20 June 2006

The Bumpy Ride

Most villages in Nagaland have two simple syllables, things like Ka, Ko, Ta, To... followed by a Ma or Wa... Kisama, Khonoma, Longwa, Tofema... like that... anyway, after a taste of see-the-artificial-tribal-huts at Kisama, we decided to go to a real village - Khonoma. The driver decided to take a shortcut, which had countless sharp stones popping out of the entire 20 odd km of slushy mud road and potholes were liberally strewn everywhere. The ride was so bumpy that I had an erection 20 minutes into the drive.

Khonoma was pretty. I wonder why film producers don't shoot lead-pair-running-around-trees videos in such villages, instead of Swiss meadows. We walked a bit, with Paulo dropping early hints on her dislike for any form of physical activity, walking in particular... anyway, more on that later.

The skies are perpetually dark and gloomy. Rain is a regular occurence. People go about their work paying little attention to the rain. We took shelter in a wooden house under construction. Supong never used his phone to make calls or send messages. He was really irritated with Reliance because they refused to allow outgoing calls once his balance became negative. Anyway, if he wasn't playing some ringtone, he would be taking aim at Paulo to click pictures. Mostly the latter. He told Joy and me, but not Paulo, about his his girlfriend. Anyway, Paulo thought he (too) was sweet.

We got a local SIM card for my mobile, which was valid in the 7 Northeastern states. So Supong would message his girlfriend from our phone. We couldn't refuse, nor could we resist eavesdropping. While we redefined frugality while using the limited balance, the writer in Supong came out through our phone. One particular message deserves special mention... 750 characters long, with exceptional attention to spelling, grammar and punctuation... he ended the message saying "This is my friends' phone. They have balance, so i am using it."

Anyway, Supong did take really good care of us, putting in much effort to ensure that we're happy with what we experienced. But for him, we would've had a rough time.

14 June 2006

Rented house? Mother Alive?

In Kohima, Joy's friend's (or contacts, as he affectionately calls such people) Supong and Woti offered to show us around town... Supong's dad (referred to as Uncle T) works in the Tourism Dept., and gave us valuable guidance and help.

People are irrational at times, and Uncle T was very impressed by Paulo.. I think he was looking at her as a prospective match for Supong.. so during our introductions, he reserved a special set of questions exclusively for Paulo...

What does your dad do?

Do you live in a rented house or...?

And then the shocker...

Is your mother alive?

Paulo turned and looked at me in shock, like I had the answer buried in my mouth..

So while we were at a cathedral, with Joy clicking away, Unc T suggested a neatly framed picture of Paulo standing in front of the cathedral, like a 6 yr old on her first excursion...

Paulo's final comment is that Unc T was sweet.

We went to some heritage village called Kisama.. they have huts resembling those of the 16 Naga tribes. It's a typical touristy place.. too artificial. Joy enquired about the number of tribes to every other person he met... he'd say something like "so, how many tribes... totally, how many tribes... in the whole of nagaland, how many tribles... how many major tribes..." Even worse, Joy asked the names of the tribes.. like he'd point to a certain hut and ask which tribe it belonged to... like the 2 kb memory card in his head is going to care enough to retain any of it.

11 June 2006

Tequila Shopping

I broke the ice with my dad yesterday.. told him I wanted to go liquor-shopping while we were in Pondicherry... Those That We Don't Speak Of died that afternoon. So he drove me from wine shop to wine shop... I wonder why they're called 'Wine' shops when, atleast in Tamil Nadu, I haven't ever seen anybody buy Wine from one of those shops... anyway, I was hunting for some Tequila to celebrate my last couple of weeks in Madras (or so goes the excuse).

The first cramped, dirty wine shop that I walked into had some 5 drunk men dispersed all around the counter... I asked for the Tequila, and one of the drunkards screams "What! Shakeela eh?" (for the uninitiated, Shakeela is a critically acclaimed porn star in the south... for more info, google/wiki)... and everyone laughs on my face for the Shakeela joke. I enlightened them that Tequila is not a brand of Whisky or Rum, but a drink by itself... then, that drunkard who mentioned Shakeela was so thrilled with the laughter he evoked that he chose to puke the exact same joke three more times, and they all laughed like it was the first time they heard it. Alcohol... madness.

The last time that I'd gone to Pondy, I went to buy some cheap DVDs... stupid me mentioned City Of God, Amores Perros, Water, Hyderabad Blues... only to receive the blankest of stares... then I asked for The Motorcyle Diaries, and the guy produced a XX soft porn movie titled something like 'The Diaries Of '... when I laughed and declined, he insisted that this is what I had in mind, and that The Motorcycle Diaries was a misrepresentation in my head... then he started on how I won't regret buying it... *yawn*

Lastly, quite a few shops in Pondy have huge boards screaming 'Cost Price Shop'... I wonder how they make any profit.

9 June 2006

Tobacco is injurious to your lungs.

The market in Dimapur rests on the rail tracks. Only a handful of trains ply on these tracks everyday, so they spread out their stuff out on the tracks, under the shade of the flyover and sit there till sunset... the polished rails make excellent seats for the cobblers, newspaper guys, corn sellers...

We visited Joy's friend - Michael's place for dinner. Paulo eats like a pig if the food is free. We had to beg her to spare the bones of the poor little fish she was devouring.

We made our way to Kohima, which reminded me a lot of Gangtok, Sikkim. The cost of living is surprisingly high for a town lost in a dim corner of the map, with an overland route to Dimapur being the only connection to the rest of the world. Liquor and cigarettes are officially banned in Nagaland, but it doesn't greatly affect the efforts to get intoxicated. Smuggled liquor and ciggies are present everywhere... in any case, chewing (and spitting) pan is legal... like they have a problem with people taking nicotine into their lungs, but mouth is different, it's OK. Absurd.

6 June 2006

The Meat Scene

We'd come this far, so we had to see the exotic meat scene on offer in this part of the country... so we found our way to the local market in Dimapur... for starters there were the usual stuff like pork legs, fish, chicken... then we found a bunch of dogs, with their mouths tied up and stuffed into gunny bags, stacked up in one corner... I turned around to look at big frogs, some five of them tied together at their feet and put in a little tub, with every frog trying to jump off in a different direction, the tub shook and wobbled... then we saw maggots, around 2-3 inches long, bright yellow and green in colour mostly... there were also brown fried maggots on offer adjacent to the colourful live ones, which will move just enough to cause nausea if you have a weak tummy... this was as far removed from my tambrahm roots (from my early years) in Mylapore as anything that I've experienced before.

A few days later in Kohima, we saw huge catfish and eels... the tubs are so cramped with the catfish and eels (separate tubs) that some of them manage to jump out on to the wet (open) market floor... so as we walked thru the narrow paths, we would suddenly find eels and catfish slithering on the floor... once in a while, someone would grab it and throw it back into the tub. Must be a sucky life.