Sojourn to the Northeast – Mizoram
An integral part of India, culturally and linguistically the tiny state of Mizoram is different in the manner that people think, talk, act, dress and behave.
Bumper-to-bumper traffic welcomed me at Aizawl. I was in the main thoroughfare of the city having just endured a trying 6-hour journey from Silchar. I almost regretted my decision to visit Mizoram for a short break following a busy week at the hospital in Silchar. As I resigned myself to yet another hour on the road, I began to notice that the traffic inching forward was noiseless – unlike in my native city and many other places in the country. There was no honking, bikes did not suddenly dart and zigzag to get in front of me. Everyone waited for their turn to move forward. Besides the car lanes, two parallel lanes of bike riders lined in opposite directions, every rider and pillion helmeted. Many of them were probably returning after a busy day at work but that did not seem to give them the right to break traffic rules – a lesson every Indian city could follow.
Negotiating winding roads across hills we made our way to the mountain resort village of Reiek, an hour’s drive from the city. The village holds an annual Anthurium festival of culture and music that was celebrated with great fervour a week before I was there. The next morning armed with a water bottle and my phone I trekked to the top of the Reiek Tlang bemused by the clouds that played hide and seek with the towering peaks. In the far distance mountains bordering Myanmar loomed on one side and the plains of Bangladesh on the other. On my return from the hike I stopped at the heritage village which offered a peek into Mizo traditions, habits and lifestyle.
The lady at the homestay cooked me a tasty pork dish topped with rice. While I waited I listened to a band on the local TV channel belting out some modern Mizo numbers. The lady’s pretty teenage daughter served me lunch and changed the channel to western music; apparently for my benefit. I objected, she laughed and changed back to the local channel; even began to sing with the band.
Music and fashion are wired into the DNA of every Mizo. Everywhere I went in Aizawl I saw youngsters dressed in ultra-modern fashionable attire; whether going to the office, shopping or for an outing. While the traditional Mizo attire is worn mostly for family functions or church, the younger generation seems in tune with the latest trending international fashions.
Ninety percent of the population are educated Christians, everyone attends Sunday church and multiple services too. The entire city shuts down on Sunday and tourists can have a hard time. Prohibition is strictly enforced, restaurants and other establishments close down by 9 pm on weekdays and drug culture is rampant. To dissuade from alcohol and drugs, youngsters are encouraged to participate in sports and adventure activities. Football is the latest craze and in a short period of time, the Mizoram football team has become a force to reckon with at the national level.
I made my way to the airport as the city woke up to the beginning of a busy week. I regretted that I did not have one more day to spend experiencing the vibrant city life of this secreted part of our country. I too had made the cardinal error of not putting in that extra effort to be better informed of the cultural traditions of a state where Sunday is a day for prayer and rest.
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M M Maitreyi
February 2, 2023 at 6:19 pm
Interesting. So little people in the rest of the country know about Northeast States, people, their culture and lifestyle. Quite impressed with the fact that there was no honking and people abide by road safety rules. But for the rampant drug culture, Mizoram people seem nice, modern, who enjoy their life and cherish their weekly off.
February 2, 2023 at 7:41 pm
A well written introduction to the Mizo way of life. Surely there must be more that you couldn’t pen into this blog! 👏🏽👏🏽
February 2, 2023 at 7:47 pm
An Indian city with noiseless traffic….feels like a dream!
February 2, 2023 at 8:51 pm
Fascinating account of Mizoram. Travelling to the Northeast is on my wish list. Looking forward to the tennis chapter.
February 2, 2023 at 9:12 pm
Reading your blog makes your readers feel like they are travelling with you 😌
February 4, 2023 at 4:25 pm
Your stories touch differently, sir.
Such a natural story teller
Looking forward for your next column Sir!!
February 13, 2023 at 11:02 am
Your virtual tour through writing is amazing, felt like I was in that traffic Jam and getting frustrated. The same thing I saw in Bali. Patience to the core in following traffic rules and system with such narrow roads.
Finally i also admit that I have added Mizoram to my bucket list after reading your blog and experiencing the tour and trek through your eyes.
Interesting to know Doc, you take time out for travelling. Cheers
March 1, 2023 at 8:19 pm
Hello Sir, after reading your blog the desire to visit North east is rekindled..