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Guwahati, Assam!

Phina So
February17/ 2019

This blog I write about my trip to Guwahati. Along with photos, I will try to write as much as I can to introduce you to a far away land, yet it is so welcoming! While on the flight from Kolkata, I sat next to Tara, Indonesian dancer and poet on my left. We start our friendship since then. On my left hand, there was a gentleman in his 60s, patiently listened to our conversation. He could had noticed that we are visitors. Later, he gave me roasted peanuts and then helped me with small notes. He later wished that we would enjoy India. The kindness left me a very good impression and I was very much looking forward to the experience.

Guwahati is the name of the largest city and urban area in Assam state, the Northern province bother with Bhutan, Bangladesh, and other Northern states of India. In the morning and evening the weather is cold. I have to say that the traffic is really bad. I was patient most of the time with the driver. At one point, I could not stand anymore when he almost hit four people who were enjoying their conversation and walk. He should had stop for 10 seconds and let them walk pass without having to worry about car hitting them. We all should respect and appreciate those who choose to walk. I think they honks too much too and most of the time not necessary. Somehow, while in the car, I kept thinking why can’t people just go slow a bit with life and enjoy the air!!! Besides the traffic, all is good.

Two cruises along the Brahmaputra river (Photo: SO Phina)

The below photo is the Brahmaputra river. As told by the volunteers, it is the only male river in India. It is interesting, right? Later, I’ve learned that the river’s name mean ‘son of Brahma’. Also, it is quite familiar with the Khmer language as well. We say ‘Preah Prum’ means ‘God Brahma’ and Botra for Putra. Botra and Putra means the same thing. It means ‘son’. In Khmer, we mostly use Botra in literary language because it is a high language.

The river is a major river in Asia that flows across China, India, and Bangladesh. Originates from Tibet, the river provides livelihood to many people. We were lucky to visit the basin of the river as it gives the name to the Brahmaputra Literary Festival. I forgot to bring my books. Otherwise, I would have some photograph of my books next to the river.

Brahmaputra River (Photo: SO Phina)

I really like this photo (below)! The hill that I visited is called Gandhi Mandal where there is the biggest India flag hanged on the top of the hill. There is a statue of walking Mahatma Gandhi next to the flag pole. I was told that Mahatma Gandhi actually went there in real.

From the hill, we could see the Brahmaputra River, the little island, and a railway station where connects to many states. While I was there, Chheangly, Phal, and Meas had already left. There was only me and the four volunteers.

Guwahati town seen from Gandhi Mandal (Photo: SO Phina)
The flag is the tallest flag of all over India (Photo: SO Phina)

Another experience was having Assamese cuisine. The four of us was invited to dinner at our new lovely friend Udangshree Kachary on the 10th February (second day of the festival). Only about 5 minute drive, we arrived at Udang’s house where we met her mother and little brother who is very shy. The dinner was served with a separate dish with four different dishes. One of the dishes was ‘fried chicken’ which we liked most as it made us feel the taste from home for the first time in three days in India. Since it is spicy, its taste is like our ‘Hot Fried Chicken’. The eggplant dish was also something that is quite similar to Khmer dish. What is different from the way the dinner is served is that we Cambodians would have all the dishes in bowls and have them in the middle of the table where eaters can share all of them. After dinner, we each had a green tea which was so nice.

The dish at Udang’s house (Photo: SOK Chanphal)

Another experience was at the Heritage Khorikaa, Authentic Assamese Restaurant. I was told by another Assamese friend, Basumatary Araiswrang, Assamese people eat with their right hand even in restaurant. I wanted to tried. Through I write this, it does not mean that I never eat with my hand. Long times ago, Khmer people eat with our hands too! I believe that the French colony changed our way of eating. Till these days, I still eat with my hand at home. However, I only eat with my hand with dried dishes, not with soup. Also, whenever I eat with hand, I don’t only use right hand but both hands lolzzz. At one point, I realised that not a single of the volunteers use any of their left hand even a single bit. I needed to ask. Pranjit told that some left handed people can use their left hand. I was struggle a bit when I stopped using my left hand lolzzz. It was a really nice experience though.

The dish is called Thali, the traditional Assamese food. There is a bowl of rice in the middle. The side dishes were Dals, mashed potatoes, mixed vegetable, and Kha. I had to follow what locals do. First, we need to take away the side dishes aside. While the rice is placed on the tray, we can pour all these dishes on the rice and then mix well with rice so that we can eat.

Traditional Assamese Dish called Thali (Photo: SO Phina)
Amlan, Pranjit, me, Rimpi, and Deboleena with Thali, traditional Assamese dish.
Assam State Museum (Photo: SO Phina)
(Photo: SO Phina)
A lamp pole and flower outside of Balaji Temple

While in Assam, at least three Assamese friends were with me in spirit. They wanted to make sure that I am safe and have good time there. Thanks for the friendship.