Reality

Assam for Dummies

I have travelled to most of the big cities of India except Hyderabad. The one thing that is common in these places of the “mainland” India is that people have very little idea about Assam or the North-East in general.

I remember when I was in Mumbai a few years back, this Marathi auto driver asked me where I was from. When I said Guwahati, he asked, “Is that close to Delhi?”
I replied, “Na, bhai, it’s in Bihar.”

Similarly, when I was in Bangalore another time, this engineer asked me, “Is it true that a bomb goes off almost every other day in Assam?”
I wanted to say, “Oh yes, and I am the ghost of Bob Marley who died when he mistook a few sticks of dynamite for pot-enthused sausages.”
Alas, I just muttered, “Haha, no.”

Then there was the time when I was in Delhi when an acquaintance of one of my friends remarked, “You know, you speak really good Hindi for an Assamese. And you look nothing like aย chinki.”
I said nothing. I just made a face like I was getting ready to fart.

Finally, when I was in Chennai three years back, a taxi driver asked me, “Sir, is Assam in Guwahati? And do you need passport to go there?”
Again, I said nothing, and coughed and pretended to sneeze before making my trusted fart face.

As for Kolkata, the bongs are okay. They know we exist. It is possible that the reason may be mainly because many of their relatives live over here. We are also practically neighbours, connected by the goose neck. So not knowing about us would be embarrassing, I suppose.

Now, you would wonder why I am writing all this. Trust me, this is not a rant against all those imbeciles I have had the misfortune to meet during my travels. Such idiots exist everywhere. Assamese folks aren’t all that different. For instance, if you speak Hindi in front of an Assamese bloke, he will instantly assume you are from Bihar. Even if you tell him that you belong from UP or Rajasthan, he will not be convinced. Instead, he will produce ten reasons to prove that you belong from Bihar.ย Moreover, if you are a Bengali Muslim, a typical Assamese would automatically assume you are an illegal Bangladeshi immigrant, even if your family has been living here for more than a century.

Therefore, stupidity is a common disease throughout the country. And this post is not about stupidity.

In this post, I want to share some pictures of Assam that will give you a glimpse into this wonderful place I call home. They might also hopefully entice you to visit us someday. Oh and these photographs are fairly representative of the actual thing. That’s because I’m neither a photographer, nor do I have any Photoshop skills. So I lack the ability to find something beautiful where none exist. Moreover, I don’t own any expensive camera equipment. These photos were clicked on my phone and on a fairly cheap point-and-shoot camera I used to own. Since I have mentioned this point, I would like to apologise in advance for the poor quality of some of these images. Some of the pictures are quite old.
The college where I studied. Such cloudy sights are common during the monsoon season, as it rains a lot over here.
The college where I studied. Such cloudy sights are common during the monsoon season, as it rains a lot over here.
A typical sunset on the banks of the river Brahmaputra in Guwahati. (This place is called Kharguli, and is one of the best places to hang out)
A typical sunset on the banks of the river Brahmaputra in Guwahati. (This place is called Kharguli, and is one of the best places to hang out)
You can get on one of these ferries and visit one of the many river islands. If I am not wrong Majuli is the largest river island in the world. (Please Google Majuli)
You can get on one of these ferries and visit one of the many river islands. If I am not wrong Majuli is the largest river island in the world. (Please Google Majuli)
Does seeing the Great one-horned Indian rhino excite you? Then visit the Kaziranga National Park.
Does seeing the Great one-horned Indian rhino excite you? Then visit the Kaziranga National Park.
What to do when a wild elephant confronts you? "Stay silent and don't make sudden moves," according to our guide. (another Kaziranga pic)
What to do when a wild elephant confronts you?
“Stay silent and don’t make sudden moves,” according to our guide. (another Kaziranga pic)
This swamp deer says Hi.
This swamp deer says Hi.
You can stay at one of these houses in Kaziranga. They have no electricity, and during a moonless night, you can find your way from the light of the stars. Trust me this is an amazing experience.
You can stay at one of these houses in Kaziranga. They have no electricity, and during a moonless night, you can find your way from the light of the stars. Trust me this is an amazing experience.
Assam used to be known for its oil long back. The British founded the oil town Digboi more than a hundred years ago (the name came from the phrase, "Dig boy, dig.")
Assam used to be known for its oil long back. The British founded the oil town Digboi more than a hundred years back (the name came from the phrase, “Dig, boy, dig.”)
A British era Bungalow in Digboi.
A British era Bungalow in Digboi.
This is the view I wake up to every morning.
This is the view I wake up to every morning.
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74 thoughts on “Assam for Dummies

