to radio or catching subjects through his camera lens.
The main aim of this DXped was to bring more thrill to the life of each participating DXers and began a bond of friendship among the radio hobbyist and let the new DXers learn those golden days of DXing and learn about the technical aspects of radio listening with some practical hand and all these aims were very nicely achieved by Mandarmoni DXpedition Part three. I hope that the reviving Indian DX Club International will live long and beckon people of India to experience the beauty of life through the air waves !