I took a train to Guwahati from New Jalpaiguri. I had come there from Sikkim in a bus in a near-five hour journey. The bus ride wan’t very enjoyable as the road was curvy and I feel dizzying in such trip. Glad that I didn’t throw out. Waited for a couple of hours in the NJP train station eating and charging iPhone. A Nepali couple, just married I assumed, came to my table. Initially I thought that was just another Indian couple heading for honeymoon or something. I had to wait until they talked. I just listened to their conversation for a few minutes. There was no alternative in fact as my phone was plugged in and was being charged. And the food was there at the table.
Two guys from south India had come to my table before the couple arrived. They were also going to Guwahati but in a different train. Their train was scheduled to come earlier in NJP than mine. One of the guys had iPod but no charger. I helped him with that and he was happy.
The train came one hour late and I assumed by the time it reaches Guwahati it would be late by two hours. Which meant Guwahati at 6 am. The train reached there at 3:37 am, a good two hours ahead of the schedule! There were two options: either go out into the city and look for the hotels or stay there till dawn and move out. I chose the second. The station was in bad shape, not up to my expectation. The major station of the north east region of India would be grand, I had thought.
There was no place to sit. I came out and sat on the floor not far from the main entrance of the station and started turning pages of Lonely Planet hoping to find the right hotel.
I moved out at around 5:30 am and after two cups of coffee. First hotel, a government-run guest house near to the station, was packed. I moved to another. Walked for about six minutes. With that heavy luggage and no proper sleep in the night, its not easy to walk just like that. But I dragged on. Two hotels were full. Third one was too expensive for my budget.
Finally I reached at another hotel that was still not open and was listed in the LP as having wide range of rooms, many of them cheap and suitable to my budget. I waited for about 10 minutes outside along with a family. I got the room.
But the problem aroused when the receptionist at around 8 am calls me to tell that since there’s no visa in my passport I couldn’t stay in the hotel. I told him Nepalis didn’t need to have visas just as Indians like him didn’t need visas to go to Nepal. I told him to call and ask the police if he didn’t believe me. It became clear that I was the only Nepali staying in this one of the oldest hotels in this part of Guwahati. “No, no, many Nepalis come from Darjeeling and they always have some sort of ID cards that proves their address [in India]” he said. “But they never bring passport.”
I explained him that those coming from Darjeeling were Indians, not Nepali, the citizen of Nepal, like me. Because they are Indians, I said, they have the ‘address proof’. I told him he could call police or his manager if he wasn’t satisfied with my explanation.
Later in the day his manager came and said: “So, Nepalis don’t need visa to come to India?” Then he gave me my passport back and registered my name and address in his record book.
I went around the city looking for the ferry. A policeman denied me entry into the police office from where I could go to the bank of Brahmaputra river. Then I told this to a lawyer who was passing by. The lawyer took me from another gate.
It was hot, I was alone and the feeling wasn’t very enthusiastic. Still I was determined to go to some parts of the city. I went to the Kamakhya Temple later in the day. The view of some parts of Guwahati seen from near the temple was mesmerizing;: a train was entering the city via a jungle. I couldn’t enjoy the view for long as I was in a fast moving and fully packed Jeep.
In the evening I went to the main bazaar of Guwahati hoping to eat some north east Indian cuisine. I couldn’t find and satisfied myself with fish curry and rice in a fancy restaurant where a couple was having warm talks over ice cream. I felt sorry for them that the ice cream melted so quickly. They left.
Back in hotel, the room was horrible horrible horrible. Well, not THAT horrible but I really wished there was a window in the room and slightly better bed sheet and somewhat tolerable washroom! There was no better option for that price. I slept there two nights.
Next day before going to Shillong, I went to Nepali mandir (temple). Jeeps to Shillong are available near there. The priest at the temple was about to close the temple so I didn’t stay for long. After bargaining for a few rupees with the driver of the Jeep, I settled in for the trip to Shillong.
I dislike bus journey on d nagbeli roads that go twisted on d hills like this one down from Gangtok, Sikkim (India). Dizzying experience.
Mourning Mahadev had travelled really far n wide (n fast) carrying his dead wife Sati. Her yoni fell here in Kamakhya, Assam, guyhya in Ktm 12:37 PM Sep 29th
Today’s excitement: view of a moving train (malwahak) entering Guhawati. Seen from Kamakhya hill, Assam. 2:57 PM Sep 29th