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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

HOW BIZARRE!!!




Friday, December 5, 2008

and yet...

...today we still seem to miss the point of it all. Maharashtra finally has a new CM, over a week after the Mumbai terror attacks. Why? Because the parties in power could not decide upon a replacement. Is that a united front we're showing the world? And then we have our ever-active news channels telling us that the Pakistan Foreign Minister had spoken what could only be understood as a warning to India- that our External Affairs Minister's "aggressive" statements could only aggravate the situation between the two countries. Now is that respect? Will India continue to be a dove even after its list of 20 Most Wanted is blatantly refused by Pakistan who had spoken of "co-operation" in the wake of the terror attacks? And then we had the Kerela CM apologising to Major Unnikrishnan's father..thats better, you say, but did our esteemed leader ever spend a thought on the matter, before he acted? If he had, would there have been the need to so publicly apologise?? And here we have corruption so extreme our forces could not even get the bullet proof jackets they deserved!! And yet...India Shining, we want to say.

and soon hereafter we will have men in uniform celebrated for their bravery, decorated for their role in neutralising the attack. will we then see unbiased recognition? Will that be proof that there is hope after all, that the Armed Forces, at least, can guarantee us a justice that is truly blind? Or will it be yet another case of politics even among men in whose hands our security has fallen??

And here we are, Christmas round the corner. As i brought out the hard-pressed, pushed-in-its-paper-carton Christmas tree and pluck its branches to showcase its glory, the exercise takes on something more than the usual mindless, carefree act of Christmas decoration round every year. This time, i think, even this lifeless tree responds so well to the touch of my fingers...then why does my country and those i've put in place to lead it, not feel my pulse??? I put up the candy sticks, the stars, balls, little drums, bells and angels and then gloat in the satisfaction of a pot-pourri of a beautiful whole from out of the pieces that were shelved in a plastic bag the year before.

and yet the size of my eyes, the language of my forefathers, the faith i cling to and the politics i support continue to alienate me from the whole which could have been so beautiful...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

still musing

Election Day in Mizoram and I get out of the house after staying in for around 40 hours (which I don’t do unless im sick)- and this too, at the insistence of a friend who woke me up around 11 to go cast our votes. I was determined to cast my vote, but hadn’t determined the time, well, that was fixed. Still feeling weak from dehydration after two days of not being able to contain my food, we walked slowly up to Sikulpui, and on to Sikulsen where we pressed the Electronic Voting Machine to sing to our favourite candidate’s tune! Amazing to see how much MPF has succeeded in bringing calm to an atmosphere usually charged with political tension. On previous election days (I’ve only voted twice but I do live right at the foot of the voting venue used every election-:D) there would be rows of party workers sitting on benches facing each other, loud music blaring from each counter. Party flags and posters would line these counters where workers busily called voters to help them look up their serial number in the Electoral Roll and it was a carnival-like air that filled my neighbourhood. The number of people making way to a particular counter was the criteria upon which that party candidate’s vote polled at that polling station would be judged , and statistics usually confirmed that. And by evening, many a time, we had an unscrupulous section of the voting public and an equally dodgy section of party workers working out what can only be considered shady deals that stood against the true spirit of democracy.

This year has been beautiful- no loud music, no party flags except for the banners of the three most prominent candidates visibly put up near the entrance to Sikulpui. And in the long counters were young people from within our community- YMA volunteers doing what biased party workers did in other years. The moment I walked out to Sikulpuikawn, I just knew this year was different and it brought real warmth to my heart cos this was a scene that said, “There’s hope yet” and im sure it was the same at all other poling stations as well- lets see what kind of reports come in to us in the following days.

And I wasn’t particularly inclined to feel happy either- 3 days of Mumbai on TV, all the while gritting my teeth in anger and taking inadequate breaths in fear; and falling sick right after learning Operation Cyclone was successful and talking to the one for whom I had feared the most. No, I wasn’t particularly inclined to feel happy. But it was a good feeling to be saddled with, notwithstanding the fact that it did not blow away my anger over the terror attack or the nausea that came with every smell of the rich food I usually loved.

For even after heroes were made and India still remained an un-warring nation, how can one get over the loss of Mumbai and the anger that must, needs, accompany it? The audacity of the young and capable men who made the nation cry still overwhelms, the conviction with which they carried out their dangerous mission still bewilders and the impudence with which they believed they could bring India to its knees, and almost did, still leaves a very bad taste. And in the aftermath, the first things we hear on TV is the blame-game that the powers that be have already started, of measures taken that could have meant so much had they been given attention to only a few days before and that made me think- can India ever really come together? Can we really ever get over the bureaucratic selfishness of every agency which would rather do a little in order to save their skins should anything go wrong rather than admit that some mistakes had indeed been made? Would India have mourned or been shocked as much had an attack of the same magnitude taken place at some decrepit, slummish settlement and not on the symbols of opulence and economic inequality among India’s millions?

Take, for example, the blatant manner in which Narendra Modi and L.K.Advani chose to appear at the targets right while the operation was underway to clear these sites- maximum impact approach!!! And after our 'hallowed' leaders chose such a time and place to grab media time, who can blame the ordinary citizens who were dying to appear on camera, making their way to the sites inspite of police warnings, some even getting shot by stray bullets in the process??? That was a clear case of 'Me first' attitude we have seen time and again. And as the TV guys pointed out time and again, the Prime Minister and L.K.Advani chose to travel to Mumbai seperately- need i say more???

And i cant understand how they could call the NSG the 'elite' force when they had to wait for hours at the airport for an aircraft to take them to Mumbai even as the nation waited for them to deliver?? And now three aircrafts are to be given to them!! My definition of 'elite' cannot stretch so far. And i believe in all these years of the NSG's existence, they have received training and are expected to bring results in cases of terror and hijack operations, and now we know they had been doing this all along without even an aircraft to their name?? There is a lack somewhere, its only a thought away for even the simple-minded where this lack could be.

Last night i heard a foreign tourist, one of those evacuated from the Taj who spoke of hundreds of policemen on the ground floor of the Taj, who had 'fear in their eyes'. Now what were they doing there, and hundreds?? I dont wanna end up being an eternal sceptic but left me wondering- is the police force to ill-trained for our times? Are images i have of men in khaki only to be those i've seen of them harassing auto rickshaw drivers and vulnerable looking young college students? The first thing that cam to mind when i heard that lady, though, was the story id read a few days back on the plane (i already said im lazy, i dont even read the papers regularly)where the story was about men in the police force against whom it had been proven that they'd framed 'innocents' and passed them as terrorists!! For what? Possibly monetary rewards, promotions or maybe as an answer to the immense pressure the higher-ups kept up on them to perform!!!

And what are the intelligence reports the security people and the Government is supposed to have ignored?? vague information on the possibilityof an attack by men who could be supposed as terrorists on any of the places in the huge city called Mumbai..or anything more specific which could be translated into action? Was RAW actually feeding the security forces anything substantial or a list of possibilities which, if acted upon, could have crippled the forces way out of their league? Was this information specific enough or could we just conclude that they were a bunch of 'save face' attempts should anything untoward turn up after all?? Questions and more questions are all i have right now and that, possibly is why im feeling so much anger and frustration cos this simple mind can only stretch so far!!

