Although not known to many, the tongue-twisting ' Tenualosa Ilisha ', is the real name of the mouth-watering hilsa fish which occupies an undisputed position in the Bengali heart. Belonging to the herring clan, the hilsa enjoys marine life, although it spawns in the estuarine waters where the rivers, after meandering its way through deep mangrove forests empty into the Bay of Bengal . The fish thereafter, slowly travels up the Ganges in India and the Padma river in Bangladesh to be caught and eaten as a much sought-after food delicacy. The fish of Bangladeshi origin, is supposed to have an edge over its Indian counterpart not only because it is tastier and tangier, but being the 'national fish ' of the country it enjoys an enviable position. With the banning of export of this diva of a fish from the shores of Bangladesh, its hilsa has become a coveted food item, much envied by its cousin next door!!
From a very young age, Captain Rajesh had fallen in love with hilsa, the undeclared cultural 'icon 'of the Bengalis. The strong, distinctive taste of what the French call 'poisson', made the Captain yearn for the fish over every other thing. His craving was such, that if given the opportunity, he could have survived on it all his life - be it steamed, baked, fried or roasted !!He was fine with the Indian version,until his taste buds sampled the delectable flesh of the luscious hilsa hottie netted from the fast flowing River Padma! He now started looking for opportunities to fly into the neighbouring country where he could feast to his heart's content on the wonderful gastronomic delight. Once in a while, Rajesh thoughtfully shared his happiness with his near and dear ones, by smuggling the famed fish in his hand baggage.
All was well until the beginning of this month, when Rajesh had the good luck to travel for the umpteenth time to his favourite destination.He had as usual, asked his contact out there, to get him a jumbo hilsa and hand the ice-pack surreptitiously to one of the crew members of the Dhaka-Kolkata flight which he was piloting. But alas! just when the 'fishy' parcel was about to exchange hands, it caught the sharp eyes of a Bangladeshi security personnel. This led to questioning and more questioning of the hapless boy,who had the misfortune to be the carrier of the suspicious packet. When the interrogation revealed that it belonged to the pilot of the airbus, who had by then come out in the open to argue his case with the officials, matters went out of control. There was on one hand,the strict security guy refusing to listen to the hilsa buff, who found himself at the receiving end for breaking the law, on the other side, the irate passengers were grumbling and shouting to know why the flight was not taking off ? While all this was going on, the ATC held back the clearance, and the pilot with egg on his face ,forgot to sign the necessary documents before entering into the cockpit!!