My Second speech was an excerpt prepared from one of my travel diaries, I hope you will enjoy reading it and be convinced to explore the far east of our country..
One fine Friday evening, sometime in the month of July last year, I was returning from my college. After a two hours long journey in the bus, I reached home and sat for an evening tea with my parents. Usually, after a long tiring busy day we tend to talk about the subjects, we are most interested in doing but somehow unable to manage time for such activities in our hectic schedule. One such subject of interest for me and my family is Trekking. Every time we are bored of our monotonous routine lives, we start to plan. Whether the plan is brought to action or not, it is secondary, planning in itself is the most joyous task to do. For us, it has always acted as a stress buster. And on that very Friday evening, it was yet another session of some entertainment. I started off the debate looking at the pamphlet which my father had brought , of the National Trekking Expedition to Mizoram being conducted by the Youth Hostels Association of India. My mother declared me insane for a short while, telling me to think rationally. Yes, that is how I normally see people reacting whenever travelling to the “North East” of the country is talked about. It is considered a place almost as far as a foreign country. So this time, it took an extra effort for me to convince my parents for this very plan. Fortunately they were convinced well in time and even I was determined to execute this exciting & adventurous plan.
Fellow toastmasters & dear Guests, in the next few minutes, I am going to take you on a very short and quick trip to the state of Mizoram and also sharing my own experiences and memories that I collected over the 10 days I spent there.
Mizoram, a mountainous region became the 23rd State of the Union in February 1987, bordered by Bangladesh, Myanmar & Assam, Tripura & Manipur. The distance from New Delhi to Mizoram is almost 2500 Kms, which makes it a “difficult to access” place. And this was also one of the reasons which made us contemplate over the mode of our travelling. Fortunately, we got the approval of the Special Leave Travel Concession for North East by the Govt. of India and we made it to the hills by an air journey. The topography of Mizoram makes it ideal for trekking. It is a land of rolling hills, valleys, rivers, lakes and tropical rain forests. We reached the LANGPUI Airport in the capital city of Aizawl via Kolkata on a Saturday afternoon hospitable, and a close-knit society with no class distinction and no discrimination on grounds of sex. Due to its location in the far-east of the country, the sun rises as early as 3 o’clock in the morning and sets by 5 o’clock in the evening which is a very rare scene to observe in other parts of the country. While roaming around the city in the evening, we found that people are very fond of cars and a huge number of taxis ply all over the city. There were well organized traffic jams across the city roads as they follow lane driving on the hill roads. The valley is full of skyscrapers which shine with thousands of white and yellow lights after dark. When we sat for dinner, I was very excited to order a local Mizo delicacy. The ‘Rutwa Bai’ a vegetable curry made of bamboo shoots is one of the very popular dishes. There and then I realized, people of this place have very differently developed taste buds than ours and suddenly I started to miss the street food of Delhi. Sundays, people do not prefer to work and most of them offer services to the church. Surprisingly, there is no cinema hall in Aizawl, but people do not refrain themselves from entertaining activities. In fact, they are blessed with talent of both music and sports. People fondly follow both football and western music. Mizo society is one of the most modern and fashionable society.
After this colorful weekend in the city, the following week was supposed to be in the middle of tropical rain forests of Mizoram and that was no less colorful. It was amazing to see, that people from all parts of the country had come to enjoy the beauty of nature. During our briefing, we were already told about the presence of leeches and snakes in the forests and that we would also have a thrilling experience of caving. Walking up and down the hills, shouting out loud to hear the echo of our own voice, presence of all kinds of butterflies and spider webs and capturing them in our camera, bathing in the river, living in the tents etc. was something that filled my heart and soul with happiness. There were six Mizo guides with a group of 60 people that were left to wander in the greens. Caving is by far the most adventurous experience of my life. To explore a cave, a huge dark, long cave where several life forms exist is something that can’t be put into words. To know it, one has to do it.
The nights were spent gazing at the stars, formation of the constellations and in the morning nature calls were attended in the open natural environment. All of these felt heavenly. The week started off with a group of strangers and ended up with making some great friends.
And now it was time to return back home. The air was filled with Nostalgia. Not to forget, I also spent my last year’s Diwali in these forests. It felt odd leaving home on Diwali but now it seems an unforgettable experience, the hustle bustle was not missing; we lit candles under the sky full of stars, with not even an iota of pollution around. Returning home, there was lots to share and lot to talk about, as it had become one of the most cherished memories.
Missing Mizoram…want to go back there…