The streets were empty. The highway would also be empty, if not for a random essential commodity vehicle passing by; other vehicles remain stationary. The only life that could be seen were the men in uniform, and some few volunteers under the badge Local Level Task Force.
Apparels shops were closed, sports shops and hobby stores were shut. Parlour and spa remain closed. Essential commodities like grocery stores, hardware stores and Pharmacy shops were opened, though. Mankind should learn that there are certain things which support life; and there are certain things, without which you may feel a li’l uglier, but survive. Mankind should re-shuffle his priority list.
Ugliness should not be a concern, because wearing a face mask is mandatory. Mask protect you and others from the virus and also hide your ugly face; if you think you are ugly so, and vice versa.
The best thing about the pandemic is that mankind learn to respect others space. Avoidance of spatial interference is the law. Keeping oneself away from the multitude is the key.
This is lockdown, and the cars are few, the best method known so far, to control the abrupt community spreading of the SARS-CoV-2.
What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?
For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. (Psalm 8:4-5 KJV)
When it is in the living cell, it is living; and is not a living, when inside the dead cell. Uncertainty is its nature. The SARS-CoV-2 amplify its uncertainty and mankind is in agony. The fear, the panic, the idiotic syndrome and the unknown are haunting the sapiens. The pandemic confounded the superior sapiens, while the disinfomedic entrapped the idiot. But the worst of all is that the pandemic and the disinfodemic happened at the same time.
Sometimes the past haunt the sapiens. Many a times, things which are new to him, things which are uncertain often trembled him. The learned are cautious, the idiots chased and the commoner overreact. The RAT often lies, but the RT-PCR reveals. It is certain that an uncertain virus had made him uncertain, yet again.
Mankind is a hypocrite. Homo sapiens claimed himself to be the most intelligent of all creations. Intelligent might he be, there are certain things he knows not. What he doesn’t know often made him afraid, panic and secure! When things become uncertain, only then he realized he is just a human, a carbon based life forms having the will to believe or not to.
Human, like all other life form is just a mortal; having a genetic similarity of ~95% with other carbon based life forms. His devotion to God is the only thing that makes humankind unique. The only thing that is certain is that day by day he is nearing to his dead.
experience of a tide was in 2009, at the Marina beach. It was a low tide,
friendly enough not to cast us away. Since it was my first, I was thrilled. But
the taste of the sea water was much more alkaline than I’ve anticipated. If
diluted by 70%, it would be just right for a behlawi bai, no salts would be required, I thought. The tide that I
experienced that day swayed me the whole evening.
I was with the Mizoram Synod Choir who were on pilgrimage in Wales, April 2019. In Wales, I was experiencing another thriller. The tide there in Wales shook me through my limb nodes; it shook my flesh and my spirit. During the tour, we performed at ten Churches and several other venues. We even participated at the International Choir Festival, where we beg the first position in the Open Category and won the Silver Award.
The last week of our tour was confined to Tenby, a beautiful sea side town in Southwest Wales. We camped at a Caravan, which was again my first experience. It was here, that I had experienced yet another tide. We were among the few non-Welsh speaking that attended the Llanw festival, a festival to celebrate the resurrection of Christ, organized by the Christian Communities in Wales; it was on Llanw 2019, the 12th Version, that we participated.
Believers from all across the Wales flock together to celebrate the ressurection of Christ and deepen their relationship with the Living God. The programmes were in Welsh. A team of interpreter translated it to English, which make us understand what was said. The whole event was more or less like a Gospel/Salvation Camping or perhaps, a retreat that Churches out here often organised.
The tide that I had had experienced before were natural phenomenon. The moon had a deep impact on them; the tide is high during full moon, they said. And the tide, even though it looks thrilling, was kinda scary. Especially when it washed you off your feet…the fear of being drifted away caught you instantly.
But the tide, there in Wales, last year (2019), was totally unique. You don’t need to be a swimmer nor a surfer, the fear of being drifted would seldom caught you. All you have to do was to sit there, listen and witness what was going on. Keeping your mind free from the world outside, focusing on the thing that was happening. Once you did that, you shall feel the great tide, the tide that binds shall bound you. The tide had such a power that it didn’t washed you away, but it casted you to a firmer pedestal, where you can stand stronger. The tide also had the potential to keep you off your seat! Make you stand, instead. Keep you on your feet and open your arms to surrender or to exalt.