At the end of the day, one can only mourn for those whose lives were lost in that mindless attack, stories which would bring tears to the eyes of people who dont even cry at sad movies. One can only salute the heroes who braved the fire that the rest of their nation would be saved. And through all of that, one cant help feeling too little is being done, too many are trying to save faces and so many more are still trying to point a finger any which way they can.

When the funeral of ATS chief Karkare was being brought live on TV, Mr. Rajdeep Sardesai ( a man i love to admire!) spoke to former Mumbai Police Commissioner Julio Ribeiro just as i had opened this month's Readers Digest to his article entitled' The Testimony of a Christian'. And i thought- such a lovely coincidence it might not even be a coincidence' and realised this was true as soon as i read his lines "I am a Christian...It is quite amazing that i did not think myself as a Christian all these years! I was an Indian." And thats exactly how i feel- inspite of my small eyes, my snub nose and my faith- I am and feel an Indian! I only wish everyone else would too ( and as i sign off with these words, im specifically thinkin of the infamous comment on "women with lipsticks" by a politician)

and before i go, check this video for the captions the user who posted it on youtube has lined it with...and here we are, wanting to put up a united front!! huiham!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZzBwhmnpzIs

Saturday, November 29, 2008

took 26/11 to wake me up

How lazy can one get??? Im not specifically intending to find out but i believe...very very lazy!!! For proof, one only need to look at this blog, it hasnt been fed for forever!!! So many days have passed, so many things have happened yet for someone who just never had the strength to do something constructive, like filling in her blog, keeping an un-digital diary(the old handwritten ones:), life just happened and got over with it as soon as the moment passed. Its a little like the Oral Literature i've been reading up on where theorists say every rendition is a performance, there can be no repetition cos no two performances can be the same. And that single performance only lives in the moment of its performance- is that confusing?- well shouldnt be but enough of this rambling

Now why do i talk of 26/11...or as they say India's 9/11 (though why we should have a 9/11, i dont understand, when we can just have our 26/11)??? The Mumbai terror shook me up from my lethargy, thats why!!

Being such a bum, i dont even sit watching TV since finishing all episodes of 'Desperate Housewives' on DVD except for the snippets i catch on the local channel. So, shamed as i am to say it, i didnt even know anything had happened till the morning of November 27 when i got a msg from a friend telling me to check out the news- this was around 5am. I know the hour was unearthly but this friend who texted had an unearthly task- being one of the NSG officers deployed to neutralise the situation in Mumbai. From then, I've been hogging the TV as tho making up for lost time. And before going on, lemme say, the Indian news channels are great!! They absolutely made it possible for an average citizen, namely me, sitting in this small seemingly unaffected corner of the country to follow that which was rocking the nation out of its comfort zone!!!!

And what a horrific rocking the nation took!!! Every 5 to 10 minutes, i was compelled to switch between NDTV and CNN IBN to see if either channel had something the other might not have yet, to see if the end was any nearer in one than in the other- it wasnt. But pushing the buttons of a remote with one finger was an activity, at least, that offered some kind of relief from the tense monotony of the situation a TV audience found herself in when her country was being raped by a group of well-trained gangsters, when such "remorseless" (Im quoting a Mrco here) guys were waiting to kill anyone who dared to neutralise them- among whom was a loved one- thats how bad it was for me. No, thats not it, it was far worse than that but my vocabulary and creativity just dont get further than this!!!

Now im wide awake- 4 days after the initial attack, breathing again cos the only one i know in the thick of the matter is safe, cos India can say, 'We are not weak, our men ca outdo the best you've trained' and cos I believe the strong sentiments voiced throughout one of the longest hours the country has been through will be translated into some form of constructive action. It has definetely worked on me and my blog- for now!!!!

It reminded me that I am an Indian through and through. It didnt matter that i had small eyes, and the North Indians i was used to in my years of education outside irritated me with their 'Chinky' barbs!!! I was and very much an Indian. And this is the way i gotta stay- no choice ( and if i did have a choice, i genuinely dont know what that choice would be). This Mizo girl has accepted her identity. Love for myself , i think gave way to love for my country, at least for a while back in between those harrowing hours. That is why this multi-coloured nation of people who sometimes dont even care to acknowledge the sameness of its different hues, needs to start learning! Learn to understand that its differences, its colours, are its strength!!!

This was a perfect example of 'tochh rambling' and there's more to come. Im not done with my sentiments yet..but i can hear dinner call..

Monday, July 7, 2008

Dear Dini- a Personal Journey

Dear Dini,
It’s the 15th of March again and my first thought was today is my baby’s birthday. Then I saw you smiling at me from the photograph we had taken together (October, ’07) and it struck me- you had left this day last year. It was tough! I haven’t gotten over it yet nor am I sure I ever will. But life lies ahead of me, full of promises, victories and inevitable defeats. Its only you who’s missing- the one I wanted to share them all with.

Four months later than me did you see the world but something made me feel much older. Maybe it was your refusal to be touched by the depressions and disappointments I felt much at this world. Like a fresh wind or a sunflower in bloom, your presence brought a warmth into my life I had never known elsewhere. The sunshine never left your eyes even when your pain was bent on destroying you. How could I ever forget my summer vacation in ’95 when your body was wrecked by the cancer eating it up. On the day we left, you were too weak to even rise from your bed or to say your goodbyes but the hope of life I saw in your eyes has never left me. I wondered then where from you got your strength but now, believe me, I know.

Never had I ever been a new kid anywhere before I came to Shimla and though I was wildly excited, I couldn’t help being terrified as well. That was when you held my hand and I saw for the first time, the leonine strength beneath the quiet unassuming personality. It never fails to amaze me when you display this strength at the most disturbing times. You were always one strong lady.

Ladies, that was what we were supposed to be in school, remember? We always had trouble ‘cause we were never just so fine. But now, I understand that being able to wear a skirt gracefully does not make one a lady. Any knight would be proud to call you his lady.

“I Mohabbat You”, you shouted in the corridor and I screamed, “I hmangaih you”. That must have been the only times we ever said these words; but we knew we felt them in our earts. Forever praying for each other was the promise we had made- and we agreed promises are not meant to be broken…

our duets at school were called, ‘MTV Unplugged’- the biggest compliment I ever got for my singing till date. It was high praise indeed for two who couldn’t carry a tune on tape. But conversations we could carry and how! Those tapes of ours are one of my favourite treasures- they seem to bring you closer. Im just so sorry I didn’t have the courage to listen to some I saw at your place last Christmas.

Those ‘way into the night’ talks are one of the many things I miss about not having you around. I still fall hopelessly in and out of love and my latest crush is the best yet. Your approval wold have made it complete, but how can I tell when you’re not around. The ‘Maheshes’ and ‘Dominics’ are still with me, that’s why sometimes I fail to understand why you’re not. ‘Maggi’ is still one of may favourite snacks but it isn’t my everyday brunch anymore. Nor do I help your Mom sort out clothes for the kids. Maybe she’s afraid I’ll have the first pick again. But that just wont be fun without you around.

