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Showing posts from January, 2014

The Village of Storytellers

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(I wrote this on a whim while waiting for my husband to pick me up from office, for womensweb.in. OF COURSE, the girls at womensweb.in were too sensible to publish it for their Muse of the Month section. My work of fiction is too amateur and lacks depth. But since I wrote it, I thought maybe I can put it up here. Kindly bear my figments of imagination.)




“We tell ourselves stories in order to live.”

He sighed as he spoke, rolling the tobacco leaves between his palms.

I looked at him, a wizened figure, deep lines criss-crossing his face. His rickety hut reeked of the strong tobacco that he smoked continuously. A buffalo skull with huge curved horns adorned the front of his door. He was the village headman, after all. 

We had stumbled upon this small conglomeration of tribal people deep in the jungles of the sprawling Okawi Wildlife Sanctuary, on our quest to map the presence and movement of the rare Pinata, a small passerine bird of Himalayan origin. Theirs was a world forgotten, untouc…

A Morning in Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary, Guwahati

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I have spent most of my life in Guwahati, and yet I never ventured towards Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary. I think we still had that nobody-can-come-close-to-Manas hangover and could not imagine any wildlife flourishing near such a busy city as Guwahati. “Pobitora is for city slickers who have never seen real wildlife,” we would scoff and offer Pobitora as a sight-seeing option to anyone who asked what was there to see in Guwahati. And so it continued, our feigned attitude towards Pobitora, till the time we became city slickers ourselves, a breed we had looked upon with contempt. You see, what goes around comes around.

This time, when I went home to Guwahati in December 2013, I gulped down all my previous proclamations and made way for Pobitora with my parents on a cold, misty, pre-dawn morning. The changes in the city brought over a ponderous mood but thankfully, the gloomy clouds of my mind lifted with the appearance of the sun. A sumptuous hot breakfast in a resort just at the entranc…

Magh Bihu reminisces...

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It is that time of the year again – feasting and making merry! My favourite festival, no wonder. Magh Bihu, also known as Bhogali Bihu, is close to every Assamese’s heart and I am sure everyone has his/her own fond memories to tell. And I have loads! Let me take a deep breath, now…

Magh Bihu to me has always been about my maternal grandmother or Aita. Since Aita lived with her two sons, whom we called dangor mama (elder uncle) and xoru mama (younger uncle), her four daughters who had been married off to distant corners of Assam would troop in for Bihu, their families in tow. I can still hear the multitude of chatter and laughter resounding through the large mansion with every new arrival. 

There would be elaborate preparations for Uruka, the feast on the eve of Bihu. Huge mounds of straw would be brought over to make the bhela ghor, a temporary hut where communal feasting takes place and then lit at dawn. Our gang of younger cousins would revel among the straw mounds and make our own …

Some ruminations enroute Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary

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Where have the hills disappeared?

This was my thought as I looked around me in disbelief, on our way to Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary. I knew Guwahati had changed. It had always been a congested city, given its importance among the 6 north-eastern states. A gateway to NE India, that’s how Guwahati is described. As I wiped down the misty car window glasses on a cold December morning, all I could see around me were looming apartment towers. The hills had been ‘cut down’. Or strangled by a burgeoning population that had taken over entire hill-sides. Who are these people? I winced as the car moved along, the dust and the fog intertwined. And then, just as despair was about to set in, there came into view this beautiful stretch of teak forest. I opened the windows and let the air in. And as if on cue, faint rays of sunlight streamed in through the canopy of trees. The world was alright, again. 




The yellow fields of Punjab

That’s what I was reminded of as I looked at the golden yellow fields o…