Monday, June 13, 2011

Shillong-Ludhiana Roadtrip - The green fields of Assam

It's surprising how a day of driving can tire you out. After all, you're just sitting the whole day moving just a few muscles at irregular intervals. But at the end of each day of driving, I found myself just too tired to put down the days activities on the blog. I would open the 'new post' page and then promptly fall asleep. So my plan of 'live-blogging' our trip has changed slightly (like many other things on the trip!) and I start the story with a time lapse of 5 days. This has been a great adventure so far and I hope it stays that way!

We started off on the morning of the 7th from Shillong. The original plan was to leave at 4am. But as all ambitious plans go, this one underwent major modifications, thanks mainly to the many, many things that needed to be done in the one day we spent in Shillong. By the time we finished meeting people,  getting the  Old Reliable (my Maruti Alto) shipshape, winding up our phones, internet and other 'essential commodities', packing up the extraneous pieces of our life that were lying around the house and generally removing all other sundry traces of our existence there in Shillong, it was 3 am in the morning - not really conducive to a 4am start. We finally got up at 6, stuffed all our baggage into the OR and left by around 9. And when I say stuffed, that's literally what I mean. I was amazed at the amount of stuff that remained in each room of the house as we went through it. After all, I had spent a whole month or so 'packing' and sending things on to Ludhiana! Obviously I had not done a really good job!! By the time we finished, the OR looked like a true beast of burden and there was just about enough space to squeeze ourselves into the front seats and set off!

But that was soon forgotten as we drove down the mountain for possibly the last time. Saying goodbye to the familiar sights, the green pines, the lake, the small villages that line the way, the traffic, the crickets, the unrelenting rain and so many of the sights and sounds that we had grown to love so much over the last two and a half years was bittersweet. What a blessed time these years have been....

And then we were in Assam. And the beauty was still there, though of a different hue. Here we were treated to lush green fields, some plentiful with harvest, others with a riot of flowers and still others left fallow or already harvested that were covered with grass that was a deeper shade of green than I had ever seen. Inspiring...... 

 And of course, the tea plantations that Assam is famous for. Yet another shade of green. Deep,deep green.

And all along the way, we saw the people who toil hard in the life they have not chosen, but been handed down. It seemed sad that modern implements of farming and irrigation have not yet reached Assam, as far as we could see.

And what modernity we saw was not really encouraging. At regular intervals the beauty was marred by dirty factories spewing clouds of black smoke. The sad reality of the cost of development.

The road got progressively worse the farther we travelled from Guwahati. We crossed the Brahmaputra at Guwahati and many of its tributaries along the way. At each of them we kept a keen lookout for the river dolphin, India's national aquatic animal, but unfortunately, the endangered species remained unsighted. We had hoped to reach Siliguri by nightfall, but our late start and the terrible roads put paid to that plan and we stopped for the night in Alipur Duar, a town just on the edge of West Bengal. Just before we turned in, we had another adventure, but that, as they say, is another story!

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  1. That was nice... Now I can't wait for the another story!

  2. I've always wondered why long-distance driving (and even passengering) is so exhausting. The conclusion, so far, is that we process a lot of information along the way - enjoying the scenery, recognizing the emotions it evokes within the mind, and so on. So there's a lot of stuff going on in the brain. On top of that, rebreathing the air in a confined space takes its toll.

    Glad you're doing this, though. It's a beautiful account so far, and I look forward to reading the rest.

    And hope you're going to write about that other adventure soon.

    Have a safe journey!

  3. Thanks guys! The adventure will be in the next post! And UB, you are one step ahead of me! You have actually figured out some of the reasons for the tiredness! They sound really logical and I am going to try letting in more fresh air at regular intervals to see what it does to the tirdeness. Thanks!!

  4. love this post.. 'Road trip' is a great idea.. i feel that i m also travelling with you ll and seeing these places... really exciting.. keep writing.. (more pictures plz........) :-)

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