We left the UK on Monday 23rd March for a few days R&R in Delhi. Flying through the night, and with a +5.5 hour time difference, we arrived in time for lunch on Tuesday, before flying out again on Friday to Guwahati, the largest city of Assam in the northeast of India. There were only three of us arriving on that flight, and when we found our tour guides we learned that we would be a party of five in total. Happily, that turned out to be the perfect number, and we were personalities that travelled well together.
Very slow traffic into the city gave us ample opportunity to study the architecture, revealing some impressive concrete estates and classic examples of 60s modernism, weathered by the humid climate. Feeling more like a busy town than a major city, there were distinct streets of small engineering works before the more 70s commercial centre.
There were no planned activities for the afternoon, so we wandered out from the hotel to walk along the Brahmaputra and then back through town. It was hectic along the river, with everyone out in their best clothes to celebrate spring festival, buying icecream, making offerings. There were beggars, holy men, people taking a dip in the river, some people taking photos of us (one of them repeatedly), and lots of people staring at us. Everyone seemed so tiny that suddenly being only 167cm seemed like being a giant.
We puzzled over an ‘experimental’ mechanical car parking structure, weird in every possible way and tellingly without any cars.
On the river the boats looked very much like the ones we saw in Bangladesh. I suppose they could even be the same boats.
Our hotel had a bar, but the staff refused to let us in there, (it did look unappealingly smoke-filled) and served us at a table in the restaurant, supplying so many dishes of masala peanuts and aloo chat with the beers that we didn’t really have room for dinner as well.
Much rain, thunder and lightning during the night; a pattern that was to be frequently repeated.