From Assam with Love is about all aspects of Assam from the viewpoint of a Proud Assamese.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

'Assam 1864' by Oscar Flex: a refreshing study of Assam during the bygone era

So far, Assam and Assamese people during the British regime have been viewed through the eyes of British historians like Edward Gait and the records found in the accounts of several Assam Histories written by  Dr Surya Kumar Bhuyan's history books etc. The topic of today's blog Assam 1864, is on the other hand is an account of a German writer who could see what is going on on Assam during the British Raj through his unbiased viewpoint of a simple onlooker. He came to Assam to make a career in the Tea garden industry  in Assam which was hot business during that period.


Oscar Flex could see the life of aristocratic Assamese people, life of contract laborers in Tea Gardens, terible tropical weather of Assam even in that pre-global-warming period(!) and also the colonial high-handedness and greed of British Tea planters. Despite being an European and one 'enlightened' person Oscar Flex could feel the sentiment of local people and knew how to handle them. And yes, he too was aware of the laziness of Assamese people as a  whole.

This book is a interesting read for those who want to dig the past and become aware of the making of histories. I found the interesting because Oscar's observations are quite relevant till date, when he says that people of Assam are easy to handle when you place them in higher pedestal, and they love to be praised. People in Tea Gardens used tantra and mantra to cure diseases and in the 21st century too they are quite keeping such customs alive.

Apart from the critical viewpoint one can read the book as a good translation work in Assamese literature. Barring a few spelling errors the translation is straightforward and easy going. As a first hand account of the life of Tea Planters and Assamese society of  19th century Assam the book is really a collector's asset.

Here is the book at a glance
Title: Assam 1864.
Written by Oscar Flex.
Translated by Dr Salim M Ali
Published by GL Publications, Assam.
Price: 180.00/-


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