There at the Llanw, you can feel the power of silence; a silent conversation between God and his creation!
“…no sound is heard from them”
Psalms 19:3b (NIV)
You may not hear the sound, but you would surely feel the conversation. If you couldn’t feel the power of silence, frown not. The hymns and the choruses would slay you. When praise and exaltation were lifted up, the presence of the holy spirit could be felt, even for the dumbest like me. The sermons would nourish your hungry souls. Because the tide, there, was not of natural phenomenon, but was super-natural. It was from God.
Llanw is Welsh for tide.
We Mizo’s often labelled the Welsh people with the Gospel, and regarded them as our spiritual root. The contributions of the Welsh Missionary Society to the highlanders were immense. The impact they had on our socio-cultural life is massive. But in recent years, we often heard the news about the decline of Christianity in Wales, which worried us. As we prepared for our pilgrimage there, I had a speculation that the Christianity there would be weak and the believers there would also be less spiritual.
But I was wrong. Their numbers might be less, but the degree of their dedication, I had witness, was so strong that it makes my eyes wet. Their faith and their hope in Christ was so rigid that it pierced right through my heart. Their longing for revival and their cry for the holy spirit were another heart-piercing deed. It is very rare to see such a powerful, bold and dedicated prayers.
Their thankful heart to God is their asset. The way they cherished the Gospel is immeasurable. I have a strong belief that their cries would awaken God, the Master, and He would answer their prayers and once again let their country be covered by a Llanw and flood their Country with the Holy spirit; this is my prayer.
Diolch i Ti, yr Hollalluog Dduw Am yr Efengyl Sanctaidd. Haleliwia, Amen.
Thanks to Thee, the Almighty God For the Holy Gospel. Hallelujah, Amen.
Aw Pathian, Nangman Chanchin Ṭha min pe, Lawmthu kan hrilh che – A zarah Halleluia! Amen.
September, ten years ago, we were assigned to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment of the proposed Indo-Bangla Border Road Fencing which transect through the Dampa Tiger Reserve (DTR). After a month preparation, we packed our gears and head to Teirei Rest House. Our team comprised of our PI, Mr Laltlanhlua Zathang, ACF, Mr. B. Malsawmkima (B-a), Ms Laldinthari (Madini) and I. At Teirei, we were joined by Wildlife Guards of the Teirei Range.
We were divided into three groups, I was the leader of team 1, who stationed at Sailui. Both team 2 and 3 were stationed at Andermanik Anti-Poaching Camp, they were led by Mr B-a and Ms Madini, respectively. Our mission was to conduct a vegetation analysis along the proposed transect of the Indo-Bangla Border Road fencing.
From Rajiv Nagar, we rode a motor-boat till the Sailui Junction, where my team would camped, the other teams sailed till the Andermanik village. We fortunately spotted a Jhum hut, which relieved us from constructing a shelter. We stayed at Sailui for two nights; we cooked our own food, slept on our own beddings, hence, we didn’t bother our host, the owner of the jhum hut 😁. Our camping site was outside the DTR core area, hence anthropological activities were not prohibited.
Andermanik Village ~14 Km from Sailui was, however, within the core area and was about to be relocated, negotiations were going on, then. After completing our task along the Sailui-Andermanik transect, we decided to join our friends at the Andermanik Anti-Poaching camp. Instead of taking the normal path, we decided to walk down the Gundasuri stream, that drains to the Khawthlang tuipui. Our porter, whom I fondly called “Bondu” led the way, he cut the bushes and cleared the path. As we move down the stream, I could spot several pug-marks. Undoubtedly it was one of the natural wildlife corridor. The plan was to reach Andermanik by means of a raft.
