Same coordinates for 2 months or so and I am already planning for a getaway. Travel gives you a fresh mind and soul, be it visiting your dear ones or simply vacation at any place you like. Even when in my room, I am too restless to sit at a single place for a 'considerable' time. Few days back, suddenly I decided to head for Assam. Thus, I was flying in two days time for my longest leave in my professional life !! As I looked down while landing at Jorhat, there was water everywhere and I just got apprehensive if the plan was indeed good. It had been raining in Assam for some months now and the mighty Brahmaputra was in a fiery mood. Nevertheless, I loved the weather during my stay. Rain clouds would appear from no where and will be in a mood to envelope the whole sky. It did and would pour till the sun took over. The result was lyrical, perfect for TWM's in-house poets to write down few lines !!
The first evening itself I visited 5 families and stayed overnight at a school friend's place. Another friend also joined in and next day we were off to Kaziranga. Kaziranga is just 96Km from Jorhat.The rainy season is not the time to visit the park, as the Brahmaputra floods the park and the animals cross the NH 37 to higher places in the Karbi Anglong hills.
I do not have a 'conscious' memory of seeing a Rhino. So I was very excited about the trip and my friend also kept on telling about the experience of his cousin brother who was in Kaziranga a week ago, to add on to the excitement. On the way, we both dozed off. Suddenly I woke up near the small town of Kohora and I could see many hoardings with Kazriranga written over them. So, still in half sleep, asked the conductor to stop the bus and we got down. Later we realized, our destination, a resort where we intended to stay was still miles away. Though Kohora too had some hotels and we explored the small place to find the Assam Tourism guest house. We took our lunch and got the bad news; 'The park is closed'. So the one-horned Rhinoceros will remain elusive.
So what do we do now, we decided to explore the area and if we do not get a transport back to Jorhat or Sibsagar, we would stay at one of the hotels. The place was a beauty. There was the Karbi Anglong hills on one side of the national highway and the other side was the plain areas flooded by the Brahmaputa. Of course, it is Assam, and the tea gardens offered a great view. There is a peculiar smell near the tea gardens which I like very much. Plus, there is a bird which gives out a very secial sound, that I use to let my mom that I'm home. I'll try to whistle and record for you all to hear sometime soon. We took another bus and reached GL resort where we intented to stay. May be we will return during winters when the park is open and with a bigger gang, that would be fun. We decided to try our luck to get a transport back to my friend's home in Sibsagar. It was already 6 in the evening. We were lucky, a Mahindra Scorpio gave us a lift and we were in Sibsagar in less than 3 hours. Also on the way, we stopped by while still passing the Kaziranga park area to see three Rhinos. My happiness knew no bounds.Finally I see the Rhinos in Kaziranga. Earlier in the afternoon, I had showed my respect to two elephants and offered some money to the mahouts. May be the Scorpio and rhinos were blessings from the elephants !!
While on the Kaziranga trip, I also noticed some new dwellings along the NH37. Previously, on either side of the highway you would see only tea gardens, hills, paddy fields and very few human settlements. But this time around, one could see many new human dwellings near the Kaziranga area. Assam has been facing the problem of illegal migrants from Bangladesh for a long time now. These illegal migrants issue should be addressed on a priority basis otherwise the situation in the state can become volatile.
I visited many of my relatives in Sibsagar, Jorhat and Golaghat. It felt good to be amongst them. There are many small kids now with many marriages in the recent times. I get on well with the kids and also clicked some good snaps of them. Eventually, the grown ups were impressed with me for the lovely pics !! Everywhere I went, there was chicken or fish on the menu. I was exhausted eating non-veg towards the end of my vacation. Though I could not gorge on duck this time around. This vacation, I also met many of my school mates after a very long gap. Wish I could have extended my stay.
I am back in Kolkata and thankfully the weather is good. Otherwise, I would have surely returned to Assam.