  1. Whoa. It seems interesting! (I usually find things interesting but I’m honest about it!) That deer was so cute! I was thinking of doing a pictures post of some of the places I’ve been to.
    But now I’ve got another place added to my insha Allah impending world tour (whenever that decides to happen)
    You wake up to such pretty refreshing green! I’ll be honest, my window shows the back garden ๐Ÿ˜› and it’s green too ๐Ÿ˜€ but rather tame.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha in sha Allah aapka world tour ho jayega jald ๐Ÿ™‚
      Yes, isn’t it beautiful? It stopped to look at us for some time before darting away.
      Yeah I love the view. The greenery and the tea gardens etc ๐Ÿ™‚
      Do a pictures post. And thank you for your honest and interesting comments

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Aapkay safar naamay parh kay lagta hai uss jagah hi ho kar agaye hon.
    Amazing piece of writing this is. And that deer is so cute. Just look at its gleaming black eyes!
    The photography skills though, you just need to improve the way you frame your photographs, baaqi kher hai. ๐Ÿ™‚ [itni unusual sights ki tasweeren lena hi bara kaam hai.]
    Btw.. I wish I could see that star lit sky, must be haseen.
    Thanks for a whole new pile of information, I never knew much about these places, ‘cept the names of five famous cities. And hey, do visit hyderabad and write a safarnama. I want to read a new one cause I’ve learnt the one that my dad keeps telling me.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Mahaah. Aapne toh hadd se zyada taareef kar di.
      Haha, yeah, I guess I am too lazy for that stuff. Photography is about dedication.
      Oh I remember that vividly. At first I couldn’t even see my hands in front of me. It was so dark. Then slowly my eyes adjusted and the starlight became bright enough for me to see clearly. Oh and I once saw the Milky Way in Kaziranga, the first time in my life. That was some experience.
      You are welcome. Yes, Hyderabad is due soon. This year end or next year early in sha Allah.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha. I’ll quote my friend here, “That’s alright, at least you lived the moment” ๐Ÿ™‚ [because I’m always busy taking photos. And its worth it. I save them. But then, that moment slips outta hands, quite often.]

        Liked by 1 person

      2. They sure are. I’ll quote a character here, (cause reference lamba hojaega) “life me kuch na kuch tou miss karna hi parta hai, ek saath sab kuch nahi kiya jasakta – aur na hi paya jasakta hai.” Something like that she said. But it hit home.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Maria. That stay in that house was a once in a lifetime experience. During the night, we could hear wild animals roaming outside the perimeter.
      And woh elephant jab dikha and the guide told us to shut up, my stupid phone started ringing. I picked it up and my HOD was screaming “Where the bloody hell are you Ershad? Who gave you leave?”

      Like

      1. It was brilliant. We had a bonfire and everything. It was really cold (January, I think). So good environment and good company under the stars. Picturesque to honest ๐Ÿ™‚

        Like

  3. stupidity is a common disease throughout the country.
    Correction: Stupidity is a common disease that has spread all over the planet. XD

    Ohkay so anyway this post was interesting and the pictures aren’t of bad quality AT ALL.
    If you want to know what bad quality is,I would be happy to tutor you. ๐Ÿ˜›

    The second pic is the best. ๐Ÿ˜€ Where did you take it from? A high place it seems like..
    By the way,tell the dear I said Hi.Just look at the glow in the curiosity in the deerโ€™s eyes. ๐Ÿ™„
    The view YOU wake up to every morning.So green,looks lovely and refreshing! (:
    Have you taken pictures of in the night? If you have some picture of the moon or the night sky do share.I like taking pictures of the moon ^^’ but they sometimes are nothing but disappointment. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, your correction stands ๐Ÿ˜‰
      But thank you so much.
      And I am grateful for your offer but I think I’ll skip those tutorial classes ๐Ÿ˜€
      Yes, itโ€™s from the road along the bank of the river. The road snakes up a small hill of sorts. Hence the elevation.
      Btw those deers are very common here. And yes that view is precisely the reason why I love my current lodgings ๐Ÿ™‚
      I had taken a few night time pictures, but they came out so dark that people might think I am fooling them with some weird abstract art.
      Oh yes, I saw that post of yours where you so eloquently described your struggles to click the picture of the moon.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Welcome. ๐Ÿ˜€
        Hmm your choice :p they are free you know. ๐Ÿ™„ Hhaha.

