Thursday, March 15, 2007

A National Sojourn in Assam

(This picture of Sepak Takraw in National Games.)

First time it was happening in the Assam and second time in the North-East India. In the shadow of threats by United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA), government of Assam dared to organize the National Games in Guwahati and you could only see to believe how excellent these games were. No obstruction from Ulfa, huge response from local peoples and excellent organization were the key reasons that everyone including Press reporters was happy with the games.

National Games taking place in Guwahati was big news for us. So many reporters from all over the country were there to cover the games. Kerala reporters were largest in numbers. They were about 32 and Maharashtra had only two reporters. They were from Marathi daily Sakal. I was one of them, the other being Mr. Sanjay Gharpure from Mumbai. After a long travel of around 54 hours, we reached Guwahati and immediately started our work.

Opening and Closing ceremony was the showcase event for the strength of Northeast. Traditional dances from all the seven northeastern states and Sikkim were the attraction of the program. Though the security was tight throughout the games, it did not prove to be a burden for spectators and journalists. Many times you have to just go through metal detector and nothing else. In all the tour neither a single security person checked ourselves nor any other journalist neither we were asked to open our bags and laptops.

National games was lackluster for many as there was no super star like Leander Peas, Mahesh Bhupati, Sania Mirza, Anju Bobby George and many other international athletes. But people from Assam were not unhappy with that. They just wanted to enjoy the games and people from all over the city and nearer villages thronged to stadiums to watch the games. Can you imagine people were standing in queue to just watch the swimming tank and competitions there? Crowd was expected at soccer, hockey, athletics, basketball, volleyball, kabaddi and other popular games. But people in large number were present to watch games like fencing, cycling, sepak takraw, lawn bowl and rugby also.

When we talked to people they told us that, for last so many years such games or tournaments were happening only in National Capital New Delhi or state capitals like Mumbai, Kolkatta or Hyderabad. It was the first time that games were organized in Assam and so people were enthusiastic to watch the stadiums, games and players also. So people turned to all stadiums and give overwhelming response to all the games and cheered all the players crossing state differences.

As National game was first time in Assam, organizers and volunteers were very much helping and they loved to care a lot. Many of them were college students and they worked as volunteers while maintaining their regular schedule. They were not expecting money for their work. As one Rajendra Kumar said, “This is our game. Assam is holding games for the first time. How can I ask for money for personal duty? If government gives us then its ok, but we will never ask for money for our work.” People were working with this spirit and because of that everyone who was there were happy with arrangements.

We enjoyed the lunch on Cruise courtesy of Assam Tourism Department. Brahmaputra was the river, which is about 2 kilometers broad in guwahati. Because of this there is only one bridge on river and it is outside the city. People travel through boats to go from south guwahati to north guwahati because there is only one bridge. There are so many big boats called cruise on river. People can enjoy their lunch or dinner there. Food on that cruise was just like food in village which adivasis eat. Steamed rice, which is cooked in leaves, mutton of duck, pickle of Bamboo, Rohu fish, Chicken Curry was the menu for lunch. When you finish your lunch then they serve you Roso Gulla with Sweet Curd. It was an unforgotten experience for me to travel on Brahmaputra in Cruise.

Another experience we got in Nalbari district. While going to my friend’s village in Nalbari, we had to pass through one village where all the houses were of Bangladeshi infiltrators. There were total 120 Bangladeshi families in one village and there are a number of such villages by the bank of river Brahmaputra.

Few years back Assam Gana Parishad and AASU people fought with those infiltrators and send them back to Bangladesh. But unfortunately the came back again in 90’s and that time congress government gave ration card to them. Then those infiltrators were successful to get land for farming and now they are settled down there and working in the cities of Assam and Kolkatta. We feel very sorry about that thing. But not only us but also everyone is helpless and none can do anything against it. As it’s matter of votes now.


Anonymous said...


great experience...beoz ulfa struck assamese n rest Indians hardly get such a chance to celebrate together... such events shall certainly open doors to the diamond of northeast, ASSAM

Onkar Danke said...

Nice article...
last national game is very imp.for us.there was big security problem before national games.but due great will power off aasami people.ulfa withdraw their threat before the tourmament.
This national games provide good grounds good sport fasility.this will helpful for not only aasami player but also all north east player in future.
As u write only 2 marathi reporters was present there.this is very shameful to all our marathi media.I hope in future marathi media will also give big coverage for national games.
I think beacuse of these games lot of non aasami people saw aasami culture.they come close to aasami people.share their views with natives..This is a real sucess of last national games.

Anonymous said...

hey Ashish, went through your blog for the first time and must say I am impressed with your writing style. You have nicely portrayed the life in Assam, their culture,food,fondness towards Maharashtra and their contribution in freedom fighting. But feels bad that poor people are still fighting against Bangladeshi refugees because politicians are being selfish.
Good to hear that Assami people are njoying their local games & not crazy about some hyped players like Sania,Bhupati etc.I think thats how it should be. We should start encouraging our local games like US does and not just follow cricket.I really liked all the articles from your blog. Way to Go!! Keep the good work. I think I will visit your blog more often now on.

Unknown said...

Indeed one of the best blog I came across. Good work. Nice to read your posts, Have bookmarked, promised to be a regular visitor.

//Jadu, Assam

Anonymous said...

What do you mean?