Tribal: the word has a stigma of social and cultural backwardness. Yet, the definition is changing as the internet continues to penetrate rural communities. At least for the Bodo’s – the scheduled Assamese tribe I stayed with for a couple days – the changing definition is intertwined with globalization.
People are people, supposedly.
It wasn’t that my expectations went unfulfilled. The experience was insightful and Kokrahjar was by far the most hospitable place I’ve had the pleasure to stay in. Yet, their joint candor and demeanor was, at times, almost uncomfortably familiar. Maybe I was expecting too much.
I don’t know.
Now isn’t the time to write another manifesto. Instead, I‘ll talk about my last day in the fabled northeastern state.
Adil and I woke up around 3:30 in the morning. After we got ready, we grabbed our luggage and left for to the bus stand. Looking out at the dimly lit compound, the Stalin-esque vibe I got from this socialist relic was fading. Regardless of the political system, the people here seem happy. Around 4:15, we hopped aboard the bus. Although the ride was rocky, it was nice to feel the sun rise and watch the world re-animate. At the station, we bought two tickets to Guwahati: Assam’s largest city and our final destination.
Trip length: 4.5 hours. Cost: 35 rupees. Conversion: $0.52.
The train arrived in a couple minutes. Following protocol, that is, India’s ever-present social Darwinism, we rushed in to find seats. Claiming the first set of empty benches, we guarded our seats territorially, like hippos. Soon enough, the engines kicked into gear, churning on to the next stop.