Guwahati is a big and bustling city but we stayed in a comfortable Airbnb in a residential suburb. We often enjoy staying on the outskirts of Indian cities as it gets you away from the busy, touristy areas and there is good access to markets and shopping areas used by local people. People in Guwahati seem quite friendly and several times we were stopped on the street by men asking whether we needed directions or help with where to go. Throughout our travels, inquisitive young men often come up to us to ask where we are from. They seem fascinated by Paul’s height and often want selfies with him or both of us. In our experience Indian women almost never approach or speak to a stranger. As the men are generally more comfortable talking to Paul, my time here has sometimes felt surprisingly lonely, and we have both been thrown back upon one another for company even more than usual. Before coming away we thought we would meet other travellers, but there are few foreigners in this part of India and most days we don’t see any other “westerners” at all. In some of the villages we are so unusual that people stare and the children giggle if you catch their eye. It was the same when I went into a salon in Guwahati to ask for a haircut. All conversation and most activity came to a halt while the (male) stylist got to work. He did a good job though and it cost only around £7 – about an eighth of what I would have paid in Wokingham!
On our evening in Guwahati we found a great place to eat called “Gam’s Delicacy Restaurant”. They serve Assamese food and the manager spent some time talking with us and gave his personal recommendations about what dishes to order. Afterwards we walked around the market stalls which genuinely had some fruit and vegetables that we have never seen before. The area also has many Indian sweet shops. One shop owner encouraged us to try several free samples and we bought some delicious fruit nut and toffee type balls as well as some bright orange sweet meal squares beautifully decorated with silver gilt.
On the following morning the driver for our NE India tour turned up and off we set in his comfortable SUV to explore the state of Meghalaya and Kaziranga National Park.