Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Manipur Diaries

A Goan in Manipur looking for home finds he isn’t exactly welcome. The local Meiteis have taken to blocking the streets demanding that the state government implement the Inner Line Permit System that will prevent indiscriminate influx of “outsiders” from destroying their way of life and buying their land. And so I find myself pretty much holed up in an tiny but airy room in a nondescript lodge overlooking the incomplete remains of Dewlahland.

An ol’ peacenik friend of mine had asked me to conduct a photography workshop for undergrad youth in Churachandpur, Manipur. I agreed immediately as I was looking for an opportunity to meet the Bene Menashe tribe who live there waiting to make "aliyah". In my excitement, I even booked tickets for Sayuri n Sarada but had to eventually cancel as the ILPs protests intensified and everyone around thought it would be stressful.

I flew in to Imphal last afternoon via Calcutta where a friend's friend came to pick me...Geology united us :). He greeted me with an uncertain giggle and we drove into town with no real plan. “I’ll come to the airport and then we’ll see”, he had said the previous night on FBchat. I was open to any eventuality and happy to go with the flow. Outside the window, Imphal seemed like a city trying desperately to grow but its attempts curtailed. Roads, buildings, bridges, everything incomplete and like most Indian cities dirty and unkempt. 

Between hotels that were closed due to the "disturbances" and those beyond budget, I settled for this lodge in Dewlahland, in an area populated by "tribal people" and therefore safe for me. From my room I could see the War Cemetery and so this morning, thinking that the dead wouldn't mind my being around, I went to pay my respects. 

The Battle of Imphal in 1944 was the turning point of the Second World War where hundreds of Indian, British, Japanese were killed. 

Saturday, March 07, 2015

...and unto us is born a queen!

Christmas came early last year! In fact, 'the star' was sighted in March itself, while SHE came home in May - on the 14th of May at 5:01pm, to be precise...changing our lives forever (he said rather euphemistically;)

Adjectives pale into insignificance as I attempt to put to word all that one has experienced n felt over these last ten months. Indescribably new and beautiful...something one hasn't experienced before.

I will never forget the long drive back home from the adoption agency that evening. It wasn't the car I was driving, my hands weren't on the steering wheel and it wasn't the road I was driving on. I was gliding with the most precious cargo. So what if she bawled her eyes out before drifting to sleep only to wake up bawling again. Our hearts heaved a collective sigh as we exchanged worried looks. Exhausted from crying so much, she slept deeply that first night. So did we, forgetting that we even had a baby. How we shrieked, "there's a babyyy!" upon waking up next morning :)

Sayuri Sarada Noronha

all of five months old began teaching us, fortyfiveyearoldfarts, about life n love right away. There is love and then, there is love. But how does one explain or describe the love one feels towards this constipated worm who looks at you unblinkingly?

Ten months later, the wonderment has only increased and the joy boundless. We kiss each other ever thankful for this gift, this blessing that has blossomed into a beautiful little lily.