Bondu was the engineer, Pu Samuel-a and Mapuia helped him in collecting the bamboo. I could overheared them saying “rawṭhing chu sât suh, a láng ṭha duhlo…” After completion, we tried once, and found that the raft could not bear our weight, we need to cut more bamboos. During the process, a gentleman from Andermanik was solo-rafting, without much belongings. We hitchhiked him; I rode on his raft, and the other three rode on the raft that we built. After 2 hours of rafting along the Khawthlang tuipui, we finally landed at Andermanik, it was already dark.
We stayed at Andermanik for a night and the next day, we left for Rajiv Nagar, by foot. It took us around 4 hrs to cover ~ 16.41 Km of steep and slippery paths, up and down the gorges. Knowing the consequences and the biodiversity threats that was awaiting, we proposed that if at all the border had to be fenced, it should be done at the zero boundary, not even an inch inside the Tiger Reserve. Wildlife corridors should be reserved as plenty and wide as possible. We did the best we could. After all it was our first assignment since leaving the university, two months back! When we were approached for this project, our result was not even declared! But we were energetic and dedicated, we were satisfied with our efforts, since we gave our best.
Inside the Andermanik, the Village that fragmented
Prior to its relocation, Andermanik was the only village inside the core area of the DTR. There were 200 houses, 3 primary schools, six grocery shops and a BSF Duty post. Like other Chakma community, their main religion was Buddhism and solely dependent on Jhumming for their sustenance.
We tried our best not to imposed habitat fragmentation, but it was beyond our power whether the fencing should or should not be constructed. We were told, “It’s a matter of national security.” Though the Andermanik Village that fragmented the reserve was relocated, how would a fencing and a motorable patrolling path not fragmented the Tiger Reserve?
Music has something to do with everyone. Either they
love it or annoyed at it. For some, music is life, for some it ain’t no music
at all, it is just a sound, rather a noise. For me, music is something which I
love to play, love to listen and love to talk about it, but not write about; it
is a thing that must be felt.
I am among the generation when the traditional music
and the contemporary music were at war; when rock music was pit against gospel
music. This had left many music lovers in jeopardy. What makes music a Gospel
music? What makes it a secular music? Is it the genre or the tune? Is it the
words or the person writing it? There are many un-solved questions.
Looking back at the Christian Youth Events with
reference to the North East context, we can clearly see the dynamism of music.
The praise and worship services in all those PYF and NEICCYA programmes had
undergone lots of transformation. Few years back, traditional hymnals form the
major part of the hymn books, and so was, in the praise and worship services.
However, since the revival centenary (2006), in most of the services
contemporary hymnals and choruses were seemed to be preferred more.
Why do we shift towards a contemporary worship
service? Since, when? What might be the factors? Recollecting my college days
and my experiences in the PYF and the NEICCYA, I have developed a hypothesis trying
to address those queries.
In the pre-revival centennial era, we often sang, as a
choir, in certain Khasi and Jaintia Presbyterian Churches, usually on Youth
Sunday and Music festivals. The praise and worship songs were mostly
traditional hymns and choruses. It was the same trend in the case of the Mizo Presbyterian
Churches. However, in recent years, especially after I actively take part in
the NEICCYA and the PYF, I had witnessed a drift towards contemporary hymns and
choruses in these events. Apart from the hymns, the worship services also
gradually shift towards a more congregational style of worshipping.
Meghalaya being the provenance of Presbyterianism in
the North East, the Churches had well maintained their traditions and
practices. The revival in 2006, I believed was the turning point, to a bit of
contemporary style of worship. Shillong, being an eductation hub, have been harbouring
students, of all faiths, of all denominations, from all over the region. Congregational
Churches, with their style of contemporary worshipping are attractive to youths,
much more than the traditional mainland Churches. This had a deep impact toward
the shift to a contemporary worship. The contemporary worship movement has
equally been ignited by the advent of multimedia.
This had led to the formation of praise group and
worship team, equipped with musical instruments of non-traditional scales. Even
in the PCI General Assembly in 2016, the praise and worship services were led
by the worship team, which included a band of musicians and singers;
Congregational singing during the worship service was traditional, though. But
in the 2018 General Assembly, there were no praise and worship group as such.
