The Lake in Itanagar

Though I heard a lot about Taai Siimi a.k.a. Gyaker Siinyi a.k.a. Ganga Lake I couldn’t muster enough passion in me to visit it.

D-day finally arrived. Obviously, my expectation (to get hold of a great shot of the lake) was extremely high.

I got frustrated when I saw the face of the lake. It was not a photogenic as expected.

My friend and I toured the length and breadth, but nothing strikes me. The lake appeared to be quite depressing and sinister.

My mom used to tell us a story about the Taai Siimi.

According to Apatani folklore, a man stumbled across an unclaimed Gayal near the Taai Siimi. The mammal bred beyond imagination. The rise in numbers consequent upon the prosperity of the man. At long last, the man decided to sacrifice it to the God. Perhaps the consideration was immoral in God’s eye. And so the mammal took all her progeny and vanished into the lake.

ImageImageImage

Advertisements

An invitation of hike

During a weekend meeting, Dr. Kanno asked me if I want to go for a hike. I was somewhat diffident to join him as I got drenched with rain while I was returning home from my place of work. I thought I was going to catch a cold, but it was an invitation I couldn’t refuse.

The minute I reached home I plugged in my camera to a socket to charge it.

At night, he SMSed me to tell the time of departure.

The next day we were accompanied by three other hikers. One of them was actually going to check the trap he set for the rat at his privately-owned forest. My fellow hikers informed me that Ziro, of late, is experiencing a mass migration of rats. Since the meat of rat is considered as exotic delicacy by many, hence the rat-trap.

I don’t want to bore anyone with the text. . . So please go ahead. . .

Ziro and the people

Ziro.

No, it’s not zero.

Ziro is my hometown, my birth place.

A small town, going on to a big town. Headquarters of Lower Subansiri in Arunachal Pradesh. Northeast India.

As I don’t want to reiterate what I said earlier, so I would like to quote a few lines from a piece I wrote for Arunachal Diary.

” The landscape of Ziro is full of wonder and always amazes me. No matter wherever place or spot you are, you’ll be surrounded by hills and it feels like you are being trapped amid hills. The perpetual green in profusion and the valley lush with paddy fields in summer, the unpredictable rain and the occasional rainbow, and the low-slung mist that resembles lake and deceives onlookers, not only enthrals but also nourishes soul.

Over the years, things have changed. The atmosphere of purity has waned a little. The rain no longer drizzles but pounds. The forest is being cleared and the paddy fields are receding rapidly to accommodate the growing population or to convert it into cash. With the forest diminishing at breakneck pace, the flora and fauna too had seemingly vanished”.

The sight of Ziro during rainy season still blows me away. Green – all over the place.

Ziro, definitely, is a place to see for tourists, especially for a cultural tourist. They will still see a lot of people with tattooed face in Ziro. Then, there is a typical village settlement and festivals of Apatani community. I’m sure the visitors will love it, but to be a denizen of Ziro – is another story.

In the past I would always look forward to my home-coming. Now I dread it. The moment I would enter the periphery of Ziro, I would feel as if I am not me. I have always felt as if someone else is leading my life.  I have always felt as if straps have been wound around me. I have always felt as if my wing had been clipped.

There is so much negative energy circling round  the Ziro atmosphere – fear of land-shark, land encroachment, Insatiable greed, dispute arising from property, not taking part in marriage or festival practices and their repercussion, High expectations and dependency, Division of community into Christian and non-Christian, Communal tension (inter and intra), insensible egoistic individuals and groups, Groupism, Corruption, irregularity in water supply and telecommunication,  apathetic bureaucrats, corrupt politicians, sycophancy, lack of civic sense, inflation, rash driving, prostitution, drugs, increasing suicidal rate and what not. It encompassed us all.

No matter how hard you may try, you get sucked into the whirlwind. I wish to know if our society really knows the meaning “living a life in peace, harmony and dignity” and letting others.

A sense of insecurity in one has pervaded the region. Their sense of insecurity had invaded others peaceful existence. Give up on me! For I have become psychotic.

Despite modern education and information technology boom, despite theological knowledge imparted by the Christian church, Views and Judgement of most people have not transformed. It is neither primitive nor modern. Status quo!

All I see in Ziro is – decline of ethic.

Whatever the fact may be, I am not justifying that I am a hallowed and wise, and the rest are evil and unwise. On contrary, I am such an idiot to believe that good things happen to good people. At least, I do not pinch someone else land and property. At least I do not hurt others intentionally. At least I do not take advantage of someone’s weakness. I obey traffic rules. I try to help people wherever I can.

A decade ago, I used to tell my friends that Ziro is like a morass and most people will rejoice seeing you sinking in it. My statement still stays.

Arunachal is a black hole.

Listening to my inner voice

Back in April month, I had some savings in my bank account.

Each time I realize I have some money saved up; my wit would merrily give wings to my reverie. And it would say, “You think, you’re going to take the cash and the material goods with you when you’ll die, eh?” In the long run I would often find myself standing in a long queue outside ATM.

As I was queuing to draw out some cash from ATM, a friend phoned me. The call was from Ladakh. My mind said, “It’s a call. Don’t be a cocoon. Go out. Have some fun”.

The next thing I knew was arriving in Itanagar. I thought I would make some inquiries about train ticket when I’ll get to Guwahati (Assam). First, the train fare is cheap. Second, it would be exploratory.  But I had to give up the idea of boarding a train when I saw huge gatherings at reservation counters. April, May, June and July is a period of great activity in India. A chance to get a ticket during those rush months was virtually nil, so I went to try the flight instead.  A day later; I was far from my hometown, I was in Delhi. Four days later, in Srinagar.

“You must try a Houseboat”, a friend suggested. I obeyed diligently. Two days in a houseboat. Both the toilet and bathroom was attached to a room – within houseboat. There was even a T.V. set in a one corner. I noticed it a day afterwards while packing my backpack as it was veiled by muslin kinda fabric.

The temperature in Delhi was ranging from 40°C – 45°C but it was still wintry in Srinagar. The water was too cold to withstand, so I never dared to take a whole body bath. I ate my Kashmiri breakfast and Kashmiri dinner with houseboat owner and his family members. At night, the wind gently rocks you to sleep in a houseboat. Apart from eating and sleeping, I rowed around the Dal Lake in Shikhara (row-boat) and experienced my first ever snowflakes on my head at Sonamarg while leaving Kashmir for Ladakh.

If I were asked,”What color is the Ladakh?” I would say,” Beige”. Green is my hometown but diminishing bit by bit.

Because of snowfall and road blockage, my travel was limit to monastery and Stupa in Leh. However, I met almost all my Ladakhi friend I had befriended during my school days. They were surprised and pleased to see me in Ladakh. I was pleased I listened to my inner voice, but the better part thought,” Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! The opportunity of a lifetime”.

I returned home very tanned and light. 3 kg lighter than I used to be. So was my bank balance. I had drained almost all my savings. It was a poignant moment. “Don’t fret. Money change hands. Besides, you only Live once”, said my wit.