Daithí got a follow up ultrasound three weeks post surgery and while the liver abscess was still present, doctors were happy for us to continue our journey with another two week course of antibiotics and a follow up scan in four weeks time. By the time we reached the border at Tamu, we had overstayed our visas by one day, it is unofficial but pay $3 US per day you overstay and you are good to go. A bit of paperwork as to why we had overstayed and paid the fee and we were officially out of Myanmar. At the entry point to India we had our temperatures checked and screened for covid-19, once clear we entered into Moreh, India.
Nearly 18% of the worlds population live in India. 450 people per square km. To put it another way, if Ireland had the equivalent, our population would be 38 million.
First thing we noticed was how many people spoke fluent English. The first day whilst cycling up a mountain where some kids were helping construct a building. The kids ran out to the road shouting “Hello, how are you?” We get this in every country as these would be the first phrases you learn in school when they teach English. Usually that is where the conversation stops. I replied to one of the kids asking “are you helping to build a house?” When this young man replied “no it’s a market” we both nearly fell off the bikes.
From here on we have many stories that are difficult to put into words of the hospitality shown to us. A couple in Imphal paid for our accommodation, showed us around the city and had us to their house for dinner. A secondary school teacher in the mountains of the Nagaland State where he housed 13 students allowed us stay with them, eat with them and talk about their cultural and rituals. Almost 100% of people in the Nagaland state identify as Christian with nearly all subjects in schools thought in English. We were able to have in depth conversations about their struggles for independence, families raising Yaks to be able to get their kids an education to the ancient myths and superstitions of the Naga people that are still practiced today.
We arrived late one evening in a small village called Langhin in the state of Assam. We went to a small restaurant for some food. This restaurant didn’t have electricity. We had no where to stay and had hoped maybe someone could point us in the direction that we could set up our tents. We asked the man in the restaurant who had very limited English by giving the universal sleep signal. He insisted we stay with him. We didn’t know at the time but this man was very poor. His house was a small room with a double bed that he, ceiling made of cardboard and bamboo, shared with his wife and two sons, a communal toilet and room where you wash with a bucket of cold water shared between four of these rooms. One son aged 9 and the other 19. He asked if the floor was ok and it was more than enough for us. We ate together and he proudly showed us a Hare Krishna week long festival that was taking place in the village. He then decided that the floor was not good enough, that they would sleep in his brother in laws room across the way and we would take his house for the night. His sons put clean sheets on the bed for us and as hard as we tried they would not take no for an answer. This is just one of many many stories like this, what I just wrote doesn’t even do it justice. The man had nothing to give us and he gave us his house. This has been the story of the people in North East India. A place so diverse, each state is similar to arriving in a new country.
As always, thank you for taking the time to read this piece.