Slipping into the boys’ dorm at BCS, getting caught and arriving home after midnight was one of the most scandalous things we ever did together. That was one terrifying situation but now it is a good story in my book of experiences. Many of the pages in this book are full of you- your laughter rings through the and I even see your lopsided walk every now and then. These pages are dog-eared for I have flipped through them alone or when I am generous enough to share them with others.

A lot has changed with me- physically, emotionally and most of all, spiritually. That last letter you wrote me (31st December) told what a blessed Christmas in bed you had, so in contrast to mine that year. Also your sermonizing (I know you hate the word) about how life just passes us by without our being aware of it brought home the truth about what this life really means and how precious it is. There’s just so much difference you’ve made in my life- we held each other when we were weak and rejoiced together when in strength. I miss you so much but I know you are with me in spirit. The power of believing is in me now and Job is my favourite Bible character too.

You wrote, “This will be the last letter I’ll ever write to you (for this year)’ and it was, for always. But you can see, I haven’t stopped writing so be sure you get me loud and clear. Last year, I felt the loss of my best friend, you left a void in my life. But now I know I can share in your victory too so, save a place for me and I’ll be joining you…I promise.

JOY OF MY LIFE
I often cry myself to sleep,
Tho’ I knew you were never mine to keep
You were once the joy of my life
Wish it could have been for all time.

Seperation, it wounds my heart
‘Cause you were once so much a part
of my life, the deepest core
all my thoughts, to you I could pour.

Hard as it is to understand
You are up there in eternal land.
Missing you lots and wishing you were here
Only the memories remain, which I hold dear.

When such memories were made, I cannot say
But God in my path did you He lay
To show me life the way he wanted to
Then all too soon He parted us so.

Faith and Hope, that’s all I live with
‘Time heals’- well that’s just a myth.
The wounds may not heal
But I do appeal
To the promise that ill meet you again one day.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Yangon Diary



23-05-2008
Left home around 10:30 am with Sangtea who dropped me off at the airport. Our flight was surprisingly right on schedule and I was in security by 11:45 am. My friend David was also on the flight as were some others who were to go on the Deccan flight about half an hour after us. It was a pleasant surprise to meet up with two guys from HCU outside the airport- guys who’d been real nice while I was there at the Hyderabad University in January. While we were sitting in security, John Schlitt and the Stone Java band guys made their way in and I managed to steal a picture on my mobile with John just before joining the queue for the plane…never miss a chanceJ
The flight stopped for half an hour enroute to Kolkatta at Imphal- I hate these stops but there was no choice-I had a wrong day!! We took a room at the airport but only used it for a bath and to freshen up then took off to City Centre for a movie soon after we settled in the room. We saw ‘Chronicles of Narnia’, the second in the series and it was a great movie. After the show, I walked into the mall very quickly and got a pair of goggles cos I’d mistakenly picked up my old glasses instead of my gogs on the way out and had to have Sangtea take it back.
Bathed, had dinner at the airport hotel and then proceeded to the international terminal where we got through our immigration details and waited for the Thai Airways flight to Bangkok. It was 1am when we took off.


24-05-08
Bangkok airport was huge and lovely…everything was so well-maintained and technologically advanced. They had escalators that not only went up and down but straight as well. To top that, there were small open cars to take passengers from one end to the other, and one could hire them for a price if the way was too long for a walk. We didn’t have much time at transit so got through our formalities quickly and proceeded for departure. There was a young Asian male who I’d noticed at Kol airport and I was surprised to find him waiting for the Yangon flight as well. But I didn’t approach him and never did get the chance to talk to him cos after he boarded, I never saw him again. The flight to Yagon on Thai took an hour and it was a very pleasant flight. The Yangon airport was really impressive too- newly built and fine by any standards. The only thing missing was a large crowd and shops-duty free or otherwise..more of this on the return trip.

The hotel we were to stay in had sent a car for us and we were met by a very polite driver who barely spoke English. I was really impressed when I asked if he had water in the car. He didn’t, but stopped on the way to buy a bottle of mineral water for which he refused to take money. The courtesy with which he was dealing with a first time visitor has left a lasting impression on me.
Our hotel was one of the better medium-range ones in Yangon and had possibly 3-star standards though international standards are not applied here. The lobby was friendly and the room comfortable. Since our timings had been rather odd and because mine had been a long trip to take after having been ill for a bit, the rest of the day was spent lazing in the room. Managed to catch a short nap but thought the day was too precious to be wasted. So we went out in the evening after exchanging a 100 dollars for Burmese kyats. We went downtown to the Super One supermarket and I got myself a cap and a skirt. All the stuff they sold looked absolutely appealing and the prices were pretty reasonable- except for the readymade tops which I found were almost entirely imported from Thailand and cost quite a lot of Burmese kyats. The value of their currency is so low it is almost impossible to find anything below a 1000K. But with the Indian rupee worth around 25K, the exchange rate was friendly and that was a huge help.

Didn’t have that long a time at the store cos they closed rather early- it must’ve been around 6:30 when we walked out and were not allowed back in. this trend, I was told, was a recent one, a post-Nargis one, to be more specific. But the streets remained alive and there were people moving around on foot. On the sidewalks were small open shops selling Burmese food which were prepared there in the open and they put up small tables and chairs on the street. I had a chance to eat a hearty Burmese Mohenga for 2000K at one of these places and I treasure that experience more than any other meal I had at all the more exotic locations during my entire stay. Back at the hotel, I took a long and luxurious bath, relaxing in the warm tub perfumed with the beautiful scent of the hotel’s flowered soap. With the healthy appetite I had taken with me, I still showed up at the dining hall at night for a glass of wine and some light snack. The bar was alive by then and we decided to step in for the English covers by the professional band playing there- I think they were called ‘The Rainbow’. They did some very widely popular numbers and were quite good tho I suspect their lyrics were written in Burmese!! Opted for some coke as we sat at the counter making small talk with other guests and the locals. There were a few people on the dance floor and a specially adept guy who danced with different ladies to a few of the songs. I later learnt that he was the dance instructor who practiced at night with his students while lounging in the bar- he was pretty good! I stayed put on my barstool, drinking a local Cola just taking
in the people and the relaxed atmosphere- a deceptively calm and prosperous feel within the walls of luxury, three weeks after the devastating Nargis.



