Day 7 : 27th September 2019
We are in the land of Bengalis and I realized it late in the evening. Was talking to the hotel manager and asked him why a particular stretch of Asian Highway 1 is bad. He responded with a statement “Government is trying to extend the stretch to 4 lane but the Jomeen is not available or very expensive”. I asked him to repeat but couldn’t understand. Being a born madrasi, my Hindi might be the worst but not that bad to understand the statement. But trying to understand Hindi word from a Bengalis mouth was difficult. After much thinking, I realized he was referring to “Zameen (Land)” and I laughed for some time. And the other factor is the mustard oil they use for cooking. Nothing wrong with that but i am not used to do that. Looks like my next couple of days going to be tough from a food perspective.
Showered with a Lifebuoy soap after long time (hotel provided) and what a soap it is. Felt the entire dust and dirt from my body got removed with one use. Applied for the second time and felt so fresh (till I started wearing my biking gear).. Decided to go back to Lifebuoy once I return to Mumbai. Lifebuoy hai jaha tandurusti hai waha
Wherever we stop our bike, people surround us and look at us with a puzzled look. They think we both ride some racing vehicle and one of them asked Manish “Whether I belong to police.” Manish response was hilarious. He told that guy “Yes, we are chasing a terrorist who is a threat to the nation”. I couldn’t control my laughter and happy to have Manish as my fellow rider. So helpful/accommodative and positive. His bike could have taken him to Silchar today but he prefer to support and stay with me. Love that attitude.
The road from Dhupgiri to Guwahati is “Asian Highway 1”. For first 100 kms, it was a 2 lane road and then it changed to 4 lane road. The entire stretch except some portions were too good for riding or driving. It takes you through forest (dense on both the sides of the road) and we have been told that Elephants crosses the road in some places. We did see sign boards capturing the same message but unfortunately we couldn’t witness a crossing today.
Stopped at village restaurant and they were making puri/bhaji. Interesting and very tasty. Peaceful village and people are quite relaxed and enjoying the moment. We came across people collecting money at many intersections and believe it is either for Durga Pooja celebrations or for Madrasa Childrens education support. We haven’t been stopped but they stop all the trucks and other vehicles and collecting donations. Interesting but dangerous on a very important highway.
Finally we entered Assam and very beautiful state. Last year when I was doing my incredible India by Road, I realized how much ignorant we are about Odissa and how beautiful the state is. Same thing with North east. Lots of people visit these states now but more advertising is required to sell the beautiful landscapes (mountains, large rivers, green cover everywhere, nice people and brilliant weather). A detailed trip to North Eastern states needs to be done with Sonal in the near future. That’s another item added to the ever elongating wish list. Btw, I got a feeling that we already entered the south east Asian country side. The look and feel are so same except the people speak in a common language (not trying to politicize anything 😜😜😜).
We stopped for another break at a tea shop and started conversation with the owner. Not only here but many places people struggle to speak Hindi but they don’t give up and push themselves in continuing the conversation with us. That’s very accommodating and not sure whether you would find such moments in Tamilnadu (I know I would be bombarded by many on seeing this and am happy to stand corrected). While drinking the tea, I could smell pineapple and felt like eating one. Asked the shop owner for a piece and he gave me a box of agarbatti (incense stick). This is forest pineapple fragrance agarbattis. 30 rupees for a pack of 10. Don’t get anywhere else and only in Assam was the sales pitch. Might be true.
Found 2 things which needs some correction.
° Rumblers strips – 18 bumps for each strip and you have to negotiate one strip every 2nd km. Going at a good speed and suddenly these strips brings you back to zero speed and that’s very irritating. Not sure why they have so many tumbler strips (there might be some valid reasons) but it’s so annoying for a traveler.
° Traffic Signals – I didn’t see a single traffic signal so far in Assam. Instead of having a signal, they still use the old and outdated method of using a traffic police officer manually directing the intersections. On one intersection, we couldn’t see any officer and we were crossing it at a decent speed. Suddenly the car from left also came towards us and we spotted an officer under a concrete platform with his hand showing the stop sign in our direction. A person new to this area won’t be aware of such thing and it could cause real damage. And definitely not on “Asian highway 1”.
We stopped for lunch at 1 pm and our original plan was to reach Shillong. We finished our lunch by 1:45 pm and Google map showed an estimated travel time of 4 hours and that would mean “Riding after sun set”. Sun set happens around 5:15 pm and we were deliberating on what to do. Our tour manager has reached shillong and posted a Facebook video stating the heavy rains there. That’s it and we decided not to stretch further and changed our plan to reach Guwahati for the night halt. Getting up early every morning and riding long distance has had its effect and I slept at the restaurant for 30 minutes. The restaurant guys were so good (Manish told them that we are from discovery channel and the video would appear soon) and one of the best host so far and see the picture for the service we got. We started at 3 pm and reached Guwahati by 4:30 pm. The entire stretch (around 400 kms) was great and it was fun riding on it. Thoroughly enjoyed the day.
I have read (during school days) and heard a lot about the great river called Brahmaputra. Finally saw her in her majestic form while crossing a bridge and she is a real beauty. Couldn’t stop to take a picture (there is one video which shows a glimpse of it) because of the traffic but would do that during my return journey.
We are back to the scheduled plan and would ride to Silchar tomorrow. Our Phase 1 of the journey is heading towards its end and I am definitely looking forward to the rest day on Monday. One of my friend said “Such long bike rides need bones made of steel” and that’s a very true statement. Let’s see what my bones are made of in the coming days.
Last thing. After only 7 days and some 2,800 km, I might be the dirtiest person in the world. Not sure what would happen to me when i complete this ride afyer 40 days. The warning is not to come anywhere closer to me..