On the other hand, the PYF and the NEICCYA programmes continued to have a team,
leading the praise and worship services, singing contemporary gospel songs.
The shift towards contemporary and congregational form
of worshipping has led to applauding by clapping of hands, even during the
worship services. Which, as far as I could recollect, was not the trend in the
pre-revival centennial era. Especially in the Mizoram Synod, applauding the
choirs or special items during the worship service by clapping of hands is
still not practiced, and had often kept the youths from other Synod in an
awkward position. However, clapping of hands in par with the rhythm of the
songs during congregational singing is very much
appreciated in the Mizo Churches. To be noted, in the PYF programmes, half an
hour of songs of praises session is
always included. I find the terminology a bit absurd. Is it not a session of
singing, but not a session for listening songs?
Music for a
Music is dynamic. It cannot be the same all the time.
Genre and style keeps on changing, they have their own period. Like the old
leaves are replaced by the new leaves, a new style repeatedly replaces the old
styles. However, the most important thing is the heart of the worshipper.
Sometimes, a loud sound draws our attention, but sometimes, a complete silence draws
our heart. In an attempt to be traditional we can hamper the development of the
Church; on the other hand, chasing all the newbies can be detrimental for the
Church. We have to know the limit.
When talking about traditional and contemporary music,
many often quotes Cliff Richard’s “Why should the devil have all the good
Another question arises out of this quote – what is
Is there a criterion to quantify the goodness or the
badness of music? Or is there any equipment to examine the degree of goodness
or badness? A debate on this topic will never end. But in the light of
Christianity, we have an answer. Gospel music is good music, simple as that. To
rectify this, we may need to talk about the psychological and spiritual impact
it has, on the performer as well as the listener.
The goodness of Music doesn’t aptly depend on the tune
or the scale, but on the collective characteristics of the song viz the tune,
the words, the writer and the theology it contained. Good music is like a
beautiful flower, whose beauty draw the attention of the pollinators; their
sweet fragrance attracts the pollinators closer, and their nectar nourishes the
pollinators. Through their action, singers draw the attention of the
spectators, the tune of their music attracts them closer, the words of their
songs feed the audience. While the pollinator gets nourished by the flower, it
in turn helped in the reproduction of the flower. Likewise, a good music
nourished the audience spiritually and the spirituality of the audience is the
key to produce good music. There has to be a mutual relationship between music
and audience. Some music are very attractive, draw lots of audience, but unable
to nourish the audience. The main purpose of Gospel Music is to exalt God and
inturn, nourished the audience and the performer. A gospel music without
nourishment is like eating a cotton candy, appealing but void of nourishment,
the crave for food remains the same.
How about the song writer? I firmly agreed that nobody
is perfect. However, in music ministry, we have to be very careful in the songs
that we select. We have to consider the context of the song, how was it
written, what is the philosophy of the song writer (it can be known from his
other works), and should also be analysed doctrinally. For instance, there are
several songs which contain the holy word “Hallelujah” but all that
contains “hallelujah” are not gospel music. All that glitters are not gold.
Be it classical, traditional or contemporary, be it
western or eastern. Be it rock music or jazz music or may be grunge music, the
most important thing is the message that it contains. Based on the platform
where we manifest through music, we have to choose which type of music to
perform and which not to. A good tune may ecstasies, but if the words are
equally not prophetic, then it would be futile.
A prophetic word but worst tune is hardly appealing. Hence, it has to
complement each other. After all, worship is all about Jesus, not about us, and
not about music. But music can lead us into the heart of worship, and hence we
require a music which draw us to worship God in truth and in spirit.
Let me wind up with a song from one of the most spiritual contemporary artist, MichaelW Smith.
When the music fades, all is stripped away And I simply come, longing just to bring
Something that’s of worth, that will bless Your heart
I’ll bring You more than a song, For a song in itself is not what You have required You search much deeper within Through the way things appear You’re looking into my heart…
[This article was published in a book titled “Ministering to the Youth: Challenges for the Church” by the Presbyterian Youth Fellowship, 2019]
I still remember the day I first saw her, and the dress that she wore that day, a decade ago. Since then, we were friends, till today and forever it will be. Our bond, our love, our mutualism has been made stronger with a vow before God “to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer; in sickness and health, to love and cherish, till death do us part .”
