Longfellow wrote these beautiful lines 'stay, stay at home my heart and rest. Home keeping hearts are the happiest'. I must say, I agree with him. It is also said that home is where the heart is. And that being true I have my home in at least three places in the world, one of them being at Guwahati. It was in the year 2008 that my parents moved there permanently. My association, however, with this fast growing city in the North East of India goes back further in time. Living in Shillong as a child, Guwahati was my gangway to the rest of the world. Where ever we had to go, Guwahati, a mere 3 hours drive from Shillong, was the inevitable starting point. What do I say about this city I feel I know so well and yet have so much of it to discover?
As a child, I would often find myself in Guwahati, sometimes visiting relatives while at others for a trip to the Kamakhya Temple.For those who haven't been there, Guwahati is an amalgamation of the old and the new. It is a city where traditions and modernity coexist. Many might not know this but in spite of the apathy towards this part of the country, Guwahati is very progressive in it's thinking, well, mostly. Whether education, culture or sports, it is a thriving seat for all the three in the north eastern region. For me, Guwahati, which was once the city that connected Shillong to the rest of the world, is today the city where my parents live. Today, Guwahati is my hometown.
Situated on the banks of the Brahmaputra, the only river in this country with a male name, Guwahati is the corridor to the North East. One of my fondest memories of Guwahati is traveling there with my dad. I remember it began in the year when I was in the 8th standard and was suffering from Writer's Cramp. Every month dad would take me to a medical facility in Guwahati for treatment and checkup. It was the first of many journeys dad and I undertook together in the coming years, strangely all of those originating from, well, Guwahati.
And those trips to the Kamakhya Temple, how can I forget those? Dad would often tell us stories about his trips to the temple when he was an Engineering Student in Guwahati. Situated at the top of a hill, there was a time when people used to climb hundreds of steps to reach the temple and still do. I, however, always found the trip by car more fascinating. The ancient temple has a charm that you can't deny, an aura difficult to describe. And the view of the Brahmaputra from the mountain top, well, breathtaking.
Of-course, my trips to Guwahati are now limited to one every year but even in that the familiarity is hard to replicate. It's not only about my parents being there but the people, food, landmarks, et al. I think the fact that it takes me back to my roots, bridges the gap between my present and my past, makes it even more special.
Whether it is watching a movie at Donna Planet or sampling the yummy street food at G.S Road, Guwahati excites me. The Assam Silk sold there is the only fabric that attracts me to sarees. I can spend hours in Fancy Bazar looking for the perfect six yards of grace or buying books in Pan Bazar. The fresh produce dad picks up from Ganeshguriis unparalleled so far. And the atmosphere during Durga Pujas, just divine. Everything about Guwahati holds a special place in my heart, everything.
I somehow recognize myself better there, feel more closer to myself. Well, just writing about it makes me want to fly down there. If you get a chance, I think you should surely pay the city a visit. It's a city with the warmth of a small town. It doesn't get better than that!
#KonaKonaKotak is reaching across the country, in small cities & towns like Guwahati, in yours & mine.