Part 5 : Negotiating the Learning Curve
Time flies. It has already been three months since our move to Mizoram and life has fallen into a routine. After the initial teething issues, we have comfortably settled into our new home. On weekdays, it’s business as usual, but come Saturdays, our weekly adventures are on! In Mizoram, the government has a 5-day work policy. Saturdays are the bazaar days in Aizawl, and one would see crowds weaving in and out of shops and streets, stocking up their weekly grocery supply and going for picnics to the several scenic spots in and around the city. Sundays are church days for the local population and we mostly R&R at our home.
There are two official languages here in Mizoram- Mizo and English. Mizo is a Tibeto – Burman language and is transliterated into Latin script, and I learnt recently that Mizo has its own alphabet system too. Whenever we move to a new state, we try to learn the local language, which is not just a mental adventure, but it also helps us understand the local culture better. In our endeavor, we have created a WhatsApp group with just the two of us, which is our place to share the Mizo words that we learn daily. Mizo language must be intonated just right, as different contexts and tones yield different meanings to the same word. I have noted down the word “lei” in our group which has four meanings (as far as I know)- it could mean bridge, tongue, soil, or buy. Our colleagues and neighbours have been most encouraging and appreciative of our language studies, often patiently correcting the pronunciation and giving word inputs to expand our Mizo vocabulary, which at present is comparable to that of a two-year old’s. But I think, it’s the vegetable vendors who are really at the receiving end of our learning antics. While we are making some good progress, the occasional goof-ups are unavoidable. Couple of weeks ago, I bought a very expensive watermelon, having misheard za-thum (Three hundred) as za-sawmthum (One hundred and thirty). The fruit was already in my bag when I realized my mistake, much to Manohar’s amusement. Anyhow, in the end, we ate it very diligently. It was very sweet and juicy.
Armed with the few Mizo language phrases, GPS technology, and our very own Honda Activa, we are now using Saturdays and weekends more efficiently. The markets are lively quite early in the day and we finish the weekly shopping and breakfast by ten-ish. The rest of the day is spent exploring Aizawl as well as the many picnic spots around the city. We visited two waterfalls so far, both needing a short trek through bamboo forests. Khawhpawp falls is just about fifteen minutes from our home, and quite an unusual sight, with water gushing through a hole in the rock. Azuali falls is a bit further away, about fifteen kilometers away from the city. GPS, in its usual style, redirected us through an apparent shortcut, which was through an impossibly steep, barely tarred road. Bumpy ride aside, the view on the shortcut was phenomenal. A river meandering in a valley between two mountains, is not something that one gets to see every day. While the waterfall is easy to spot from the road, it was not easy to figure out how to reach it due to the lack of signages. But we eventually figured it out and it was worth the effort. Waterflow isn’t much right now in either of these falls as the rains are yet awaited; we might return to enjoy them in their full glory later. I would have liked to say that these waterfalls were pristine, but single-use plastics have reached even these remote spots. College students and other organizations do cleanup drives in these areas, but what is needed is a more collective action to preserve the environment. Say no to single-use plastics!
We also visited Reiek Tlang around 30 kilometers away from Aizawl city, Tlang meaning Mountain in the Mizo language. En route, we visited Ailawng, and after a bit of off-roading, we enjoyed breathtaking views, complete with a hanging footbridge. We reached Reiek in the evening and visited a life-size model of a Zokhua, a traditional Mizo village. We stayed overnight at the tourist resort there and the next morning, after a hot breakfast of Aloo parathas, we began our trek. The 2.5 km uphill climb was through a forest, and one could see a variety of flowering orchids. The view at the top with the clouds descending to the earth made us forget any strain of the climb. Surprisingly, the crowd was next to none, so we thoroughly enjoyed not only the clean mountain air but also the calmness of nature. We are back home now and plotting our next escape.
PHOTO CREDIT : DR AISWARYALAKSHMI | MANOHAR KRISHNAN
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