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Day 97: Dibrugah to Majuli Island

Majuli Island, Nagaland and Assam 
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Upper-class on the ferry to Majuli Island.
Michael Palin - HimalayaWith a steady chug of diesel, we pull out into the wide brown stream, which, judging from the tree trunks, leaves and clumps of jungle scudding by, is not as lazy as it looked. We pick our way carefully among low sandbanks, some of which are cultivated. Ruddy shelducks sunbathe on the beaches. Cormorants perch on the fishing poles. Colours are soft and vaporous: muted greens, strips of golden sand and a huge haze-blue sky above.

My travelling companion is a well-informed young man called Maan Barua, whose father owns a resort hotel in nearby Kaziranga National Park. He's 20 years old and knows an awful lot more than I ever will. From him I learn the sex of the Brahmaputra, one of only two male rivers in India, and that ruddy shelducks mate for life. He's also promised to show me a river dolphin, if one passes.

After an hour and a half on the water the engine beat slows and the traditional man with a stick (in this case a bamboo pole) prods the shallow mud banks as we approach the island. As soon as the bank is within leaping distance, half the roof-class passengers fling themselves off and race up the hill to the bus. The bus driver, clearly enjoying his moment of power, sounds the horn again and again, prompting more and more people to death-defying leaps.
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  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 97: Dibrugah to Majuli Island
  • Country/sea: India
  • Place: Dibrugah
  • Book page no: 228

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