25-05-08
The Sunday plan was to take a trip to Irrewady delta, the worst hit area and visit some relief camps to actually assess the situation. But we learnt that the delta was a full 5-hour trip from Yangon and that entry to the relief camps were a highly restricted affair. The plan had to be shelved and we made our way to the Shwedagon Pagoda- the single most religious place in the country, just a few minutes’ walk from our hotel. Legend has it that two brothers brought eight hairs of the Buddha to be enshrined in this sacred location, inaugurating the Shwedagon Pagoda. We had to pay a 7000K ($6) entry fee while it was free for locals, at the Southern entrance from which an elevator took us up to the main platform. We got a guide to accompany us and though there were some stories I didn’t quite get because of the language barrier, it was a good thing to have him around- there were a lot of things we would not have understood had he not been there. The guide cost 5000K.
The Pagoda was busy and friendly and there were people milling all over the place. We were told there was an even larger crowd as it was a Sunday and a holiday. There were devotees praying at the foot of their favourite statue- there are reportedly more than 2000 Buddha idols. Then there were those who’d come as families or in a group with their lunches, or their small tea kettles and cups, sitting down for lazy chats. The Burmese have an 8-day week, the conventional Wednesday divided into two…and an animal for each of these days. At the Pagoda too, there were eight shrines at the foot of the stupa for each day of the week, each with its own Buddha, where people prayed at the shrine of the days of their births.
Two favorite objects of devotion were umbrellas and gold leaves. Small umbrellas were offered to the Buddha, to shade him from the harsh sun and gold leaves were rubbed on the idols. Many people also poured water on the statues in the open to cool them down and put them in a favourable mood before submitting their supplications. Major donations have been made to the Pagoda by devotees from all the world over time and many smaller Pagodas and shrines have come up within the platform, as have water containers, umbrellas and others. On the way back, we decided to walk down the stairs of the Eastern walkway with its shops selling curios and interesting souvenirs. I managed to get a few small souvenirs with a local friend bargaining for me. Although the shopkeepers are friendly and pretty honest, most cannot resist the chance of naming a slightly higher price than usual when they find out you’re a foreigner. This was specially true in my case, because most of them spoke openly in Burmese- I must look absolutely like one, judging by the number of times this happened- and on finding I cant understand them, gleefully proceed to price their ware in dollars.




After the Pagoda, I decided to make more of the day by going off to Bogyoke Aung San Market (Scott Market) downtown. The market houses small shops selling everything from gems to slippers and everything in between. The place was alive even on a Sunday and I loved going through all those precious stones on display even though I didn’t buy any, afraid I might be cheated. I mentally saved some pieces to be bought on another day out with a local but sadly, there never came another time. Bought some traditional wear and beautiful fabrics while I just stood fascinated at the display of lanes and lanes of slippers and exotic hand paintings.


After a sweaty time with the crowds at Scott, I moved back to the hotel to freshen up and make yet another trip out in the evening. This time I took the help of the friendly reception staff at the hotel and decided to go to the Karaweik Buffet Restaurant, located on Kandawgyi Lake. The actual restaurant is within a huge boat that rests on the lake and the lake compound also boasted of some traditional shops within beautiful surroundings, an open lawn with swings and park benches, with live music in the evenings. There were young Burmese couples enjoying the refreshing evening breeze and romantic local music, seemingly unconcerned with the rest of the world.

The restaurant itself was another experience altogether. At the entrance I was greeted by beautiful, traditionally attired hostesses who took me inside the boat through a long and interesting walkway. Inside was a large and beautiful dining place and the highlight of the fare here is the one hour cultural show from 7:30 to 8:30 pm where one gets a taste of Burma’s rich and varied folk culture complete with a puppet show. The food was good too, featuring a selection of Burmese and Thai cuisine.

The waiters spoke a spatter of English and since the place was rather empty that night (only three tables including mine), it was easy to have them all on attention and every wish was met with delight- says quite a lot about service and the traditional Burmese hospitality again.

It was after 9 when I finally left, one of the waiters was kind enough to see me off at the gate while someone else got me a cab from the streets. It was while I waited for the cab that I walked around the place and was delighted to find young Burmese couples and groups enjoying a quiet night outJ

26-05-08
Monday turned out to be a quiet day, since I shamefully overslept, missed breakfast and finally moved out of the hotel at lunchtime. Went downtown again and walked the streets of Bogyoke Aung San Road, taking in the shops- big and small, the hotels and the cinema halls- strangely comforting to find that two of them were showing Hindi movies, probably catering to the large Indian minority in Yangon. Ate lunch at an Indian Muslim place which wasn’t all that great or clean but had a friendly air about it. I also browsed through the many small bookshops that sold all kinds of books- many secondhand and really old English books and magazines. It was at one of these places that I found an old out-of-print book on the History of English Literature for which I paid the grand sum of 1500K (about Rs.55). There were some old foreign cars around too and on looking up one, a man immediately approached and asked if I wanted to use it- he said it was a ‘black taxi’ which I understood as a private vehicle that works as a cab without a permit. These were especially pimped to attract the attention of curious tourists.

In the afternoon, I visited a Mizo house where I was so well-received, more so because of my late aunt who had been there a long time ago and had been thick friends with them. We sat talking for ages and they were happy to help me out in whatever way they could on my interest in Buddhist folktales. We made arrangements to eat there the following morning as well. From the balcony of their apartment, we were able to see the railway station which presented a pretty sight although the immediate border on our side was the living quarters of railway employees which was in shambles, more so after the cyclone. I was also told that the streets had earlier been lined with huge trees that the cyclone had uprooted. Their car had also been crushed by a falling tree!


27-05-08
Determined not to miss another complimentary breakfast, I was up with enough time for a bath before moving down to eat. Made my way downtown after a heavy breakfast to meet with the leaders of the Yangon Zofa Society who were meeting to discuss ways of helping the Mizo population around Yangon who’d been hit by the cyclone. Their gesture of kindness and action in expressing solidarity at such a time was impressive. And so was their genuine goodwill and willingness to answer my curious and at times, difficult questions. We later watched a video of the devastation the cyclone had wrecked around the Irrawady delta. There were times when I had to close my eyes because I just couldn’t bear to watch the sorry sight of dead bodies lying around- some in the waters and others on land.
It rained heavily for much of the afternoon and we had to sit indoors even though I had wanted desperately to go on a train ride around Yangon. But fortunately, there was Lalnunsanga from T-Melody around and he was kind enough to sing a few songs for us- that made up for some light entertainment on a rainy dayJ
After the rains passed, we were off to Scott market again and spent a much longer time there than I had anticipated because there was so much to see. We actually spent ages at a small curio place where I picked and tossed necklaces and bangles finally picking a few and having matching jewellery made for them to take home with me. I also got a traditional (unstitched) Burmese wear as a gift- something I will always treasure. The evening was quietly spent at the hotel, except for an interesting conversation at the bar and the gift of a ‘Kon’, the Burmese zarda paanJ

28-05-08
The following morning, I missed breakfast again, not because I overslept but because I got up ultra-early!! I was up at 5 to get ready for my day trip before leaving Yangon in the evening. I accompanied one group to sites on the outskirts of Yangon to give some relief money to cyclone-affected families and it was here that I got a taste of how a poor Burmese family lived.
The houses I was taken to see were small thatched structures that stood on flimsy bamboo poles elevated from the ground. There were families as large as eight living in such homes that would have measured an average of five or six feet by eight feet. On my way home, I started reading ‘Daughter of the East’, the autobiography of Benazir Bhutto, and on reading how some political prisoners had been kept in four feet by five feet cells, the thought that entered my head was that the houses I saw in the outskirts of Rangoon were not much better than the worst punishments meted out to political prisoners elsewhere!