        Haha maybe that abstract ART may get famous you never know. XD
        Haha you read that post? It was my first one,I took alot of pictures actually.I have this habit of taking atleast two or three pictures of a scene.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Haha, free hai toh I might think ๐Ÿ˜›
        Nah, I don’t think so. hehe
        Oh yes, I did read that. It was an intriguing post and there was this suspense whether you succeeded or not. The photo you uploaded showed that you did.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Excellent post. Interesting that ignorance is a global disorder. Few people realize the diversity of India’s climate and culture. Least of all was Alexander who failed to cope … It is a cradle of civilization, one which few seem to realize, even those who live there, they do not see beyond the boarders of their lives !

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for sharing the beauty of Assam to this dummy.
    I was laughing so hard at the sarcastic responses you gave to them. Ohhh and the Delhi stereotyping Assam is so true. Sadly. When Arnab Goswami turned out to be Assamese, people were left confused. So you were spot on with the stupidity disease. It is much more infectious than malaria.
    I am not a photographer myself so I really enjoyed your photos and have no clue why you blabbered a paragraph on low quality images.
    You brought back memories of my geography classes in year 9. Studied of Guwahati and Kaziranga National Park.And I always wished to go to the latter and Jim Corbett PArk. Those two are the only National Parks I recall from the list that I had to cram and subsequently barf on exam paper. And hence I am real glad you showed picks of the gorgeous animals at the comfort of my own home. That deer’s innocent expression is so frickin cuttee!!!
    And you know what, we did study of digbois as well and our class would be hooting it out like Dig Boy Dig Boy!! whenever our teacher said it. It sounds crazy to type and read now but what would you expect of year 9 neanderthals really? And so when you said that the name actually did come from Dig Boy I was like whaat??? We were right. And silently hooted Dig Boy Dig Boy!!
    The end.
    PS I shall be visiting Assam now. For tea and the deer.And for star gazing. Soo many places to vsit on my bucket list. The beauty of Mother Earth doesn’t cease to exist and neither does my overgrowing list.
    Assam truly is a place of beauty. I love the sunrise pic and your view. Officially jealous. I wake up to my backyard which has a lemon tree so I guess its not too bad of a consolation prize.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Aaliyah! I really appreciate this.
      I don’t enjoy being sarcastic, but sometimes it’s the last resort.
      And I don’t blabber, okay? This is pristine, eloquent prose on my inability to acquire the superior talent of photography ๐Ÿ˜› (I don’t know why I used pristine)
      Yes, there are so many animals. The tiger is the only animal that has eluded me on my safaris till now.

      The story of Digboi is interesting. The British were laying railway tracks with the help of elephants. One day during night time, someone noticed the light from the bonfire glistening on one of the elephant’s feet. On closer enquiry they discovered it was oil. So the British then instructed the workers to dig that place which led to the first oil well discovery in India. And yes, you folks were right ๐Ÿ™‚
      Do visit Assam. It’s really beautiful. And baki North-East wale states bhi.
      Oh, and a lemon tree is not bad ๐Ÿ˜›

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My pleasure ๐Ÿ™‚
        I actually really love sarcasm. Its dead humour in the sense you can be badtameez without being rude.
        Lol yeah, your pristine eloquent orational writing skills keep me in awe ๐Ÿ˜›
        Are you sure its you who is evading the tigers and not the other way around? Lol
        Wow learning new stuff each day. It certainly is interesting. Thanks for sharing.
        I will be visiting Assam soon in sha Allah and you know why ๐Ÿ˜› I wish to travel the world as in New York Paris London and all but really India with its 29 states and 7 territories will take my whole lifetime to explore. Because every state has its culture, language and traditional differences that I would love to explore.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Haha, pristine indeed ๐Ÿ˜›
        Hmm, arz kiya hai (by my friend Ansarul)
        Sher sunne mein maza aata hai, sher sunane mein maza aata hai
        Lekin jab asil sher saamne aata hai, toh aage se (okay that part is censored)

        Anyhoo, your plans sound great! Do write an account of your world bhraman ๐Ÿ˜›

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I bet almost 90% Indians can’t even name the seven sisters of the North East! Most of the time even here in Calcutta, people look at the North Eastern people as foreigners. It must be really irritating having to look so beautiful and different and being regarded as a non-Indian, hence.

    And you aren’t such a bad photographer! You don’t need to be a Clark Little (Google him. Astounding skill set.) to garner praise. Or did you just write all that about your photography so that we in turn start praising you? ๐Ÿ˜‰ You know lowering expectations and then producing above average results so that the response is phenomenal? :p

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t mind people not knowing something. Ignorance is acceptable. Prejudice is not.

