A sprawling, shabby town with a municipality that seemed pretty much dysfunctional.
This is, of course, not the Guwahati I expected to see. Impressions gathered from conversations, satellite maps and history notes had created a picture in my mind of a great city on the banks of the Brahmaputra river. A metropolis, a hub for seven colorful states of India's North-East.
All my expectations began to crumble as soon as we drove out of the airport, towards the city. Empty, uncertain plots of land line both sides of the road. As darkness sets in we drive past the old, crumbling buildings of Guwahati University.
There were hardly any street lights, pavements or place-boards anywhere. Lights from hundreds of little shops lit the roadsides where people parked their bicycles and cars wherever randomly. Despite the apparent greenery and availability of water, there were no grand trees to be seen. Instead, the byepass was lined with famished, scrawny Ashoka trees, planted just two feet from each other...
Is this the city which sent Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the Rajya Sabha? Is this the state that has had a "stable" government for the past 13 years??