Never mind: in which we find an open bookshop

28 10 2015

never mind

At 4:50am I woke and went outside to check for the beautiful sunrise #1 guide had promised, but there was none to be seen. I suspect that the sun is out of view at that time of year, though it was a beautiful, slightly cloudy morning. I went back to bed but we’d set an early alarm, so we could have a nice hot shower before departing. Unfortunately, by the time we woke again the rain was bucketing down accompanied by thunder and lightning, and (probably because of the weather) there wasn’t any electricity so we opted to travel unwashed.

We did our packing in slow motion, then wrote up our journals, but still we were hanging around waiting for breakfast to happen. These are not the kind of hotels where breakfast is there waiting and guests just turn up; these were the sort of hotels where breakfast only happened at the pre-arranged time, made specially for us, and we rarely saw any other guests.

Our driver had been out shopping in the market and bought some sweet/salty rice crackers, made in Burma. They got shared around the group and were a great hit, so the driver went back and bought a whole packet, nearly as big as I am, before we departed. Despite this, we still managed to set off ahead of time, so given we were driving past a bookshop that had been closed the night before, we requested an unscheduled stop to search for a book on WW2 in Kohima for T. There wasn’t anything in stock on that particular topic, but she did manage to buy a memoir about the childhood experience of WW2 in the neighbouring state of Manipur. We bought a book of information – very random information – about Northeast India, complete with quizzes. We also bought the previous day’s Nagaland Post. I had terrible trouble getting the shopkeeper to keep the Rs1 change. That’s the equivalent of 1p.

A flower?

After a 90 minute drive we arrived in a Rengma tribe village. It was much more prosperous than the villages we’d seen previously. There were wide (relatively speaking) tarmac streets, small walls and privet hedges round the properties, and, as ever, a big church.

Children on a Sunday

Rice was kept in granaries-on-stilts. Pigs, piglets and chickens were kept in pens-on-stilts. There were lots of gorgeous dogs. Everything seemed much cleaner.

Which way?

#1 guide told us that there is a lot of government money available for education. Some communities distribute and use it, in other places it gets pocketed. The Rengma village is prosperous because the money has been used and the people are educated.

There was also a bridge left by the British in WW2, made out of two I-beams stamped with “Frodingham Iron & Steel, London”.

War bridge

An hour away we stopped to visit a Lotha tribe village. It was different again, less dirty and muddy than the Angami villages, but less…solid than the Rengma village. We encountered an odd fellow who insisted that J take his photo. While she did so, the man’s wife admired the generous proportions of J’s hips and bosom.

The gang is here

I knew it would be normal to see people – women – working on looms in places like this and had intended all along to invest in some textiles. (When don’t I plan to invest in textiles!) Frustratingly, and probably because of it being Easter Holiday time, no-one was actually doing any work. #2 guide, however, did find someone who had work to sell. She had some narrow red scarves that were impressive to look at, but stiff and not very pleasing to the touch. She also had a softer piece of predominantly black cloth that would be a skirt if used locally; I bought it as a shawl. She was delighted that I bought it and exclaimed ‘God bless you’. #2 guide assured me that I’d paid less than market price, but I assume the woman would normally have sold to a middleman and received less than I paid. Everyone a winner.

I’m actually planning to make a really big pillow with the fabric, instead, now that I’ve got it home.

— words by Elizabeth & Paul
— pictures by Paul & Elizabeth
— more pictures in Assam & Nagaland album and Kohima album.




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