      Haha, you see right through me. So did my trick work? ๐Ÿ˜›

      P.S. I checked the little guy and his work is seriously good. Thanks for mentioning.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I read your post ystrday and wrote a along comment and while I was about to press send button, my windows restarted with out a warning! I hate this windows 8! ๐Ÿ˜ฆ btw it was about ystrday! i liked your post as always ,your notes of humor with highlighting serious flaws in our Indian thinking are always worth praising. My late grandfather(maternal) used to travel often to Guwahati and Shillong for his work and he used to tell how beautiful it is.Lovely place it is ! and whenever i will get a chance ,will definitely visit it!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh yeah I hate that too. I also hate it when you’ve typed like a long comment and you accidentally close the browser before hitting submit. Yes you get the tabs back, but the comment gets lost.

      Thanks for appreciating though, Sana.

      And I would like to mention that Shillong is probably my favourite place on earth. If I had like truck loads of money and political connections and there was no law against non-tribals owning land in Shillong, my dream would have been to buy some property over there and live my twilight years there. Everything about Shillong is beautiful. Do visit ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  8. You make a face before you fart??? Oh my gosh, what do you do in an elevator?? Then how can you point out at the first person and say “He did it!!” ??
    Beautiful place and beautiful pics.. like I said, your offer to exchange places is accepted. You come down here to MRPL and I’ll go there ๐Ÿ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You mean you’ve never done it? There are too many types of fart, man. Okay I’m not talking about this any more. Everyone thinks I’m the guy they should talk to if one looks for advice on fart and poo. I’m done. You can consider my ass retired from now on. Oh man, not ass. Gluteus maximus.

      Haha, sure ๐Ÿ˜€
      But in all seriousness, don’t forget to visit Shillong too. I’ll hopefully do a Shillong post in the future.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Had friends there.. a tribal with lots of lands in that place.. he invited me over during the college days (he had spent eight years in BE… so yeah, quite a fellow, kis-ore you most kome to moi place, better ‘grass’ on that hill) hahaha..
        Sent my mom and dad there though.. they enjoyed it.. except my mom had the idiocy to take along her brother and his exalted wife who cribbed all the way that it was beautiful but exhausting (that lady is two decades younger than my mom)..
        My dream project for some day.. to spend a few weeks in the North East (as long as I am not killed for being a suspected settler hahaha.. I love the place.. and I am sure I’d fit in… except, no sea ๐Ÿ˜ฆ and I cannot do without the sea.. )

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Haha, don’t worry about missing the sea. The hills and mountains would keep you occupied. There are some places, especially in Mizoram, where you are like driving on a hilly road overlooking a valley and suddenly clouds totally cover the valley. So you feel like you are floating over a white sea. (Speaking of Mizoram, do visit Champhai)
        Btw eight years in BE is epic.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yeah… and get this… in Civil engg hahahaha… and his father is some well-known architect and builder from those parts.. Sigh***
        Yeah, I would like to visit that place some day.. but like I said.. at my own pace and my terms.. not packaged holidays of any sort.. I want to enjoy it, not just visit and forget.. ๐Ÿ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Yes, a complete weirdo.. but sort of likeable.. I mean.. no one really liked him and he was always disheveled and shabby. I guess I felt sorry for him and I liked his quirky sense of humour. Except, he would be quite irritating at times too. No one else tolerated him and he would hang on to me like a puppy, always. But slowly people got to know him because he was always around me. I still feel sorry for him, actually. The last time I spoke to him, I yelled at him calling him a useless no-good son of a …. I do hope he eventually made it past the BE endpoint..

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Haha, engineering always throws up some great personalities on your face. We had one who got five backlogs on average every semester. As far as I know, he didn’t clear his BE. He was famously known for preparing some mean joints though haha.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. I know, the same with Cooper.. he was famous for that.. hahaha.. and then my friend Shashi.. and I hope I do not offend you with this little offensive joke from my eccentric friend Shashi…

        He ruined the entire college. That fellow, Shashi. Even kids who used to complain about us bad boys that we drank and smoked were finally hooked on to weed… He would roll his paper and people would listen to his non-stop bambaiyya nonsense, just staring at his fingers.. One day in the college park.. this guy is fuming about the Mughal invasion of India and the turn of history. “Yeh saala, mughal aa gaya.. ya-bak.. bas, India khatam!!… saala, yeh-ich log India ko maar daala.. ” and everyone nods wisely at the sage, as he crushes the burnt hash and mixes it with tobacco..and .. he rants about the ills of the country.
        “Yeh sab saala laandiya log ko maar dalne ka..re.. ”
        And I look at him in alarm.. frantically trying to make him shut up…
        “Kya, KT? Sach hai..yaar.. sab saala laandiya log ko maar daalne ka.. kya bolta hai, Zahid??”
        And this huge giant of a John Abraham character nods thoughtfully, not taking his eyes from the deft fingers..and growls.. “Sahi bolta hai, Shashi”
        We laughed and laughed and laughed… Damned idiots..

