Dont know why, but for some reason had been looking forward to this trip to Guwahati for a long time. Could it be the Ma's pull, was very keen to visit the Kamakhya temple and wished for nothing more,but little did I know that the quaint little town would have so much to offer in terms of warmth!
The Guwahati Airport is truly non-discript. Bigger than the Dibrugarh airport, the only other that I had been to in Assam,one comes out into the taxi stand almost as soon as one is out of the airport, right into a waiting taxi that took us to Kamakhya enroute to hotel Blue Moon in Uzanbazar. The winding hilly roads to the temple was exciting as the cool sharp winds that tingled my nerves.
The panda's at the temple were a bother, but fortunately for me, i had been booked by one of my students mother with a panditji of repute to be guided through the rituals of the puja at the feet of the diety. The high security at the temple initially made me wonder if my student's mom was really as influential to make security arrangements for me aswell until I reached inside and was awed by the celebrity visitor- Kiran Bedi! The prayer offering at the feet of the God left me deeply satisfied and I left the temple with a sense of supreme accomplishment.
Hotel Blue Moon was a major let down, the dark blue curtains and bed spread made the room look small and uncomfortable, and I truly looked around for the remote possibility of the three star treatment they boasted of!
The Pan bazar and the Fancy Bazar were more or less similar, the pan bazar had loads of book shops catering to students, intersperesed with other shops aswell. The Fancy Bazar is more commercial, some shpos sell typical Mumbai stuff too! Thanks to Jonali who told me about Kalpataru, I was able to find an assam silk after my heart the very first day!
During the 2 day MBA Fair, I interacted with a lot of students, the general impression that I was able to gather was that they wanted to move out of their land to greener pastures else where, but I could also note in their voice the great pride for their own land and its culture.
The serene Bramhaputra river as I saw it yields huge amounts of fish that is the livestock of the fisher men there. My early morning jaunt into the river side showed me the most amazing suuply chain management that well versed MBA students would envy! Right from the river into the noisy market, the fish would move in a huge basket like relay race. From one hand to the other, the basket would move from the boat to the market where high bidding for the bhoreli fish happens. I was most amazed to watch the alacrity of the carriers as they moved the fishes deftly towards the market. The evening ferry ride to the little island which housed the Uma-Nandan Mandir was delightful. The temple which shows us the union of Parvati and Shiv as mythology would have us belive. The setting sun in the backdrop of the huge river was something my little cam could do no justice to. It was awesome!
My meeting with Dr. Bharati Sharma, the vice Principal of The Cotton college was memorable. A very warm person, after our little official talk was willing to help me in all ways to take back home a slice of the ethnic North East. She directed me to the most wonderful shop for quick shoppers,The River People in the Barawari Bazar. They had ethnic handlooms and craft from all over the North East. Slightly high priced, nonetheless, a lovely shop for the ethnic in me!
I woke up to my birthday in thsi strange city and packed to leave for the airport, eager to spend the special day with my son back home in Mumbai, nevertheless disinclined to leave this beautiful city which had much more to offer in terms of warmth and love.