"Bhut Jolokia & Meditations on death"
"What a difference, a day makes"
Tired from our insane journey criss-crossing North Eastern India in barely 2 weeks, we arrived in Guwahati for a couple days respite before flying to Kolkata. The guesthouse was 20 meters from the Brahmaputra river, so all was in place. First on the agenda was lunch, and our guesthouse owner bragged at length about a place 200 meters away, literally begging us to eat there. We took his advice, and thank fekk we did.
Michinga. A Naga restaurant serving some of the most insane food we had tried all year. The starter, a smoked pork belly with shallots and chilli's was one of the best things I ever tasted. The tea, brewed with some strange occult leaves shone brighter than any diamond. It truly was an immense place to celebrate surviving another Indian overnight train.
Speaking of the train, a fellow passenger had informed us that there was to be a very special musical performance at the ISKCON temple nestled above Guwahati in the hills. Emil and I decided to head out there, Jan prefered the solitude of his own humor. We took a rickshaw through the congested streets of Guwahati, up to the temple, entered the gates, asked the guard what time the music started "6pm". We had been told 5pm on the train, and it was 4.30 now. Decided to head up anyway to check it out and get a second opinion. What confronted us was a beautiful compound full of dedication and care. Gardens arranged meticulously, disciples walking around in silence. We headed to the main room and walked around for a few brief moments.
Having received information that the music would start at 7pm we threw in our cards and decided to leave. Emil was a little more upset than I was, but what lay in waiting would soon make up for it.
After walking down the hill, jumping into a rickshaw, getting stuck in the most insane traffic jam, jumping out of the rickshaw and walking 5 blocks before catching another we headed back to the guesthouse and Jan was to be found frolicking in the foyer taking selfies with a staff member.
Grabbing Jan we headed to eat at a restaurant that I thought I had been at 9 years ago, but proved to be wrong. The food was utterly atrocious, and we all ended up eating barely a bite before heading to a bar to cover up the inconsistencies.
After sampling the delights of Odin Bar, we summoned a rickshaw to take us home. On the way there I realised that we perhaps needed some mixer for the spirits we had at home, so just before the turn to our hotel we asked the rickshaw to stop, paid him, and stretched out into the night.
The shop we were hoping to purchase supplies from was closed, so we started walking in the direction of the hotel. Lo and Behold! Behind a small alleyway was a temporary tent, erected and full of people. After a couple of seconds of hesitation we decided to walk in politely and see what was happening. Immediately we were shown to chairs, asked to sit down, offered tea and biscuits and informed that this was a wake for a family member who had died the month before. Talk about awkward. Well, to western minds yes. The family members treated us with the most amazing grace and kindness and allowed us to sit and witness the whole ceremony before asking us to partake in their meal, and have a thousand selfies and photographs with every member of the band and visitors. It was truly an amazing experience, one that few travellers would ever stumble across.
The day after was spent hunting for dried Ghost Chilli, of which we found some, a river boat crossing to Peacock Island where Emil and Jan danced on the boat like children, a wild scurry to the market to buy Assam tea and then a taxi ride to the airport where we ate samosa's and waited on our flight to Kolkata.
Guwahati was indeed an adventure, and gave way more than it took. If you ever go there, avoid the city and stay by the beautiful shores of the Brahmaputra.
Silky veil of mirrored water
Swelling in late afternoon
Whilst peacocks manifest their plumage
Fire of our inner temple
Drawn upon parchments
Like stained red ash in autum russet
Resting place of cherubs
Divine snakes, feeble priests
Coiled in bone formations on your bed
For one golden moment I knew you
The desolate peace is now lifted
And I long for you in after-thought
The Bitter Man
A backpacker by default since birth, have scanned almost 100 countries in the search for perfection and imperfection in equal measure.