Most families had somehow re-done the worst of the damage from the cyclone of three weeks earlier. Some even had what seemed to be signboards or posters, probably blown off by the cyclone, on their walls, as a ready substitute for the thatched walls the others usually had. The surprising thing though, was that most of them seemed to be cheerful inspite of their woes- the children running around in carefree abandon while the adults (who I’m sure had a lot on their minds) only seemed concerned about going forward and getting on with what little they had without lingering too much on what they had lost. Their loss to us may have been little in material terms, but to think much of what they had accumulated through their hard earned labour was gone forever was something which occupied my thoughts for a long time after.


The army quarters we visited did not fare much better and I was shocked to find one family living with their sow right inside a very small space of living quarters allotted to them. There I was told that the little money we’d brought with us would be used to buy rice because the one they had been rationed was not edible and that they had already incurred quite a lot of debt with the shopkeepers who sold such essentials as rice. This was rather surprising because I’d seen lots of pictures in different media where the heads of the military government had visited affected families, distributing aid. One of the accounts I heard told a very different story. A man recounted how he and many others had stood in a queue for a long time because they’d been told that rice and cooking oil were to be distributed. After standing so for almost the entire morning, some high official in uniform came by and pictures were taken of him with the supplies and the long queue waiting to be given those supplies. After those pictures, the official took off and all the supplies that had been on display, purportedly for distribution were summarily stored again and there was nothing to be had for the time spent in queue. If this was an account of the norm, I just could not begin to imagine the fate of those whose very existence depended on those timely supplies!
The trip taught me a lot about humanity and universal brotherhood. The sentiments that were aroused in the heart of a stranger for these suffering people, the physical pain that came out of watching dead bodies floating on the waters- with outstretched arms as if crying for help- were things I had not imagined could be my own experience. It brought me closer to understanding the hearts of missionaries, of aid agencies who would bet their lives on bring relief to those in need.

More than anything else, I was touched by the honesty, sincerity, friendliness and hospitality of the people as a whole. Like I said, I must really look like one of them because everyone cared to speak only in Burmese with me, some pressing on even after I’d repeatedly try to communicate in English. The people I found were those who did not take what was not theirs. On the long road trip to the outskirts, I was told that I could leave my things unattended in an unlocked car and no one would touch them. I did and they didn’t! this was so refreshing after having lived all my life making sure my things were always safely locked up or attended to avoid their loss.


One rather funny incident at the airport was our attempt to carry beer cans which we learnt later were not duty free. The Yangon airport was beautiful but almost completely empty except for the bare essentials. When I saw a signboard saying ‘Shops/Café’, I was quick to ask whether there actually was a café and I was told to go straight. Once there, I realized their idea of a café was not exactly like mine. There were two young girls and a young man behind a small table with a few cigarettes, bottled water and two chicken rolls. Behind them was a small frig filled with soda and beer cans. They also had a coffee machine between the two with no place to sit- either for them or the customers. This was located a few steps from the security and departure enclosures so I assumed they would all be duty free. Just to make sure, I asked if they were but the wall of Babel came up against us once again. Confident in my assumption, I got some cigarettes and a beer can after a cup of coffee and one of their chicken rolls. Walking the seven or eight steps to the enclosure, I was promptly asked to fish out the beer and finish it off before I moved down to the departure lounge. When I pointed out that the sign they displayed outside actually allowed for liquids in a separate plastic bag, they answered ‘Yes, but you cannot’ and that was that!! Their solution- which I enjoyed so much I was smiling and laughing the whole time through, was: ‘You have one hour, finish it off” and though they were actually thinking of sending us back near the ‘café’ to finish the beer, I asked if we might sit in their enclosure to do so. Being the genuinely good-natured people they were, they allowed the request and we all shared a hearty laughJ

There are so many other small gestures and sights that would fill a lot more pages had I the power to express them in a way that would justify the way they have enriched my experience. But lest I kill the joy of the experience, let me just say my Yangon diary cannot come close to the depth of emotions the trip worked on me and I am now home with every intention of going back should there ever be an opportunity…and I regret having to refrain from mentioning all the lovely people I met, for fear that the appearance of their identities on a public forum like the Net might not be welcome…but it is because of them that the memories of the Yangon week are so special.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Beauty and the Beast???

CHAWNGVUNGI AND SAWNGKHARA
(CHAWNGVUNGI LEH SAWNGKHARA- MIZO THAWNTHU {1964})
Once upon a time in a village, there was a beautiful girl by the name of Chawngvungi. She came of a good family for her father was a man of standing in their village. There was also a young man called Sawngkhara who regularly courted her. But Chawngvungi found Sawngkhara ugly and repulsive, and would give him no attention even when he called. But Sawngkhara had a magic potion called ‘Zawlaidi’ which he decided to use on Chawngvungi because he was deeply in love with her while she wouldn’t give him a second glance. He applied the potion to Chawngvungi’s waist band as she was weaving on the loom and stopped calling on her for three days. In that time, Sawngkhara’s Zawlaidi had worked and Chawngvungi began to so long for him that she could no longer get on with her work. She could only hang on to her loom without weaving, and when friends called her to gather wood, she could not bring herself to go out with them.

Chawngvungi’s mother became immensely worried and she cried,
“Chawngi, your friends go forth to gather wood,
Else sit at home and work their looms,
For whom are you pining that you sit idle?”

To this Chawngvungi would reply,
“Oh mother, my friends they go and gather wood,
Or sit at home and work their looms,
Pining for Sawnga I lie limp upon my looms.”

Then on the third night, Sawngkhara made his way to Chawngi’s house and shouted for her,
“Chawngi, open the door for me,
It is I, Chawnga, come to call on you.”
Chawngvungi’s mother was not keen to see the man and shouted back, “Let the son of a Bawmzo go sleep at the Suar.”
To this Sawngkhara replied,
“Ka pi, My mother a Bawmzo she may be,
But my father, he be the famed Hauchema.”

Chawngvungi’s mother had no reply and therefore sent her daughter to open the door. The ‘rick rack’ of the opening door could be heard as soon as the words left the mother’s mouth. Since she was so displeased to see Sawngkhara, he did not stay long that night.

The following day, Chawngvungi and her mother went to their field to farm. There Sawngkhara had turned himself into a little bird that could be heard singing “Chawngler, Chawngler” from across the valley. When she heard this Chawngvungi said,
“Hark Mother! Even the birds across the valley sing
‘Chawngler, Chawngler’
Let us be gone mother let us go home.”

Her mother quickly retorted, “They say no such thing, all I hear is ‘Di ngai, Di ngai’ and continued with her work. But since Chawngvungi could not bring herself to be of any help, they finally did go home and this went on for three days together.

