British eclipse chaser robbed, still leaves Taregna smiling | patna | Hindustan Times
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British eclipse chaser robbed, still leaves Taregna smiling

patna Updated: Jul 24, 2009 17:11 IST
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Peter Toby, who had come to Bihar's Taregna village from Britain to watch the century's longest solar eclipse, lost his passport, money and all other valuables but still left with a smile after getting unexpected help from a priest who had given him shelter in his school.

The London-based computer programmer was unhappy on Wednesday morning as thick clouds hid the celestial spectacle that he had come so far to see. He was in for further disappointment when he returned to his room at the St Mary School.

"I was shocked to find everything -- my passport, Rs 8,000 and $30 in cash, and my ATM card -- missing from my bedroom. I had kept my purse under the pillow for safety but it was still stolen," Toby told IANS in Patna on Friday.

He filed a police complaint but was worried about how to reach the British High Commission in New Delhi without any money.

When St Mary School principal Father Jones heard of Toby's plight, he offered help.

"I gave him Rs 2,000 after I was informed about his genuine problem," the priest told IANS on phone.

"Before leaving for Patna to catch a train to New Delhi, Toby told me that he will not forget the help in his lifetime," he added.

Taregna, which attracted thousands of tourists after it was reported to be one of the best places to watch the eclipse, has neither a hotel or a guest house. Many of the visitors stayed at the St Mary School.

The Bihar government as well as the district administration had claimed to have made arrangement for housing at least 50 guests, including foreign tourists, at the local hospital. But not much help was at hand when tourists arrived.

Taregna has an ancient connection with astronomy, having been one of the two places used by sixth century Indian astronomer-mathematician Aryabhatta for his celestial studies.

SN Pandey, the man who discovered and highlighted Taregna's connection with Aryabhatta, said he failed to understand why the state tourism department missed a golden opportunity to promote tourism at the spot.