Encased in Ziro's green appeal

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Encased in Ziro's green appeal

I have always found myself resisting travelling abroad. I vaguely remember childhood trips to Kathmandu and once to Europe, where jet lag got the better of me and I slept through all the cross-country road trips and even the grand production of Phantom of the Opera.

The fact will always remain that India will never cease to amaze me, to fascinate the child in me who wants to know the story of the snake charmer on the road or the charming lady selling bangles in a little corner of the town square.

So when I found myself on a rather windy 20-hour bus journey from Guwahati to a little village called Ziro in Arunachal Pradesh, I wasn’t prepared to see the side of India that I was about to. The land where clouds descend upon the tents you stay in, where paddy fields can be seen as far as one’s eyes can see, where a hundred shades of green fill up the panorama option on your camera.

It’s a silencing kind of beauty, one that is unique to the North East, where nature is at its rawest, and the stories of people who belong there are some of the most unforgettable.
At the time I visited Ziro, there had been heavy rainfall and floods across the seven states, especially Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. Fortunately for me, I didn’t have any near-death experiences during that visit, but I did have a lot of praise for everything I experienced, with photographs to prove my claims.

Moreover, to be there for a music festival in the middle of nowhere made it all the more enticing. There I was camping alone with a bunch of happy people, some of whom I knew from before, many of whom I discovered at Ziro. There were some exceptional bands performing. The food of the place was another highlight, especially for non-vegetarians, who relished the crisp silkworms and barbeque chicken with a myriad of sauces. And let’s not forget the happiest element of the place — rice beer! Even to be drunk  in Ziro is a unique experience.

But most of all, it’s the Apatani tribe that I remember. Belonging to the Sino-Tibetan family and residing in and around Ziro, they are a tribe full of folk tales and music, of devout worship of nature and a strong love for their community. They’d be easy to identify with their large nose plugs and tattoos, going to the fields with the basket on their shoulders, ready for a hard day’s work.

Though I only understood their stories secondhand through locals who would translate them into Hindi, there was one special moment that defined my visit to Ziro. On one of my solo escapades across the fields, I met Tage, a paddy farmer who could not talk to me or answer the gazillion questions I wanted to ask (for lack of a common language). But for the 10 minutes I stood there, admiring her swift movements at chopping the paddy stalks, we spoke in smiles and laughter. And, that worked out just fine for me.

Returning to Ziro will surely become an annual feature, the greenest chunk of heaven on earth.

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