In the nights when Sawngkhara would visit Chawngvungi, he would always find the door locked by her mother and he started to worry. He finally decided to use the Zawlaidi on her as well and applied some on the broom she was to use. From that time on, she too was infatuated with Sawngkhara and looked forward to his visits. As soon as the sound of his footsteps reached their sumhmun, she would quickly send Chawngvungi to open the door, which the girl did most enthusiastically.

In time, Sawngkhara’s family sent emissaries to ask for Chawngi’s hand in marriage. It could have been that her mother was jealous for she insisted on being given the family ‘Darhuai’ as bride-price for her daughter. Though Sawngkhara’s family had great misgivings about parting with their ‘Darhuai’, their pleas fell on deaf ears and they finally gave it away as a price for Chawngvungi’s hand, for her mother would accept nothing else.

As they were leaving for Sawngkhara’s village, Chawngvungi said to her mother, “Mother, if the leaves of our banyan tree droop, say to yourself, ‘My Chawngvungi is sick’; if the branches turn dry and break, know that I have died, and come running in tears.” In her turn, Chawngvungi’s mother replied, “Go mourn Sawngkhara and come back soon.” Having heard this exchange, Sawngkhara’s mother quickly retorted, “Chawngi’s mother, we’re not taking her to mourn Chawnga, we’re taking her to bear sons and daughters.”

In a little while from then, not long after Chawngi bore a son, she became greatly ill and died soon after. Her mother, observing the banyan tree, soon learnt of Chawngi’s death and came in tears, claiming her daughter’s body. She and Sawngkhara’s family began fighting for Chawngvungi’s body and cried their songs of mourning in derision. Chawngi’s mother cried,
“Chawngi, Chawngi, didn’t I tell you
‘Go mourn Sawnga and come back soon,
Chawngi, Chawngi.”

To this cry of lamentation, Sawngkhara’s mother came up with her own cry,
“Chawngi, o dear expensive Chawngvungi,
We offered brass and necklaces
But your mother, rejecting asked for the ‘Darhuai’
Chawngi, o dear expensive Chawngvungi.”
Sawngkhara’s sisters also joined the mourners crying,
“Ka pi, we never brought her home to mourn Sawnga,
We brought her home to bear him sons, we brought her home to bear him daughters
Chawngi, Dear expensive Chawngvungi.”

In the midst of all this, Sawngkhara held his infant son and cried, “Chawngi, get up, your son Liantea cries in hunger”, and he could not be consoled. When his friends saw him in such a state, they thought it best to take him out for a while for they were afraid he might die from crying so much. Decided upon such a course of action, they took him hunting to Lentlang.

Even the hunting trip could not raise Sawngkhara’s spirit, for he saw Chawngvungi’s face in the flowers there and so longed for her that he would pluck the flowers and keep them. And when they came back from their trip, he was told that Chawngi’s mother had run off with her body. Sawnga immediately set off after her with the hope of reclaiming his wife’s body. On the way, Chawngi’s mother had washed her body in a stream and there he found her nail which had been broken off. This broken nail he took with him and returned home. It is said that he performed the ‘Kuang ur’ over that broken nail for three long years.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Sichangneii- a Mizo 'Swan Lady' tale

Once upon a time there was a bachelor who would get up each morning to fetch water from the village pond. But before him, someone always managed to dirty the water he was to fetch, and yet he had no clue as to who that might be. An old woman once said to him, “I know who dirties your water. Sichangneii and her sister fly down from the sky every morning thus leaving the water dirty. You should one day wait up for them and catch her to make her your bride, for they are immensely beautiful. But even if you are to catch them, do so from behind. If you approach them from the front their beauty will dazzle you and you won’t be able to catch them.” So the next morning, this man got up with the first crow of the cock and lay in wait for the sisters. Sichangneii and her sister did fly down for their bath. So great was their beauty, the pool of water positively sparkled on their approach. When he saw this, the man quickly jumped down on one, but he missed her and they flew off towards the sky again. The nest morning, he again lay in wait and this time succeeded in catching one. He caught Sichangneii, the elder of the sisters and took her home where he pulled off her wings and hid them inside a phulraw thei which he kept on the rapchungsang. Then he made Sichangneii his wife.

In course of time, the couple were blessed with seven beautiful sons whom they named Kaptheia, Dotheia, Haitheia, Chhintheia, Mantheia, and the youngest was called Tlumtea. The couple had a field but since they had seven healthy sons who needed care, they had to take turns- while one went to the field, the other would stay home and look after the children. When it was the father’s turn to stay home, he would bring their mother’s wings out and put one on each of them and they would dance with glee. On their mother’s turns, they would just sit at home and be bored with nothing to do. One day when they were with their mother, Tlumtea blurted out, “Mother, when Father is at home, he puts on us wings of some sort and we would always dance with glee.”

Now the father had warned his children against saying anything to their father so the elder sons tried to cover up by saying, “Hah!! He is lying through his teeth!” But their mother pursued and asked Tlumtea, “Tell me where your father keeps those wings” and Tlumtea was quick to reply, “There in that box on the rapchungsang.” Then she sent Tlumtea to get the box for her and she put on her wings again and stood at the door asking her sons, “Children do I look nice?” the elder sons quickly said, “Not at all, you look shameless, come inside quickly before anyone sees you.” But Tlumtea in his innocence said, “No way, Mother, you look beautiful.” Then she jumped outwards near their verandah railing and asked the same question again. Her sons gave the same reply and when Tlumtea again said she looked beautiful, she suddenly took off and flew back to the sky. When their father got home from the fields, he asked his children where their mother was and he was told everything that had happened. At this the father said, “Then with your mother gone, I am going to kill myself, let me til mu chhu keh”. The elder sons tried to stop him but Tlumtea in his curiosity said, “No, Father just do it!” the father did so, and on Tlumtea’s urging did the same to the other side also. He was then writhing in pain but Tlumtea did not understand. So he danced in delight shouting, “Father is dancing!” hammering their water bottle to keep the beat. In a little while, their father died and they were left orphans.

