Friday, November 12, 2010

DAY 39 – In Guwahati

Moni was introduced to me by the Mr. Apoorba Jeeban Barua, IPS. I arranged to meet Moni in the morning to get minor repairs to the car done. Moni (Vimal) came to Shillong from his home town Kottarakara in Kerala nearly 14 years ago. His uncle was posted to the city in the CRPF. Since his arrival in Shillong he tried his best in many ventures. But what made him successful is the potential he foresaw in the road developmental works in Assam and Meghalaya. He bought machines and equipment for road works and hired them out to companies that won contracts for the road works. Gradually he also started sub contracting the works. He is married to a Khasi lady and is the proud father of three young girls. The reputation of the father in law and the contacts through his relations in Meghalaya helped him to solidify his position in the business. He faced many challenges in arriving at ‘settlements’ and getting on with the job. He had to even undergo physical harassments along the way. The desire to succeed and make it to the top of the heap kept the juices flowing. He feels that people who would want to enter the business now would find it a major challenge, considering the local conditions. His friends at the garage, to which he took me in Khanapara, did a competent job of fixing the bumpers, the rear light assembly and the horn. Khanapara is an interesting place. This is the border of Assam with Meghalaya. Liquor shops dot the right side of the road as you go towards Shillong. That part is in Meghalaya, while the road and the left side of the road are in Assam!
To travel to Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland, temporary Inner Line Permits have to be obtained. You have to be ready with many copies of your passport size photographs. The application forms are easy to fill up. The least complicated procedure was in the Nagaland Bhavan. The ILP was virtually issued across the counter. Mizoram required a second visit to pick up the ILP after the form was filled up in the forenoon. The most complex was Arunachal Pradesh – but this was more than made up by the helpful lady behind the counter. Arunachal Pradesh is divided into three sections, namely Bomdila/Tawang, Tezu/Dibang Valley, Itanagar/Ziro. If you wish to travel extensively in Arunachal, you have to fill up three forms and remit fees for them. And the permits can be had the next day only.
Mr. Apoorba Jeeban Barua, IPS, AIG (Administration) of the Government of Assam was a contact given to me by Mr. N Ramachandran, IPS, currently the Chairman of the Cochin Port Trust. I met Mr Barua in the Police HQ. He has taken a lot of interest to program my trip, schedule halts, visits and contacts. We went through the Assam and Arunachal parts of the program in greater detail so as to finalise the halts, places to visit and the contact points. His grasp of history and culture of the North East is extensive and he makes you understand it with the ease of a professional. He has maps ready, drawn in his own hand, to explain the migrations, the regional diversities and such else.
The last night in Guwahati had to be spent amongst friends and family savoring the local delights. A friend in the media had told me a couple of days back that the best place to taste the local dishes is the Delicacy Restaurant. Thus, the Nerwals, the Sundar Rams, Manocha and self headed there and ordered the Veg Thali with side dishes of Chicken and Aloo. The dinner began well with an excellent clear soup. The opinion about the rest of the food was quite divided. I enjoyed it, except the Naan, which was more like an after food sweet dish!

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