My stay in Dimapur was ruined due to the Bharat Bandh as shops all around were closed. Dimapur and Shillong are the hubs for the best deals in fashion in the northeast! However I did explore the lovely bamboo resource centre in the capital that caters to bespoke exquisite furniture, machaans and Gazebos. It was a fun tour with my newly made exotic Naga friends Wabang and Makshi. I made up my mind to pick out a machaan or gazebo exquisitely designed for my future home.
Little Naga baby
We toured the Assam-Nagaland section via Jorhat, making way to Mokokchung back in Nagaland. The border expanse is beautiful with tea gardens on both sides of the highway. Road conditions are quite pathetic with frequent landslides especially during the monsoon season, but the scenic beauty of the place more than makes up for it. Enroute to Mokokchung, we stopped over at Wabang’s grandmother’s house who showered us with a warm welcome, tea and sweetmeats. She was smiling away and was so excited to see us. Her whole family was very friendly and opened their hearts to their guests. There was a framed picture in her living room that said ‘Behind every successful man stands a woman, telling him that he’s wrong!’. How true! ;)
She recited a little prayer for us in Nagamese before we set out again. The lush green hills and meadows were a fresh green and the breeze made for ideal travel weather! We stopped over at isolated roadside kiosks on the highway sometimes just a single one selling fresh fruits. The freshness, sweetness and fragrance of the papayas, pineapples and passion fruits still lie uncontested amongst these fruits that I’ve savoured everywhere in the country. 100% organic produce is a compulsion as farmers cannot afford fertilizers; a boon for consumers like me! We used to end up buying up the whole stock on our journeys and leave the fruit seller a happy man who would have made a little fortune for himself for the day.
We stopped over at one of the many abundant waterfalls and as we stood clicking pictures I asked Makshi which animals inhabited the area, to which Makshi smugly replied “ No animals..All eaten”!!!. Nagaland though richly endowed with natural beauty and lovely people is an animal lover’s nightmare. There is a ‘keeda market’ in Kohima which I obviously struck out of my list which could give competition to the other ‘keeda markets’ of the world but this is not my favourite topic so I’m just going to move on..
The Whispering Winds resort where I was staying is a cosy and classy resort that overlooks the hill town of Mokokchung. We arrived at the town around 5 so I rushed to the market. I hardly made it on time. The apparel fashion stores were already shut. I was so disheartened, I took a whole tour of the mall, stooping in front of each of the store displays, longingly looking at the pair of turquoise shoes I absolutely adored, shimmery tops and colourful bags. Alas, they were out of reach. After much deliberation I pushed myself out of the mall and walked into a restaurant serving momos. To my disheartened shopper’s added woe, i was told they served only pork momos. Clearly, it wasn’t my day. However, not to miss out on the many more things that Mokokchung had in store for us for the evening, I walked into the twilight, toddling the streets of one of the fashion capitals of the northeast. The girls in Mokokchung are known for their stylish ways and are they haute!
The resort had cooked us an authentic Naga meal(customized to my various food hang-ups- I just can’t take chillies and they had to cook either chicken or fish only). According the Makshi, chicken and fish were vegetarian for him. Pork was the real thing. The food was similar to the meals I’d had in Aizawl and Itanagar-plenty of bamboo shoots and boiled vegetables. When in Nagaland, please specify you don’t want chillies else it’s a taken and only after a request would one get a moderate concoction of spice. The Naga chillies have been recently discovered as one of the hottest chilles in the world so you know what to expect..
There was this tiny but well maintained museum maintained by a lady which has a collection of all authentic Naga articles used by her ancestors and others. The museum houses the ‘World’s smallest Bible’ and exotic pieces of jewellery, shawls, utensils, spears, knives and tribal hunting gear amongst other curio. It is definitely worth a visit.
Temperatures dropped quite drastically during the night with rainfall and strong winds. Standing atop the balcony of my room at the Whispering Winds, I saw the whole town lit up on the hillsides and slowly after the clouds blew away, the stars quietly came out and shone brilliantly on the July night. I yearned to stay on but had to head out to Kohima the next day..
Shopping in Kohima was just about managed as I reached the city as the shops were closing down. I sure missed out on a lot but picked out a psychedelic bag which was a riot of colours! There were stylish boots on sale for a 1000 bucks, punk tshirts, eclectic accessories and arrays of belts. While scuttling down the street trying to hit as many stores, Makshi was enjoying himself, pointing out frogs on sale on the street-side garnering my expressions and exclamations!
I had visited the Kohima world war cemetery when I was 4 but couldn’t make it that day as it was already closed by the time I headed there. It is maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission is only the second war memorial of its kind in India. There’s a famous inscription on the War Memorial stone that reads:
When you go home
Tell them of us and say,
For your tomorrow, we gave our today.
I didn’t want to turn in too early though it was an early start for the next day so my friend Wabang took me for a late night city walk, spotting shooting stars. I had been lucky in Aizawl but that night it had rained and the city acquired a dreamy countenance with a lovely breeze and the fragrance of wet earth. Thus ended my sojourn with another awe-inspiring region of the country tucked away amongst the quiet hills- that play whispering winds and shadows in the day and soiree with the stars at night..