Thursday, 21 November 2013

Seven Sisters ......enigmatic and beautiful....the First Sister

*    Seven Sisters is a name given to the contiguous states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura in northeastern India. These states cover about 7 % of India's total area and 3.7 % of India's total population. There is great ethnic and religious diversity within the seven states.

*    The region has a predominantly tribal population that speak numerous Tibeto-Burman and Austro-asiatic languages. 

The First Sister- Mizoram

*     The Mizos, as the legend goes, emerged from under a large rock known as Chhinlung. Two people of the Ralte clan  started talking noisily while coming out of the region. They made a great noise which made their god, the Pathian, to throw up his hands in disgust and feel too many people had been allowed to step out and so he closed the door. 

*     Chhinlung, is a Chinese city of Sinlung close on the Sino-Burmese border. The Mizos have songs and stories about the glory of the ancient Chhinlung civilisation handed down from one generation to the next.

*    In China in 210 B.C., the rebellions broke out and chaos reigned throughout the Chinese State. Then the Mizos left China as part of one of waves of migration. They first settled in Shan State in Burma after overcoming the local resistance. The Shans had already been firmly settled in their State when Mizos came there from Chhinlung around 5th century. The Shans did not welcome the new arrivals, but failed to throw the Mizos out. 

*       The Mizos lived happily in Shan for about 300 years before they moved on to the Kabaw Valley around the 8th century. Then they changed settlements several times, moving from Shan State to the Kabaw Valley in Burma. In the Kabaw Valley, the Mizos had unhindered interaction with the local Burmese. The two cultures met and the two tribes influenced each other in clothing, customs, music and sports.

*       In the early 14th century, they settled in the Chin Hills on the Indo-Burmese border. They built villages and called them by their clan names such as Seipui, Saihmun and Bochung. The Lushais were the last of the Mizo tribes to migrate to the Lushai Hills.

*      Mizoram is the land of myth, fables and folklores. Here the lakes, waterfalls and hills have a tale of their own. For some, refer my previous posts and for the rest, pack up your bags and explore the land yourself. I don't want to take the joy away from you by writing more about the place. I've lived here for six long years and the state has been inspiration to many of my short stories, a few novels and paintings. Hope you too find inspiration for something here.

*      Good luck and god bless.........

 ............(to be continued)

Friday, 15 November 2013

The Broken Window

Thirteen hours of back-breaking journey had brought him to the New Delhi Airport. He had flown over one ocean and two continents and landed in the third. Most of the passengers, a mixed group, had slept during the flight. However, his co-passenger, a young man in mid-thirties, had kept awake throughout. The brief interaction with him had been uninspiring. As the young man immersed himself in his iPad, he closed his eyes and chose to walk down the memory lane, running into twenty long years. In mind the images moved faster than the heart could digest. It was tough for him to follow the pace of his memories.
            Twenty years ago, as an undergraduate, he had come to the States to do his masters in the civil engineering. He was one of the luckiest few chosen for the scholarship by the institute. A sense of bewilderment had struck him when he had landed at the JFK International Airport. A village boy from a backward region in the central India had entered the El Dorado. It was some kind of a fairytale journey, about which thousands of Indian youth dreamed each year but only a couple of hundreds realised it. 

(For complete story please go to Short Stories section)

Friday, 8 November 2013

It rained last night

Their journeys had come to a brief halt at a ghostly station from where both, after seven hours, were to take connecting trains to their different destinations. They were a woman and a man, who, after initial surprise and subsequent introduction had settled down, in an air of unease, in the lone waiting room at the lone platform. The station in the best of sunlight inspired little optimism, in the night it brought complete gloom. There was a stationmaster, who did almost every job except cleaning the tracks, a clerk who did almost every work except typing letters, a vendor who sold almost everything stale except tea and a coolie who carted around almost every load except passengers. Mostly poor people alighted here.
         When the coolie noticed a lady with some pretence to beauty, clad in a costly sari, get down from the train, his eyes lit up. He sensed a chance to make some money and rushed to her, who asked him to take her to the waiting room. An hour later the next train brought a rich-looking man, whose luggage too he brought to the same room. Two passengers in one single day had been godsend. Both looked stinking rich and their gestures promised him a good tip in addition to his charges. This prospect energised him and he rushed back to the vendor and brought them hot tea, with less sugar and milk. From his previous experiences he knew that the rich people, unlike the poor, didn’t take their tea heavy in milk and sugar.

                           (read complete story in short story section)

Friday, 1 November 2013

Nala Damayanti.......

* Photo credit..Raja Ravi Verma

*       Damayanti, a princess of Vidarbha Kingdom, fell in love with King Nala of Nishad Kingdom, hearing of his virtues and accomplishments from a golden swan.

*      When she had chosen her husband at a swayamvara, where the gods, princes and kings had come to seek her hand. The Gods, Indra, Agni, Varuna and Yama were on their way for attendance when they met Nala. They ordered him to be their messenger and inform Damayanti to choose one of them as her husband. Nala first refused, but finally accepted . Damayanti agreed to pay her respects to the gods, but insisted on choosing only Nala as her husband.

*      The Gods then disguised themselves as Nala in the swayamvara. Damayanti went past them each time, as she knew Nala was a human being and cannot be perfect.The demon Kali, also wanted to marry Damayanti. On his arrival, he learnt that he was late for the swayamvara. He ran into the gods who mocked him. Kali then angrily vowed to cause the fall of Nala’s kingdom through his propensity for gambling.

*      Damayanti and Nala were married and had two children. Kali entered the palace as a servant, and for 12 years kept watch on him. One day, Nala in a rush said his prayers without washing his feet, thereby allowing Kali to bewitch his soul. In games of dice with his brother Pushkara, he lost his kingdom, forcing Nala and Damayanti to live in poverty in the forest.

*     In the forest the birds flew away with the only garment Nala had. He started worrying for Damayanti and resolved to abandon her to protect her from his bad luck. Damayanti found herself alone in the forest. Nala, meanwhile, rescued the Snake King Nāga Karkotaka from a fire. The Nāga bit him. Nala survived the bite, but the venom turned him into an unrecognizable dwarf named Bahuka, who served as a charioteer to the Ayodhya King Rituparna.

*      Damayanti was finally discovered and taken back to her father's house where she was reunited with her children. They searched for Nala, but couldn't find him. Damayanti thought that Nala would only come back if he feared she wouldn't be his wife anymore. Thus she requested a fake second swayamvara. She was still an irresistible beauty and so many kings attended. Nala's master also went to the swayamvara, and Nala accompanied him. On their journey, the king taught the dwarf the techniques of gambling.

*     When King Rituparna revealed him the skill of controlling the dice, finally the poison took effect and Bahuka vomited Kali from his body and imprisoned him to a tree. Damayanti was persuaded that the dwarf was Nala . The pair was reunited and Nala was transformed into his familiar form. He used the knowledge of gambling to regain everything he had lost.

*      She forgave him for having abandoned her in the forest, and he forgave her for another swayamvara.
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