The brothers began to worry and they said to Entheia, “You have the strongest eyes, look and see if you can find Mother.” He looked and looked and finally saw his mother at her home in the skies buh deng rice. Then Kaptheia took aim and struck an arrow right at the side of their mother’s sum. Seeing this, their mother threw a rope down for them and they all climbed up to the skies. In their mother’s house also lived her brother who hated the seven brothers, and he was also a cannibal. He had a plan to kill them all by felling a tree and letting it fall on all the brothers. So one day he took them out, felled a tree near to its breaking point and sat them down beneath the tree to eat their lunch. As soon as they were settled, he made an excuse and left them to cut the tree so it might fall on the brothers. But Dotheia took charge and kept the tree at bay while Haitheia shoved it sideways so it couldn’t hit them on its fall. When their uncle came back, he was surprised and said, “Oh! Children, I thought you’d all have died!” to which the brothers deridingly said, “We don’t want to die just yet, you white-calfed wretch of a man”. Another day he took them all to burn their jhum land with another plan to kill them. As soon as they reached, he commanded them to stay right in the middle and eat their lunch while he went down to gather crabs from the nearby stream. But what he actually did was burn the jhum and since the brothers were right in the middle of the fire, they began to worry. They called on Haitheia and he started digging a pit into which they all ran in. then Chhintheia closed the pit. When the fire died down, the cannibal uncle came up and with satisfaction looked at the burnt jhum saying, “Aha! These must be their skulls all burnt to ashes!” and started picking up the ashes and eating them as he came. But when he reached the place where he had left them, he found them all safe and happily eating. In embarrassment he said, “There, children, you are all still safe, I thought you would have died of the fire”. The brothers again derided him and said, “We don’t want to die just yet, you white-calfed wretch of a man”. They narrated the entire incident to their mother on reaching home that evening. Their mother, worried for her sons’ lives said, “This man is a cannibal and I’m afraid he might really kill you and eat you all up one day. Its best that you return to earth now and go set up a trap for animals at Mual sarih”. The brothers obeyed their mother and went back to earth.
On setting up a trap following their mother’s instructions, they were extremely successful and often had to carry meat in their wooden baskets. One day, as they sat down to eat their meat at the leikapui, they said, “these meat our mother and father will never eat” and started feeling melancholic. In their longing, they looked up towards the skies where their mother lived and just then, their mother threw down the waist from cleaning her rice and they were all blinded. They continued to pick up their meat even in their blind state and distribute it among themselves. At those times, a Chawmnu often picked up a share and the brothers began to worry that they did not get their fair share. So one day Tlumtea was distributing their shares and as he did so, he would ask, “Now whose hand is this?” and his brothers would reply, “It is mine”. When he came to the Chawmnu’s hand, he got no answer and he immediately knew this hand did not belong to any of them. He suddenly caught hold of the hand, picked up the creature and crushed it atop a hardened rock nearby. The impact of the blow tore open the Chawmnu’s head and its brain spilled all over the place. Some of the spill landed on Tlumtea’s eyes and his eyes could make out some of the sights. Learning that this was medicine for blinded eyes, he put some more on his eyes and now he could see clearly. He then put some on all of his brothers’ eyes and they could all see again.

From then on they decide to farm a field and they would stay nights at their farmhouse and take turns cooking their food. The first turn was Kaptheis’s, the eldest. When he was done with the cooking, a Chawmnu came and threatened, “Kapthei, would you prefer I take you or the food you’ve cooked?” Kaptheia naturally feared for his life and said, “Obviously the food instead of my life” and the Chawmnu took all the food he had cooked. Now when his brothers came back to eat, they had to wait till the food was cooked again and ready to be eaten. This happened with all six brothers till it was Tlumtea’s turn to do the cooking. He, in his turn, weaved a large bamboo basket as he did his cooking. The Chawmnu came again and asked her usual question to which Tlumtea also gave the same reply. But when she made a move to eat the food, Tlumtea said, “Just wait a little while, it is not fully cooked yet, why don’t you sit down for a while?” The Chawmnu sat down near where Tlumtea was weaving and asked him why he was weaving such a large basket. Tlumtea replied, “It is the coop for a great big cock that we have, almost as large as you. If you would fit in, our cock would naturally fir, wont you please get in so I can try it on for size?” As soon as the Chawmnu was inside, Tlumtea quickly sealed the basket and she was trapped inside. He said, “I’ll take you home with me for the children would love to play with you.” The Chawmnu was worried, she said, “Tlumte, allow me to buy myself out. I will give you knives, hreipui, arrows, tuthlawh, mithuns and wives-one each for every brother.” To this Tlumtea agreed and the Chawmnu gave him all immediately except for the mithuns which he was told to collect at a later date.

When his brothers came home, he proudly declared he had cooked food without them having to wait for it to be cooked again. But as they sat down to eat, he asked, “Would you prefer to eat now, or would you rather we distributed knives amongst ourselves?” To this his brothers replied, “Should there be knives, by all means, distribute them.” Tlumtea did so, and it was the same for all the other things which he had received from the Chawmnu, up to their wives. Now Tlumtea had cleverly blackened the face of the most beautiful maiden and he got her as his wife since his elder brothers had not chosen her. When their work was done, he said, “Now let us see whose wife is most beautiful, let them wash their faces clean.” When they did so, they found that Tlumtea had got the most beautiful of the maidens. He told his brothers that all their gifts had come from the Chawmnu and that he had also been promised mithuns at a later date.

In a while, the brothers went off to collect the promised mithuns, and while they were gone, the Chawmnu came near their house burning logs for coal and called out to their wives, “Give me water to drink”. The wife of the eldest went with water and the Chawmnu quickly ate her up. She called for water again and when one wife went to give her, she quickly ate her up and this happened to all the wives of the six olde brothers. But Tlumtea’s wife was in labour at the time and she had borne a son, she managed to get up with great difficulty to offer water when the Chawmnu caught hold of her hand and took her home. The child she had just delivered and left somehow grew up on its own without much care.

When the child had grown, he got to thinking, “Haven’t my fathers left a single paper money-I wish I could take it when I go in search of mother!” and he searched the house and found a single paper money under the table.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Thlanrawkpa Khuangchawi- a Mizo oral tale

