Matt Dworzanczyk continues his journey via Manipur and towards Bangladesh to reunite with Nemo, his motorbike
The joys of being multicultural
“Where are you from!?”
Not to sound like a trust fund child complaining about too much travel, but try explaining to someone who speaks three words of English that you were born in one place, have two passports from somewhere else, live elsewhere and yet still you don’t have a home to go ‘back’ to.
“From Poland.” (Let’s make it easy.)
Other times I make up places to amuse myself: “From Neverland!”
No matter what, I end up Dutch…
Evening. I’m about to sleep when four immigration guys show up banging on my door. Eeek! They couldn’t work out what to enter in the computer under ‘nationality’ and walked from one guesthouse to the next searching for me to save their jobs. I feel bad.
Since 5am waiting for a ride to Imphal. Everybody is going but nobody’s going. Flexible Indian Time all the way. Zero communication. Roads are blocked due to protests. Finally get a ride on a van packed to the seams with fabrics. You think nothing else could possibly fit inside, then another person squeezes in. One woman actually goes the bumpy six hour ride with a washing basin on her head.
More military along the way then I’ve ever seen in my life. Are things really that bad here?
A dusty, overly polluted and unattractive town. Tension in the streets. People are quick to tell you they’re not Indian. They’re clearly not happy with the Indian rule and feel forgotten by the mainland and the rest of the world.
Everyone’s eager to show and tell you all about their their clothes, food, dance, arts, culture and architecture, somehow trying to make up for all the time lost to conflict, as if seeking a lifeline for their cultural survival...
Piles of rotting garbage. A pack of cows scouring for food. Cyclos flying by; thick dust in the air. In other words; a local market. A shady old woman approaches whispering something I can’t understand, very much in a Khao San tuk-tuk driver fashion. I hand her 50 rupees, which quickly disappear in the many layers of her old, dirty sari. She leads me behind the market, past filthy sewage into a dim alleyway, then into a rather nondescript building. Three floors up, smells of masala and urine — a nauseating combination — emanate all around. Against my better judgment, I’m still following her. She opens a heavy metal door covered with old, dry betel nut spit and lets me in to a dark, sweaty room. Welcome to a Manipuri cinema.
It’s been a month without Nemo, my bike. A month too long. I’m off to Bangladesh looking forward to our reunion, mere days away now. We’ll explore more of India’s northeast together, very soon!
For more on Matt’s films and travels, check out the Etherium Sky Production Blog at EtheriumSky.com/ProdBlog