Monday, November 30, 2009

Where In The World Am I?

Janie of An Obsessive Compulsive Plant Collector had done a post
in early November about where we garden bloggers were planted. I
had been meaning to do this for a while but too many posts came in
between and November brought me more than my share of the usual
computer aches and pains:) And instead of prose I've turned to
From a poem titled "Guwahati" by our region's most prolific
writer, Indrani Raimedhi, who has kindly granted me permission
to reproduce her poem here.

Guwahati, that's where I live. In the north-eastern region of India,
in the state of Assam. I've called this city home since 1993. It's the
largest city in our region and one of the fastest growing cities in
India. Its etymological root is derived from two Assamese words--
"Guwa" and "Haat". The first stands for areca nut/areca catechu and the
second means 'market'. These photos show the fruit on the tree and
the harvest. The ripe ones turn a rich shade of yellowish orange.
You can find out more about the nut here.

Home to more than a million people, Guwahati stands on the banks
of the mighty river, the Brahmaputra. The city is dotted with hills.
Summer's maximum temperature can be as hot as 38* and our short-lived
much-loved winter temps vary between 10* and 25-27*


Ancient city with a young heart
Hills huddle around you
Like old women at a birth
Or a funeral
A sullen river
Receives your offerings silently
Of flowers,ash,coins


You contain multitudes
Slums break out like rash
Your arteries are choked with cars
You die a little
As fumes permeate your lungs
As floods surge into your homes
And taps run dry
You die a little
When they tear down your
Dreaming, time-worn houses
Dig up your verdant fields

The Brahmaputra


You unleash a melody
The clamour of bells at Kamakhya
Trains mournful whistles
Tumult of traffic
Cries of children at play
Muezzins call for prayers
The madman's muttered obscenities
Ringing of telephones
Scream of pilot cars
catcalls of eaveteasers

The Kamakhya Temple on Nilachal Hill


Lovers link arms
Under your Krishnachura
As red as the blood
Of the scooterist who
Died in your street

The Flame Tree in bloom. Locally called the Krishnachura


Your people have no time
To read the graffiti on your walls
Or live out a cosmic experience
At your planetarium
Few care to walk
The corridors of your history
Or even know why
A frozen God contemplates the river
At Sukleswar

At the temple of the nine planets
On Chitrachal hill
The earthen lamps flicker

To dispel the darkness

One of the city streets in the evening


Every day your old self
Dies a little
The glossy tourist brochures
Have for you
A brand new sobriquet
Gateway to the north-east
How can you be
Only a threshold
To be crossed?
They have forgotten the pulsebeat
Of your history

Perhaps only the statues
In your parks
Remember your past
The wrinkles under your paint
The hills huddle around you
The river sullenly washes your side
Live on Guwahati
Dreaming under the sky.

View of the city photographed from Nilachal Hill


rocksea said...

view from the hills show the mightiness of brahmaputra and how the city was built along the banks. thanks for the information!

janie said...

This is a great post! The poem reveals the city as alive! I would love to visit there.

Carol said...

What a beautiful and informative tribute to your city Kanak! Lovely to think of the mountains huddled as old women around the birth of the city. . . trains mournful whistles . . . Beautiful poem! A beautiful yellowy orange in your areca nuts mirroring the peacock pansy butterfly across from the basket of nuts. Beautiful pictures . . . every one! From one Northeastern gardener to another far away in your magical state of Assam . . . I am happy to know your world through your eyes. Very special post. Carol

Susie said...

This is such an interesting post Kanak. I always enjoy seeing and learning more about where you live.

lotusleaf said...

A very interesting post Kanak. Thanks for showing us the sights of Guwahati, which I have always wanted to see. The poem is so poignant!

Kiki said...

Super beautiful...wonderful post!!

Di said...

Kanak, I find such a sadness in Indrani Raimedhi's words as she paints this remarkable picture. Is it not a similar case of today's societies that there seems to be no time for that which is most important? People scurrying by, paying no attention to life that is in the present moment... with no understanding that "now" is all we have.

Thank you Kanak for sharing your wonderful photos and an extraordinary poem with us. Diana

Tyra in Vaxholm said...

Hi Kanak and thank you for sharing these great words and photos, most enjoying. Now we know where you are.

Green thumb said...

Hi Kanak! Guwahati is one city I have been meaning to visit since long. There must be thousands of web pages dedicated to the city but none can describe it the way you did - from the heart. It is a warm description of a beautiful city.

Hocking Hills Gardener said...

What a wonderful posting Kanak!

I have a couple of awards for you on my blog. There is no pressure to participate though. I know some people do not have the time or just do not accept awards.
Congratulations you deserve them!

Kanak Hagjer said...

Roxy...the day was hazy so that's why the pictures are like that. Only the night scene and the Krishnachura photos were taken in summer.

