Look Within By Joshua Anglo
Of Late, I wanted to take a break from the mundane life and trivial city issues that makes us lethargic.
To be away at some place so totally new that no one knows me, and I know no one.
Luckily I got the chance to visit such place with my relatives, in the North- East India –Imphal city, Capital of Manipur.
So I took this journey with lots of apprehension and curiosity to discover something new.
Soon on arrival, I was welcomed by lush green open spaces, beautiful mountains covered with clouds and pure breeze.
I was totally mesmerized by the Early Dawns and dusk, the scent of pine Trees, clouds touching your skin, varied shades of nature.
I felt like God has painted this place with His own hands.
My accommodation was at a small quarter at games village with my relatives.
Needless to say, was pretty unusual for a city boy like me.
The place, though humble, was truly serene and heart-warming. I totally adjusted to the warmth and love that was offered to me.
I visited the Loktak lake – famous for the phumdis floating over it.
Keibul Lamjao, the only floating national park in the world floats over it.
The experience was truly enriching.
Dining under the trees in open sky of the National Park was million times better than ambience of any Five Star Hotel.
Shopping at the Ima Keithel Women’s Market, (a market run by women only) was something one must experience.
The trip to the National Museum made me aware of the history of Manipur and how prominent has been its contribution to India’s freedom movement.
The India Peace Memorial and Imphal War Cemetery narrate stories of heroes and their heroism. One cannot but feel humbled and obliged listening to their acts of valour.
Ruins of Kangla fort take you back to the pages of history.
In Manipur, one can get pure, natural air that no world class Air conditioner can provide.
The food, here, is grown in natural non-toxic environment and is so healthy that most ailments get cured only by eating those.
The food is mostly eaten in raw or boiled form. I have fallen in love with ‘Eromba’, ‘Chumput’, ‘Chikeem’ and many such local delicacies so much so that I even learnt to prepare them.
It is really surprising why such a beautiful place is not being promoted for tourism and still remains remote? It was a bit sad to see that even after so many years of independence the place still lacks in many basic amenities like proper roads, electricity and water, thanks to negligent attitude of authorities and lack of proper transportation mode. The Railway is yet to reach Manipur and large part of North East India.
And though, there are no proper roads here, the heart feels free to stroll around. Even electricity is unavailable most of the times, yet the warmth and love people offer is enough to lighten the darkness.
In absence of network coverage and in company of serene surroundings, you can truly hear your inner voice.
But above all, what make this place truly inspiring and memorable are its people – simple, loving, strong-willed and tranquil.
The natives are blessed with indomitable spirit to never give up and make the best out of what they have. They are poor, but do not starve as most of them have their own small kitchen garden to feed from. Women wake up at the earliest hour and keep doing all sorts of work to earn livelihood.
Even when militancy and frequent curfews paralyze normal life here, people strive and hope for better and safe future.
Almost everyone speaks fluent English here.
Though, I was an alien person among them the open-heartedness with which they accepted me, cared for me was truly touching. Out of the little they had, they gave me plenty to cherish.
Even though our looks, language and culture are different, what binds us together is the feeling of belonging and Humanity.
The times I had here will be engraved in my heart forever. That’s the reason while returning I was bit nostalgic.
Along with various food items and souvenirs of Manipur and North East, I have brought back so many profound and never ceasing memories.
That will always inspire me, keep me rooted to reality and make me humble.
What breaks my heart is the way we discriminate North East People.
When we make fun of their looks, ignoring their ever loving heart.
When we treat them as if they are not one of us, without even trying to know how wonderful people they are.
Their struggle against all odds is inspirational.
By making anyone low, no one can become supreme.
Thanks to Northeast India, for making me realize this.
Only when we are free from all biases and preconceived notions, we can look around and within, thus attaining peace.
I simply love North East India and its people. So much that I even learnt bit of Manipuri language.
So take this journey with yourself to some unknown territory, break off the jinx, embrace the world around and find yourself.
God has created us all in his image and views us equally, then why can’t we break our self-created bars?
Let’s open up our hearts to show love and respect to our fellow beings. Trust me it’s truly worth it.
And as they say in Manipuri-
Noong_ngai_biribra? (“How are you?”)
“Noongaijari. Ei Manipur nungshi” (I am fine, I love Manipur.)
(The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)