There are lush green trees everywhere; betel nut trees, banana, Sal, coconut grow in abundant in addition to umpteen other varieties of bushes and trees in jungles. The climate is unpolluted and the place is famous for heaviest rainfalls in India. There are big ponds called beelsin local Assamese language where so many kinds of birds many of them migratory live. There are bar-headed goose, pin tail duck, grey legged goose, mallards, white and grey pelican and northern lapwing. These birds stay here from October to February when there is bitter cold in their homelands and they live here in relative warmer climes. The most famous of the beels are Nimatighat and Kokilamukh though there are beels everywhere.
Brahamputra river, called Luit by locals flows throughout the state’s length; it brings with it fertile soil and deposits it in the river beds. Every seed once thrown in the soil immediately germinates and grow before eyes. Many beautiful birds like pigeons: grey, reddish, white and mottled; green pigeons, songbird myanahs, bulbuls, crows live in the boughs of trees.
I wrote this when I was in Assam. When the winter begins to set in, it announces its arrival by the forming the fog in the morning. Due to the proximity of the river and lot of greenery causing the air to be heavy and pregnant with moisture. The streetlights seem to be lazily dozing off in the winter foggy nights; their light seems to be like a bird trapped in a web of dense fog and fluttering to break the snare and get free. In the morning the light seem to be tired like a prostitute who has not slept one wink during the night.
The people walking yonder seem to be like wraiths; they appear and disappear suddenly around the corners. When there is breeze the fog glides from one place to another riding on the breeze causing dappled light and shadows. The fog causes shadow shifting sorcery and in a moment the light becomes dark and vice versa. As the day progresses and arrives at noon, the fog vanishes and everything shines resplendently in the sun; the leaves of trees become translucent and shine brightly. Soon it is night again; the sun is gone; the fog again returns along with the night to hang like a gauge over everything. There is pal of gloom; the lights are again yellow and sick.
In the modern world everywhere, the industrial revolution is ushering automation in every field: be it a automobile, telephone, airplane, home gadgets and traditional hand makers are in trouble if they don’t adapt themselves to these changes. Because automation means mass production of items. Mass production or assembly line production of the articles or gadgets is like asexual reproduction where the product items are almost identical to each other and there is very small degree of error usually in parts per million. Thus mass production through assembly produces monotonous items whereas when it is hand crafted, the personality of the creator is reflected in the product and each creation becomes unique. Only problem is the limited number of the product.
Something like this is happening in the field of boat making in the North East state of India called Assam. Mighty Brahmaputra and many other rivers pass through this land making it fertile be depositing the rich alluvial soil. These rivers also provide the inhabitants with fresh fish which is the staple diet along with the rice. Rivers are also used from transportation. Thus boats play an important role in the life of people of the state. In Assam, tradition boat makers are finding it difficult to compete with the mechanized production. But still here are people who would rather cling to their generations old profession of making the boats by hands. One such person is Baler Das who is aged 70 years and hails from Kukurmara near Guwahati the capital city of Assam. He learned this art from Panewar Kalita. Sal is the wood used traditionally to make boats but now pama gach, gameri, sama and ajar are also used. An 80 feet Khel boat requires about 60 cubic feet of wood and fetches only about 12000 rupees.