        By the way, never could stand that stuff.. of course, I was the bad boy, booze and ciggies.. but I put my foot down at that.. not being pious, but I hate things that can take over my senses.. (mind you, booze comes close to that.. but not a total senselessness hehe always need to be in control)..

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Haha, that was a funny story. That Shashi character is ubiquitous though. God forbid if he gets his hands on the nashe-waali cheezen. Then the whole discourse turns to English (what is it with English and drunks and weed high morons?).

        We even had (or still have I’m not sure) here, in our township. He is from a noble profession by the day and a philosopher by the nights of the weekends. Oh you should hear him discuss the various facets of monetary policy over phone all night at the top of his voice. In English. Truly enlightening.

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Hahaha…. by noble profession, you don’t mean Medicine, right? It ceased being noble a long time ago haha..
        and yes, philosophy for sure.. I can remember the times they used to come to visit me and sit on the beach all night, talking nonsense about everything.. but you know what? I am always amazed at their capacity to think.. and uncommon thoughts at that. I hate those serious, arm-chair philosophers who bore you to death. That never happened with these weirdos… always something interesting and the depth of their knowledge, astounding.. of course, not Marcel Proust and all that.. but certainly about science, astronomy, history, politics, poetry (but not poetics), trivia from every sort of source.. and the astounding thing was.. my place became sort of an Adda.. students from all branches.. even doctors, post-grads from the University.. hotel management kids (the idiots of the lot hehe).. architecture students.. all kinds.. and trust me, every single day I used to host at LEAST twenty people who used to sit up on the beach and sing and talk and debate and fool around.. the best years of my life.. also some of the worst, but ah, who remembers those ๐Ÿ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  9. โ€œSir, is Assam in Guwahati? And do you need passport to go there?โ€ – Epic. Thanks, good for people like us who might never be able to come there due to visa problems.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for visiting. Yeah, hopefully I will be able to write more posts on Assam. The ignorance regarding the Northeastern India among Indians is frankly astounding. So I don’t blame outsiders if they haven’t heard of this place.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Its a pleasure and it would be nice also to know more updates on the AFSP related situation and only insiders can highlight the issues. I heard of Assam in 2005 when I was at a regional conference and in past I collaborated with an Assam activist for activist writings, few on my blog if you are interested at http://wp.me/p2Mxgu-Yl and http://wp.me/p2Mxgu-XT
        Will look forward to more stories on your blog, regards.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. AFSPA’s ill effects are mainly confined to Manipur in north-east India. You may have heard about Irom Sharmila, who has been on a hunger strike for the last fifteen years trying to get the Indian government to repeal the Act. I don’t know any first hand stories from Assam as we haven’t faced anything like that.

        Thanks for the links. I will check them out for sure.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Thanks a lot for reviewing those links its thanks to SAARC events and also Dr.Anju that I learned of Manipur and Irom Sharmila. The world needs to know of these ill doings for behind these politics there is grave human suffering.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. You are welcome. A few years back I worked with a guy from Kashmir where AFSPA is a big concern. One of the “less harsh” things he said about the atrocities committed by the Armed Forces under the guise of AFSPA was that there are hardly any males from his village who weren’t given a beating or two by the Army over their lifetimes, or any females who weren’t eve-teased. Of course, I can’t confirm the veracity of his claims. However, what his words showed was the bleak kind of image people have of the Army. And such an image doesn’t form easily considering how much respect people offer to defence personnel.
        I suppose the situation is similar in Manipur.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. This is so horrifying, just thinking that our people living a daily life with that sort of hell is enough to make blood boil. I have heard and experienced similar issues on this side of Kashmir where military is viewed no less then how you describe. I also know that there is some truth on the reports of media personal going missing or “other such unpleasantness.” Obviously living a life with daily violence and uncertainty under regime baton is not good for Kashmir, Manipur and other such areas.

        Like

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