As soon as we set foot in Assam, it got warmer…yay!!! This means our laundry might dry! Since Nepal, locals grow banana and bamboo and the same goes for Assam and the other 6 sister states. You also see a lot of supari palms and coconut palms surrounding the bamboo woven houses (it’s amazing what you can make out of bamboo)! I’m glad we had planned it like this, seems like a natural progression to go through Nepal and into the northeast.
I’ve always been curious of Assam since my good childhood friend, Benita is from there. She suggested us some places to visit but I wish we had researched places to stay much earlier. The road was amazing tarmac until we hit Birpara, where it was diversion after diversion (worse than the Karnal – Delhi parts)! The off-road diversions costed us some time, so we rolled up to Guwahati after dark. But even more troubling was as soon as we got into Assam, our internet on the phones shut off. We were tired and couldn’t figure out where the hell we were since the Garmin map was useless to us in the northeast as well. The first hotel we saw with safe parking, we raced there. It ended up being a real shit hole of a hotel. Ever since we entered Nepal and the northeast, it’s been a pan spit-fest…on the floor—on the wall—on the furniture—on the ceiling! (Okay, I’m exaggerating, that could be impossible…or would it?) Guwahati did not disappoint either, the crap hotel we stayed at was painted red. How we stayed for 2 nights, I don’t know!
I had done some research into what to see and Benita had sent some things for us to see but without the internet it was a little hard to plan our route. We decided the next morning to go to the Airtel office to see what the deal was with the phone. So far the northeast has been the toughest regarding the bike. In Gangtok we had a lady throwing stones at our bike to make the alarm go off and the girl that was with her called the police when we confronted her as to why she was doing it. The lady was crazy and was screaming, obviously just an unstable, immature woman. The police knew we were right but his hands were tied. In Guwahati outside the Airtel shop was insane…just men on top of men crowded around me and the bike pushing their cell phone cameras in my face taking my pics and at times trying to push me away to take pics of the bike. It was hot as hell! Soon the police came, media came, it was a mess. I had no room to breathe. Nick had to come out a few times and help me clear people out because obviously men in India don’t want to hear anything from a woman. Unfortunately anywhere we went in Guwahati played out the same way.
We attempted to go to the Kamakhya Temple only to have overly curious guys tampering with the bike, trying to take the cover off etc etc. We decided to go up one by one. I got up to the top and found a long line that hadn’t moved in 30 minutes (not even the special pass line)! I came back down without seeing the main temple to a startled Nick. He exclaimed, “You won’t believe what I just saw!” In temples devoted to the goddess Kali, they do goat sacrifices. Nick had witnessed a goat having it’s head chopped off. I looked behind Nick and saw the headless body of a small goat with bright red blood pooling around the body while he gushed all the gory details. A similar incident that Nick’s Dad had witnessed turned him into a vegetarian, would this be a turning point for Nick? The answer to that is a big fat NO, he ordered butter chicken a few hours later for dinner and wondered what they’d do with the goat body…that’s some good biriyani right there! Anyways, after reading the history behind the temple, the sacrifice made sense as to why they do it but it really sucks how we couldn’t see much in Guwahati due to the hype with the bike. It was annoying as people wanted to touch everything, sit on it and hell if they could, ride it. Knowing the Desi psyche, it was too much for us to let it sit unprotected. In Nepal people would admire from afar and give you space, once we entered back in India, the the tampering started as predicted. We might just have to suck it up and auto it to places!
We decided to head out to Kaziranga National Park, maybe we’d actually get some peace!