I usually refrain from first-person posts about myself. Short stories and fan-fiction are my comfort zones. I like being anonymous and essay my compositions on daily experiences, cooking and people I know. This time, however, I am being forced to write about myself, and more so on Assam, my home.
Growing up in a boarding school in the cool, calm hills of Darjeeling did little to kindle my curiosity to explore Assam. I was more intrigued with the Himalayas – their grandeur, the snow-capped peaks in the distance, the gleaming blue autumn skies. I was addicted to the chilly North Bengal air and grabbed as much of it as I could during my 12 years there. I moved to Noida, then Delhi for higher education, prolonging my illiteracy on Assam. I could speak Assamese but never write it. However, I had learnt to read some common alphabets which helped me understand a few words. I travelled all over the country by the time I started work in Bangalore. I had ticked off Mumbai, Pune, Chennai and Chandigarh by that time.
In my second year of work, I decided to call it quits. I needed a break to address a few problems back home and escape the growing heat and dissatisfaction in Gurgaon. I headed home. I wanted to cycle across the rural countryside, explore the small roads that laced the hills. It was raining when I landed in Guwahati, a pleasant 22 degrees. North India, meanwhile, was boiling away at a few notches below 50!
The area around my home is relatively quiet. Jagiroad is a town not many would have heard of, unless you look it on the map. But small towns like these are the primary political and economic hubs of Assam. The residents here never miss a voting day. Moreover, Jagiroad had Asia’s largest dry fish market. As a result, the place stank up quite a lot on trading days. It is best to avoid the local shopping area on Thursdays, if you do not want to be washing the horrible smell from your clothes.
My interest lay in the newly constructed express highway connecting Guwahati to another one of Assam’s larger towns, Nagaon or Nowgown as the local call it. Early morning there is hardly much traffic on the road and my cycling excursions begin. I bought a 7-gear mountain bike to help me navigate the tricky climbs. It was a joy to roam the countryside, leaving all my worries behind for the entire trip. The rains had cast a fabulous aura and draped the surrounding hills with thick rainclouds. The ponds were brimming with water lilies and the green grass sparkled against the grey tar roads. What a contrast it was from the brown, rain-parched landscape in the north.
It is really easy to forget how beautiful our world is and it upsets me that perhaps I took a little too long to see more of it. But it’s better late than never and home is where I begin. I solemnly swear that I am up for more travelling! And it starts here, at home!
PS: I am planning a trip to Cherrapunji next week, and I will try and upload more pictures and travel hotspots from there.