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Himalaya

Day 97: Dibrugah to Majuli Island

Michael Palin - HimalayaAfter a restorative break, it's time to move on from the world of fresh bed linen every night, a whisky every evening and a copy of the Assam Tribune every afternoon. I think they used to call it the colonial life and I can feel myself slipping into it.

The danger is that in faithfully and tastefully recreating the colonial lifestyle you recreate colonial attitudes as well. There is no shortage of labour in India, and this, along with residual effects of the caste system and poor education, results in there being a lot of people happy to wait around and be told what to do. I look forward to my Scotch at sunset but I know that if I pour it myself, jobs might be at stake.

So servility is perpetuated.

The gates are unlocked for us and we leave Mancotta's past behind and drive west. For several miles a vast plain of small, trim bushes, all neatly clipped and standing at a uniform height of about 36 inches stretches away on either side. Tall trees rise from among the bushes to shield them from the full glare of the sun. In this quiet period before the new shoots start to appear women in brightly-coloured shawls and scarves move through the glades, grooming and trimming. It must have been a listless time for plantation managers. A time for chota pegs and perhaps a visit to the lines.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 97: Dibrugah to Majuli Island
  • Country/sea: India
  • Place: Dibrugah
  • Book page no: 227

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