Assam, Camerooned by Morocco


AFRICA’S RHINOS are hornier than Assam’s. It certainly isn’t the reason why the Dark Continent Cameroons the Northeast Indian state every tea-loving nation sips.

‘Camerooned’ is not the African equivalent of Bangalored. I am not sure if such a word exists, but it could very well mean possessing phonetic clones of places in Assam.

A few weblog-weeks back, a former colleague helped me locate Gwati in Cameroon. That place is the ‘sound-alike’ of Assam’s capital city Guwahati. A dyke in northeastern Assam has now taken me to a namesake – a place called Matmora in the Taounate region of Morocco.

Matmora, a fragile dyke in the flood-prone Dhemaji district in northeastern Assam, is often cited as the epitome of corruption. No amount of money has made this dyke strong enough to withstand river Brahmaputra’s fluid fury. The last package for flood management in Assam included Rs 99 crore for repairing this dyke.

[A section of Matmora, constructed with the geo-tube technology, was washed away on July 1. Malaysian firm Sueskira, entrusted with the project worth Rs 140 crore, has been blamed for slow progress, completing a tad over half of the 5 km long embankment.]

Morocco’s Matmora, on the other hand is a laidback place sited 49 km from the nearest Ouezzane Airport in adjoining Algeria. Laidback, because the websites don’t say much about the place besides outlining its geographical coordinates – 34°43’48” North and 5°6’0″ West.

Matmora has another African connection. The word means an underground storage pit for sorghum in Sudan.

Then there’s MatMorA, a strategic research project (2007-2011) funded partly by Research Council of Norway’s Climit Programme and partly by Norsk Hydro, the Oslo-headquartered Norwegian aluminium and renewable energy company that merged with rival Statoil to form StatoilHydro in October 2007.

Matmora also led me to Metamora in US, a native Indian name meaning “among the hills”. An Indian hero, son of Massosoit and the subject of a popular play in the 1840s, carried that name, as did a station on the Detroit & Bay City Railroad in 1885. This station in Michigan is south of the city of Lapeer.

There’s a Metamora village in Woodford County, Illinois, too. Measuring 1.4 sq miles, this village is a growing suburb of Peoria under Illinois Metropolitan Statistical Area. A third Metamora, a canal town, is in Indiana.

The websites claim Indiana’s is the most alluring of all Metamoras in the US. For, this Metamora transports you to life in the early 19th century America with horse-drawn canal boats that fueled the Southeastern Indiana economy until their displacement by the railroad. The town apparently is straight out of a Western.

Apparently, because seeing is believing. For that, might have to make some money from our Matmora to fly to their Metamora.

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About rahconteur

A mid-career journalist who's worked horizontally across India - from Arunachal Pradesh to Gujarat
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8 Responses to Assam, Camerooned by Morocco

  1. Mrinal Talukdar says:

    Great copy. More than a decade back Medini Choudhury wrote a novel called Banduka Behar. He travels from Chandmari(his home) to Dibrugarh in an old ASTC bus and from Kukurmura(known as Hedyatpur) to Dibrugarh he narrates the story of each place in a masterly manner. Read it.

  2. Sushmita says:

    Rahul, think u shd consider widening the scope of the Namesake game u started, and factor in the whole of India. We could all help u track down similarly-sounding soulmates of Indian cities and settlements and even dykes from all over the world, and prove Planet Earth is a global village — all over again!

    • rahconteur says:

      Yep, this Namesake thing is getting curiouser. But I am not sure if a pan-india thing will be as interesting. Recall at least 6 Phulpurs in UP, for instance. And there are so many ‘guris’ across Bengal and Assam with the same prefixes. But worth giving it a try.

  3. Rajib says:

    Amazing piece, really.

    I am a great fan of the titles that u allot to ur stories. I knew how poor I was in my school to give a title to my precis and would often end up writing a title that is longer than the precis. Actually, the first thing a reader sees is the title and if it catches the eye than one keeps going with it. Your’s is certainly an eye catcher.

    • rahconteur says:

      Title is to a story just as morning is to a day. It gives you an idea what the story would be like till nightfall or ‘the end’.

  4. Bonojit Hussain says:

    Indeed interesting piece.

    I came across some interest anecdotes myself in Korea.

    In Korean langauge tea is “cha”. Rice in Korean is “sal” and cooked rice is “baap”. Quite close to Assamese!!! Mother in Korean is aomma and Father is abbu.

    But the most fascinating information I came across is about the famous Assamese feeble of “Dighol Thangiya”; surprisingly it also happens to be the national feeble of Korea. I am sure it not coincidental. When I was in Guwahati early this year, one of my father’s friend shared with me that the feeble of “Dighol Thangiya” was collected by Laxmi Nath Bezbarua from a Muslim rice trader of Lakhimpur.

    Now the fascinating part …. I recently discovered that in 18th century, a group of Muslim rice traders from Eastern India settled in some villages around the southern coastal area of the Korean peninsula. I see a connection here, either the feeble travelled from Korea to Assam or it reached Korea from Assam.

    I am quite fascinated by this connection …. if time allows, in future I might do some research on this 🙂

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