Janie, you're most welcome!! And thanks for motivating me:-)

Carol...loved reading your words! I felt exactly the same when I read Indrani's poem. More so because it described my never-penned feelings as well. There's always so much to be said. For instance, the areca nuts have a place in so many important rituals. If I'd done the details I'd have Digressed way beyond what this post was meant to be!

Did you notice the Bulbul on the tree?

Susie...thank you so much! It gives me great pleasure to be able to share these as well. And I feel the same:)

Padma...I hope you'll be coming this side some time in the future! I'd love to show you around.

Kiki...thank you so much!!

Di, I did get my first dose of the indifference that I'd only heard about earlier when we first came to settle here. My husband's transferable job took us to many small towns across Assam. Wherever we went neighbours simply came over and introduced themselves and were friendly. We never got that here. It was a rude introduction to "city" life!!

Tyra...wish you'll come some day! You've already seen Kerala and Rajasthan. Think about Assam!:)

Green Thumb...Swagatam! I hope you'll be here the near future! And thank you so much for your kind words. We have all the warts that you find in any Indian city but one begins to love/get used to the place one settles down, no matter where that may be.

Lona...thanks for keeping me in mind!

Carla said...

I always enjoy your posts, and this one is terrific!

islandgal246 said...

Oooh Kanak how lovely a post! Your hometown sounds and looks very interesting and makes me want to visit. One day hopefully.

easygardener said...

It is a very powerful poem. A wonderful description of the changes that happen to ancient cities as they enter the modern world.

Jim Groble said...

Your pictures and narrative are wonderful I have added you to my blog list.


Shailaja said...

An enchanting description thro' pictures and poetry of a beautiful city! I loved it!

Stephanie said...

The place is wonderful! I like how the poem started... Ancient city with a young heart. I like that! Just like us he he.... Nonetheless, thank you introducing your home to us. Have a happy Tuesday!

azplantlady said...

Hello Kanak,

One of the reasons I love belonging to blotanical so much is connecting with gardeners for other areas of the world.

I hope to visit India someday, but enjoy seeing it through your eyes until then.

jodi (bloomingwriter) said...

This is what I most love about reading blogs--learning a little more about the world beyond my own country. Though I have to say you can keep those high temperatures. I guess I need the snow in the winter to regenerate me and I handle cold better than hot. Funny how we are...

Kanak Hagjer said...

Carla...thank you so much!

Helen...would love to have you here! Thanks!

EG...I agree with you...very well-expressed.

Jim...thank you so much! You'll be on mine too!:)

Shailaja...lovely to have you here, always! Thanks!

Steph...Happy Tuesday to you too. Glad to read your words!!

Noelle...I feel exactly the same. The best part of blogging!! If you ever visit India, I hope you'll make it to my part of the country too!

Jodi...I know! The other round for me...extreme cold would be disastrous for my health! I can understand the regeneration part. Enjoy your snow...and thanks for stopping by.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful poem and great place!

I have an award for you to collect!

Tatyana@MySecretGarden said...

Great! I love all the pictures, including the map (good idea)! The poem is wonderful and there is so much information in it! I remember the name Brahmaputra since I was a child, it always fascinated me. Thank you Kanak!

Wendy said...

What an interesting post! And those pics are do die for!! Love that flame tree. I can see why you love living there. Want a visitor?? LOL!

Prospero said...

Beautiful post, Kanak.

Kanak Hagjer said...


Tatyana...loved reading your comment. with this kind of feedback I feel it was worth going all the way (the outskirts) and spending time on that hill! It was a revelation to me to see the wildlife there! All for a later post.

Wendy...Welcome!!! Glad to hear your view on the post!

Prospero...thank you so much!

Anonymous said...

Dear Kanak, I can see why you chose this wonderful poem to tell about your city, it is emotionally charged! Thank you for showing us the photos of the diverse surroundings. I really liked what Jodi said, the reason blogging is such a treasure, to learn how people really live in lands far from out own. For me, I like a little hot, and a little cold, not too much of each. :-)

Kanak Hagjer said... lovely to have you stop by. I'd like the same too...both the cold and the heat in moderation but the Heat always wins!:(

Thank you for commenting on the poem too...always a pleasure to read your words!

K-Sue said...

What a heartfelt poem - the poet seems to capture the heartbeat of this city, so far from where I live. I have popped over from Mildred's Menagerie to find your lovey blog, and these incredible words. Thank you for sharing.

Kanak Hagjer said...

This comment was sent to me by my friend,Bhaswati Khaund Goswami

Beautiful Kanak! Struggled in vain to post a comment.. tried opening n account too but failed.. this was what I had wanted to post. Can you put it in?
Wonderful piece of work... coming together of two creative minds ! Makes us realize what a beautiful city this was along the mighty Red River, the blue hills, the colonial bungalows with the flaming red Krishnachuras... and alas how we spoilt it all in the name of "civilization", "development" and wanton destruction of Mother Nature .. Enjoyed it much Kanak... keep them coming