I missed the smell of BAAH GAAZ ( BAMBOO SHOOT) and the taste of MASOR TENGA ( TANGY FISH CURRY). The joy of waking up to the songs of cuckoo and the wind acting like a set of ten thousand needles piercing your skin. Evening strolls to the favourite momo shop by the corner and weekends at the ice cream parlor. The gossips during the lunch break and rushing for the tuitions after school. The sweaty city bus rides and the queues at the SINGRA ( SAMOSA) stall. The tall mountains and the greens. How I missed you my beautiful place! I can never get enough of you!
Dad would insist mom to cook SINGHI FISH( STINGING CAT FISH) with OMITA( PAPAYA ) and KHAR( Baking Soda produced organically from natural sources of alkali like BHEEM KOL, a type of Banana found in Assam ) , PURA BHANGONE MAAS’r CHUTNEY ( salad made of roasted BOGA LABEO FISH) and KON AALU FRY ( fried small potatoes found in Assam). On other days I would find RONGA LAUR AAG( Pumpkin Leaves), KOL POSOLA( Curry made of BANANA STEM) and GAHORI( PORK) on my KAHOR KAHI( Dish made of BELL METAL used/ handcrafted in Assam). While having lunch, dad would recollect how tastier the rice was in Pasighat, Arunachal Pradesh( mentioning rice as that was one of the tastiest of the lot) and how easy our lives were back then!
Back in the day, when we were in Pasighat, a small town in the East Siang District of Arunachal Pradesh( the place where I was born), life was really very simple. And blissful. The school was located almost 2.5 kms away from the Goverment Quarters where we used to stay and that road was mostly covered on foot. As far as I can recollect, there was a beautiful orange orchard by the road. The transportation available was only private vehicles and there were these difficult terrains that we were accustomed to covering on foot. The place where there was hardly any big restaurant or multiplexes and people grew their food in their farms. The place of immensely down to earth and humble people who still live comfortably and are self sufficient with an average of INR 5000-10000 per month.
On the other hand, although, there are many multiplexes, tall apartments and big restaurants in Assam, the lifestyle of the people is still very simple. Assam is a multi- ethnic and multi- linguistic state. It also has a multi- religious society but everybody lives at peace with each other. Also, it’s home to people from many other states. Guarded by the mighty Brahmaputra and the lush green mountains, Assam is all about a beautiful encounter with nature. There is a musician in almost every household. And there’s a plenty of talent and potential. All we lack here is a bunch of opportunities which are making their way slowly. There are vast greeneries and a dozen mountains wherever you point your eyes! People catch up on evenings for a plate of momos and SAAH ( TEA) and don’t dwell inside their smartphones 24*7! Then there is the one- horn- rhino of KAZIRANGA and the hundereds of years old architecture of RANG GHAR.
I was not aware of the term RACISM till I moved out of Assam. We don’t have enough IT Companies and MNCs back home and people move out of Assam to other places to earn their living. Many a times I have been asked which country is Assam a part of and how do we manage to live as its full of only JUNGLE( FOREST)? Then there are others who would question about ULFA and the safety of people in Assam! Anyway, this post isn’t about racism or its after effects but only about the beauty of these simple states: Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. I don’t expect you to know if we have a small town called Pasighat in Arunachal Pradesh but I would definitely expect you to know that Arunachal Pradesh isn’t the capital of MANIPUR! Nor is MEGHALAYA inside ASSAM. It’s cause these are supposed to be taught in your school, isn’t it? Also, we don’t eat lizards and frogs! Nope! Plus, our names aren’t MOMO or CHINKY. We are no different from you when it comes to nationality. But, we do have a very rich culture and we are proud to have slanted eyes and blunt noses! We are definitely not half Indians and half Chinese or Korean or Burmese!
♣ CREDITS ♣
CREATIVE DIRECTION & STYLING | SHIVANI BORUAH
PHOTOGRAPHY & EDITING | SUBHAM DAS GUPTA
CONCEPT | Highlighting the beauty and culture of ASSAM and ARUNACHAL PRADESH
OUTFIT | GALE of the ADI tribe of ARUNACHAL PRADESH, gifted by my dearest childhood friend Kenyir Taipodia; MUGA RIHA, one of the three piece Assamese attire, this one is weaved by my mother; MISING SADOR, CHADAR of the MISING TRIBE, one of the communities of Assam;A simple black top to match the Gale
ACCESSORIES | MADULI and DUGDUGI,ethnic necklaces; KERU MUKH finger rings; GAAMKHARUand other traditional bracelets; GOGONA, a jaw harp made of bamboo, a famous music instrument of ASSAM
LOCATION | A small village LATAKATA near BASISTHA in GUWAHATI
I hope you liked reading this blogpost. As today THE VELVET RADIO turns a year older, I wanted it to be about the place that I belong to and the place where I imbibed all the rich traditions that I am proud of! I can’t thank you enough for making the blog a year older and all the support and appreciation that you have always showered upon it. To better days and better posts!
~ With Love,