Rain. Mud. Gravel.
No chance to make it to Aizawl by sunset. Am beyond exhausted. Camping it is.
8pm. Just fell asleep. Nosy crowd forming outside, intent on waking me up.
10pm. Fell asleep again. Nope — locals are back with police.
Thanks for your concern but I promise I will be fine! Can I sleep now, please?!
11pm. Two teenagers outside, one trying to convince the other that there truly is a “real foreigner in there!”
12.30am. “Hello, sir! Where from you!?”
From “sleep let me, dammit!”
5am. “Sir, breakfast??”
Where God Walks the Earth
“Far east, past Champhai, there’s an ancient, sacred land. It’s off the map, but worry not — you’ll be safe. For it’s the place where God himself walks the earth.”
Thank you, old man! No idea what you’re on about but I’m intrigued! Which way??
The village of Kelkang. Maaan! A cocainated disco meets a circus — in a church! People singing, dancing, screaming, rolling on the ground! All to an eerily vaudeville soundtrack from an old-school band.
And that’s just the ‘welcome’! Next morning — thousands rolling in the mud, in the rain; crawling through the forest, eating dirt, speaking in tongues, crying, laughing, praying…
And then there’s me in my rain boots, with my little, yellow umbrella, munching on my biscuits and feeling equally fascinated and absolutely disturbed.
Joining the list of unexpected surprises on this journey of mine, deep in the dry state of Mizoram — a vast, mountainous vineyard! And the kindest family invites me to stay the night!
A wine tasting! They only have two wines: one surprisingly decent — the choice for foreigners. The other, a mix of fruit juice and sulphuric acid, is apparently preferred by locals (“it’s sweeter!”).
Meter deep, quicksand mud. Steep cliff on one side, deep fall on the other. Maaan!
Two hours, barely 10km. Can’t keep going, can’t turn back. 300kms left, and I’m already drained like never before. Setting 100-meter goals just to feel I’m moving. Stopping every two minutes to build bridges to get through. Death!
Then — rocks. And rain. The road is a steep up-and-down muddy river with frequent waterfalls through the mountains.
Hours pass. No relief. Pushing on through razor sharp bushes, slicing through my gloves, through my skin.
Nearly dark. I’ve gone a mere 70kms all day. Front brakes dead. Messed up chain. No food, no water, no road. No town and I don’t dare seek rest in the lonely mountain village, in this area notorious for their rebel groups and border trafficking.
Nowhere to pitch a tent either. Sleeping (not) in the forest. ‘End of my life’ montage playing in my head.
…and my meter hit 10,000kms today. Happy Anniversary.
Back to life
Back in Imphal. And I’m thanking whichever Hindu god looks after crazy white guys and their bikes. They must have one, no?
Field trip to town. Main attraction: cops with heavy armed vehicles about to have a confrontation with a rioting crowd.
Tear gas and drama! And the locals are more concerned for me than I am myself — Go away, I wanna watch, dammit!
Took shelter at some friendly guy’s place. He lives with a deer — in his bed, a rabbit — chumming on his plants on the floor, a beautiful owl, supposedly rescued though sadly stuck in a filthy cage, and to top it all, a goat crazy for marijuana. Not a little pet goat, but a big, angry mountain goat that’ll tackle anyone to steal their weed. The guy even got his goat a girl-goat for distraction (because one goat in a house wasn’t enough) but the stoner goat couldn’t care less. He just wants weed.
It’s “Dude, Where’s my car? — Imphal Edition” and I got front seats to the premiere. Maaan! Is this really happening?!