THLANRAWKPA KHUANGCHAWI
In a time many ages ago, Thlanrawkpa was to hold the Khuangchawi ceremony for which he invited all the living beings on earth. As preparation for the feast, food, meat and rice beer were made on a very large scale. The house was renovated and the fields were levelled to hold the many guests who had been invited.
When the guests arrived, Thlanrawkpa gave names to each of the creatures who attended based on their peculiar qualities. A hen came up from the mud and she was named ‘Chirhi’ (mud) but as time passed, “chiri chiri” became the common address for the hen. Then there came a Zuhrei who was named ‘Zurei’ for he took so long in brewing beer (Zu- beer, rei- long). This name also became modified to the now common ‘Zuhrei’. There was a cat that came walking along a small bamboo rod at which they wondered, “Look at how tight the walk is!” and they named it ‘Zawhte’ (Small walk). The squirrel came sauntering in an even narrower walk over a rope and when they saw this, they cried, this walk is even tighter!” and they named the animal ‘Theihlei’ (even more able) which in course of time was amended to the modern ‘Thehlei’ for squirrel. These and many other creatures came, they were all named and together they roamed at Thlanrawkpa’s large field while he encouraged them to make friends with everyone. Following his advice, the Sakhi (deer) and the sakuh (porcupine) made friends and danced to a song they made up out of a combination of their names. When the two started dancing a Tangkawng wanted to join them and his name was also added to the song. The trio’s merry dance made the Varihaw want to join them and his name was also added to the song. They happily danced to the beat of their song in great joy.
The following day was the start of the Khuangchawi and the thingdim people feasted at the father-in-law’s house practising their dance moves the whole night. They approached the dancing ground the following day in great merry-making and there was great merry-making in the air. One could see pig dung with feathers swaying, and there was cock dung moving to the beat of the bamboo rat’s drum. The Zuhrei came with feathers on its hair and when they saw her dance, they appreciated it in song,
“Watch the Zuhrei with flowers on her hair,
Beauty she has and grace is hers.” The Buipui became jealous and joined the show with flowers on its head but the song it inspired was completely different:
“Watch the Buipui with flowers on its head,
There is no beauty, there is no grace.” At this the Buipui was so greatly angered it suddenly made off with the drum and hid itself in a deep cave. The dancers were disturbed for they could not dance without the drum so they sent a hen to ask for the drum but the Buipui was adamant. So they decided to flood the cave and at this, the Buipui got scared and threw the drum out hitting the hen right at the knees. It is said that this was how the hen got its knees overturned.
With the drum back, they proceeded to dance again and at the lead was the Sahuai (Loris). But the sun, which they had requested not to shine, could no longer stop himself, consumed as he was with the desire to watch the dancers. As the sun came up from the horizon, the Sahuai did its best to stop its rise for if the sun did shine, the dung that were dancing would dry up and the changpat would tire quickly. But the sun could not be stopped for long and as it made its way up, the dung quickly dried up and the changpat tired and the dancing stopped. So greatly angered was the Sahuai at this that he vowed to be at war with the sun for always. To this day, the Sahuai refuses to look at the sun, even if you hold its head up, you will find that it always has its eyes closed.
Evening came and it was time for Saveichawi and everyone stood in queue to get their food. With their left hands they took the meat and rice beer with their right. The lizard was a sly creature. On one line he turned a red gullet and on the other a black. On both lines he would say, “I’m a guest, I haven’t yet got the left hand meat’ and thus was served twice. From this came the popular proverb, ‘Lehlama awr dum, lehlama awr sen.’ At that time when everyone was feasting with great glee, an owl somehow did not get the meat and was sitting by the door greatly displeased. The Zuhrei, full in the stomach mistook the owl’s displeasure for something else and passing by said, “Look at the owl full to his brim!” This angered the owl so much he ran after the Zuhrei, right up to the mouth of its burrow. It sat at the mouth but the Zuhrei, clever creature that it is, made a Hrultun on the other side and escaped the owl’s watchful vigil. From this incident came the word ‘Chhimbudawi’. Then there was the hen who was a widow at the time of the Khuangchawi. The Sanghar wooed the hen and finally succeeded in sleeping with her. Then the Sanghar boasted about his feat and a court was held before Thlanrawkpa. The hen was lost for words and was so upset she could only cry while the Sanghar was smug and continued to show off. The saying ‘Arpuia lungchhia, Sanghara lunglawm’ originated from this episode.
The time came for the guests to leave and Thlanrawkpa put on a disguise and awaited his guests on their way to find out if his guests would show any appreciation. The first creature to come by in a great hurry was a bullock and Thlanrawkpa stooped him to ask whether he had enjoyed the Khuangchawi. The cow in a foul mood replied, “That Thlanrawkpa! Says he’s holding a Khuangchawi but where did we find gratification, or enough to fill our stomachs!” On hearing this Thlanrawkpa said, “You ungrateful creature, because you have not appreciated what Thlanrawkpa did, you will forever work under harsh conditions to fill your stomach.” Then there came a crab and Thlanrawkpa asked the same question to which it replied, “May Thlanrawkpa live forever! Grand was the Khuangchawi and filled our we to satisfaction!” Thlanrawkpa was greatly pleased with this answer and pronounced, “For your show of gratefulness, you will eat from this day from what defecate and live in comfort.” Now the crab was not pleased with this but Thlanrawkpa explained that the fish would jump to eat his defecation and the crab could in turn catch the fish for its food. Pleased with this boon the crab went on its way.
Then came a Paite and a Tuikuk on their way home. They too were gratified at the Khuangchawi and Thlanrawkpa gifted them both a special blade for splitting bamboos. This is why, it is said, that to this day, the Paite and the Tuikuk at better skilled at crafts than is the Mizo. Finally there came a Mizo and a Vai singing of their great joy at the Khuangchawi. Thlanrawkpa was pleased to hear them and gifted the Mizo with a leather parchment while to the Vai he gave a Laisuih (ordinary paper). He said, “Keep these with great care for within it is food and riches and all the knowledge you can find.” The Mizo, still drunk with rice beer, simply kept his gift in a Sum from where a dog picked it up ran off with it. The Vai on the other hand kept it safely, and willed it to his children as well. This is why the Vai have greater knowledge and riches. But since Thlanrawkpa had given a gift of higher quality to the Mizo, this gift lives on and is evident in that the Mizo always excels when put to similar tasks with a Vai.
To all his guests, Thlanrawkpa gave the message, “All my dear subjects, I know you all wish for me to have a long life, and I shall have one. Should anything happen to me and I should die, there is above you in the heavens your caretaker ‘Pu Vana’. If you should require help for any of your problems, just throw your dices up and ask him to take care of you and he shall always help.”

mizogurl came from chhinlung!!!

lemme introduce the Mizo people to you- not so much from History books as from what the folk have preserved and believed over the years-
The Mizo[1] people trace their origin to Chhinlung, a crevice within the earth literally meaning ‘closed stone’. Based on the rich oral tradition that has been passed on from father to son through many generations, they believe their forefathers emerged from this fissure in couples to populate the earth. The oral tradition, in the absence of a written language, had given the Mizo his identity, origin and history. The language of the people, also called ‘Mizo’, is what was originally the Duhlian dialect of the dominant Mizo sub-tribe known as the ‘Lusei’ or ‘Lushai’ clan. Capt. T.H.Lewin[2] assigns the name ‘Dzo’ to the tribes inhabiting the hills east of the Chittagong district in Lower Bengal, for whom the term ‘Kuki’ is applied by the inhabitants of the plains. Although the term ‘Kuki’ was frequently used in referring to the inhabitants of present Mizoram (formerly called Lushai Hills), this term was replaced by ‘Lushai’ after the Expedition of 1871-72. This was in its turn replaced by the generic term ‘Mizo’ since 1950. (Chatterjee 1) The various clans and sub-tribes have now come to be included under the term ‘Mizo’. Capt. Lewin found the Lushai dialect to be common and understood by all the ‘Dzo’ tribes, it being “the clan tongue of the great family from which all the chiefs are said to have sprung” (3). The creation of this common dialect is credited to a Sailo chief called Lallula around 1740 AD (Thanga, 17). This dialect did not have a known written form till the advent of the Christian missionaries who framed the Mizo ‘A Aw B’ or the Mizo alphabet in the 19th century. Oral folk tradition tells a different story asserting that the Mizo had been gifted the art of writing or a script in the form of a leather parchment. However, this gift was lost when a dog ate it because the Mizo had been careless with its safekeeping (Zawla,K. 5). Whatever be the truth, the fact remains that the British colonizers found the language of their subjects without a written form in the early years of their encounter. This did not mean, however, that the Mizo did not satisfy their literary inclinations. Their literature, though oral, found expression in the art of telling stories, legends, parables and a rich body of songs, which are now preserved as the folklore of the Mizo people.
[1] The Mizo people are the people inhabiting Mizoram and spread over other hill states in North East India.
[2] Capt. Thomas Herbert Lewin was the Deputy Commissioner of Chittagong Hills