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  • Writer's pictureVoita

Across Assam, day 2

The bus conductor wakes us up at five am, shouting 'Gauwati!', which, I learn later today, is the original pronunciation of the city's name. Out of habit I'm tracking our progress on a map, so the name swap doesn't confuse me and I roll off the bus into the early morning's cloud of smog at the right stop.

Brahmaputra / (British) Gate to Guwahati

fire brigade

To my surprise and joy, the bus stand offers luggage storage; a day for .40c. I at least get the shop minder, desperately scraping his memory for English words, a shot of tea. He's preparing to go to Switzerland. Like half of the nation, readying to go abroad. The second half is just about to start a business, and only missing the right investor.

we're in the same boat there 🤣

ferries (and a statue)

laundry & shower

I'm in the city centre before seven. Major mistake. There may be several dozen cafes, but none opens before 10:30 or 11. At least in the park the gatekeepers have mercy and let me in few hours early.

These episodes set pace for the entire morning: local planetarium spontaneously cancels the English showing, ferries to a famous temple on an island mid-river are cancelled due to high level of water in the broad Brahmaputra.

Gandhi pride

national pride

Between six AM and six PM, it's hot-wet. I count sweat in buckets, about one a minute. Nothing is made to absorb this, merino, synthetic, nopes. I could bring two or three day-worn shirts to the airport and have all the drug alarms go off against all the white crust in them. The day's rotation goes like so: Drowning in own sweat I barge into a store and settle in front of the AC unit, like a dog at a dinner table, complete with the tongue out of my mouth. There I lounge for 30 minutes to an hour, or until thrown out. Turns out, in certain establishments it's not allowed to idle, I need to be consuming. What a shameful swap of one national sport for another. Cooled down, my clothes turn into Nazca pictograms, as I leave the store.

ooh it's hot

I feel good for about a minute.

ooh it's hot

Seconds later sweat engulfs me again, like a malamute on holidays in California. Follows a tactical retreat back to the nearest climatised shop. Which, in a country where door is considered an imperialist extravagance, might take donkey hours.

park / island with a temple


In the afternoon I finally succeeded and, third time the charm, was allowed to see a small heritage centre. Locals used to be fishermen and weavers, who played drums and on flutes. Then, one day, the British discovered oil in one corner of the state... I at least went to see the city from bird's view up above, but it was mostly lost to a misty haze. A small price to pay for a rainless day.

heritage centre

And then back onto a bus and its swaying bed. Light and power socket are out of order, but the AC, the only thing that matters, works.

PS.: lights and power worked too, only they forgot to turn them until the morning 🤷‍♂️

map of Ganges & Brahmaputra / cab at 80% occupancy

Thali for dinner (notice the uniform colour?)

Day's tally: Several dozen openers "you from -?" One dude who asked, if I'm also looking for a ferry... and then where I'm from. The Indian mantra and for us recipients a torture, or meditation starter. Depends on the point of view.

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