Dibrugarh : River songs from the land of tea.

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I cannot imagine myself not writing an article on Dibrugarh. I was born here and since then a never ending love affair has made me surrender a part of my heart to this forgotten land. Beautiful memories linger in my mind, many of them, created by the relationship I share with the place I call home. Dibrugarh has been instrumental in the making of the person that I am. Born anywhere else, I might not have understood the importance of peace and easy going rural life.

Dibrugarh is a beautiful town situated on the banks of the mighty Brahmaputra river and is one of the eastern most parts of India. Tea gardens constitute a major portion of the town and the finest tea of the world is grown here, hence giving the town the prestige of being called as the ‘tea capital of the world’. Numerous tea gardens dot the town and its bordering areas, providing a breathtaking landscape of lush greenery. One is never out of sight of miles and miles of tea gardens and the sweet awakening aroma of tea never leaves a person’s sense of smell. Adding to this beauty is the presence of the mighty Brahmaputra which borders the town extensively and also disconnects the town permanently from the land on the other side. The other side has always been an object of mystery for everybody in the town for crossing the Brahmaputra is a risky business and very few brave fishermen dare to go there. What lies there is still very much unknown; probably many species of plants, animals and birds are waiting to be discovered. The combination of the river and tea gardens provides Dibrugarh with an old world charm where life is so laid-back that I would easily include it in my list of the laziest places on Earth.

Because of its eastern most location, Dibrugarh is in a way cut off from mainland India. This means a minimum industrial activity, the only major industry being tea, which is in itself connected to nature- where millions of tea leaves release oxygen in the air and regulate the carbon-dioxide. This results in crystal clear blue skies and an unusually clean air to breathe. Dibrugargh is a river town and its culture is very much connected to the Brahmaputra River. Folktales and stories of the river are passed from generation to generation and without the fertile soil provided by the Brahmaputra, north east India would be nothing but a desert. The first time I saw my hometown from the air before landing at the Dibrugarh airport, I was left speechless. Looking down from my cabin, I could see miles and miles of green land, most of them covered by huge tea estates, and on the other side of Dibrugarh I could see the mighty Brahmaputra cutting off the town from the distant Himalayas. The air seemed so clean and unpolluted compared to many other towns and cities of India. It has now become a habit for me to ask for a seat next to a window whenever I fly to Dibrugarh for the sight of my hometown from high above has created a special place in my heart.

Life starts early here and many people start their day with jogging and taking leisurely early morning strolls around the tea gardens. Early morning is the best time to indulge in the aromas of tea. The leaves are fresh from the night and the sweet scent of the finest tea of the world is at its best. One can see tribal women picking the fresh leaves. There is nothing more awakening and energizing than the early morning strolls in these tea gardens. The mist provides an added bonus. People depart for their respective jobs during the day and among them many are fishermen. Because of the mightiness of the Brahmaputra and the abundance of river food, the town harbors an extraordinary fishing community and many different techniques are used to get the fish out of water. The next pinnacle of everyday life in Dibrugarh is the afternoon. As dusk approaches, people start gathering along the river side to see the magnificent display of colors created by the sun setting in the distant Himalayas; families with kids, young couples in search of a romantic escape, students playing a game of football or cricket, naturalists absorbing the beauty, local Rastafarian boys smoking a joint in contemplation. The sunsets in Dibrugarh are extremely beautiful and the interference of the Himalayas on the way of the setting sun creates an amazing aura. As with all small towns situated in the country side, days end soon here and people sleep early.

This exposure to a laid back life has made me understand the importance of taking things easy. We should work to live but not live to work. Taking the time off to see the sunset is more important than being busy earning an extra buck or two. Spending time with your children and making them understand and admire nature is something that is much needed today. We tend to be attached to our work-spaces but it is the outdoors that we should be attached to. I would have never realized these things if I were living in cities or industrialized places. It makes me glad that I belong to Dibrugarh.

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