As per the Mizo tradition, the whole wedding process requires certain protocol. Both the families have to negotiate, prior permission from the Church Court Committee has to be acquired, the availability of the Minister (Pastor) is also a must. Passing through all these ain’t not the toughest, for me, to confess to my parent that “I am ready…” was.
The day was fixed, arrangements were made, we were excited. Being a photography hobbyist, many a times I had covered wedding here and there, even though I am not the best in the business, I am very peculiar in my choices. I normally don’t like a prep-up shot nor a clinical pose. But I prefer an impromptu, a candid, the moments, which portray the real us or them. In fact, that is one of the reason why I gave up commercial assignments like wedding photography, where clients mostly prefer glamorous pictures. I request Zualtea to cover our wedding, which he graciously accepted. He did a wonderful job… no prep-up, everything was candid, and he was always in the moment. By looking at each pictures, I still have the same feelings.
Feb. 8, 2018 will always be cherished, for it was on that day that Becky and I became one. To commemorate our first anniversary, here are some pictures, a photo story of our wedding.
Without families and friends, we are nothing. It is divine to have such a lovely family and a supporting friends. Our Wedding was a perfection because of all the well wishers, families, friends, the Choirs and especially the bridesmaid, Am-i and the best man, Aduha.
I am more comfortable behind the camera than in front; neither was she. Yes we love the portrait session because we laughed heartily. We were not a great poser, but we don’t fake! We just love being ourselves…these are us, nothing more, nothing less.
Tomorrow morning if you wake up, And the sun does not appear I, I will be here.
If in the dark we lose sight of love, Hold my hand, have no fear Cause I, I will be here
I will be here when you feel like being quiet When you need to speak your mind, I will listen and I will be here when the laughter turns to cryin’ Through the winning, losing and tryin’ We’ll be together ’cause I will be here.
Tomorrow morning if you wake up, And the future is unclear I I will be here As sure as seasons are made for change, Our lifetime’s are made for years So, I, I will be here
I will be here and so you can cry on my shoulder, When the mirror tells us we’re older, I will hold you and I will be here to watch you grow in beauty And tell you all the things you meant to me I will be here
I will be true to the promise I have made To you and to the One who gave you to me I will be here
And just as sure as seasons are made for change Our lifetime’s are made for years So, I I will be here we’ll be together.
It was Dec. 5th, 2012 05:30 a.m., I was awakened by the most irritating tone of all…an alarm! Waking up at such an hour in a winter morning was not in my routine, if not for a very special occasion. The previous night, I packed my backpacks, keeping everything ready for an early morning Royal ride. As usual, camera, tripod, gps, ors, chocolate, country made knife, torch, a puan-nuam embedded in a sleeping bag etc. were in my bag. Since it was winter, no insect repellent cream was required. Tent was with B-a.
Firing my ride, I head on to our RV at Ngaizel. My friend B-a, with whom I’ll be traveling was from the West end of the city while I’m from the East end, and we’re heading south. B-a soon arrived. Filling up our fuel, we move ahead towards our destination. The plan was to reach Sangau as early as possible; which is around 230 Km from Aizawl. We took the World Bank road, and at Chalkhan we take a left turn towards Serchhip. At Sailiamkawn, my partner was stopped by the Assam Rifle Jawans. He was also equipped with knife, camera, gps and other gadgets, may be those looks suspicious. After a while he joined me again. I don’t know why was I not stopped! After having our meal at Keitum, we continued. It was almost 02:00 p.m. when we reached the Tuipui D, where we had to wait for our Royal Enfield to be ferried accross the Chhimtuipui by a mar-boat.
The mar-boat service there had a special guidelines that made us to wait until two LMV arrived.
The mar-boat service here at Tuipui D is the life-line of the South-Eastern Mizoram. The service is operated by the BRTF, 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily except on Sunday. A pedestrian suspension bridge across the river was the only other option available, then.
During monsoon, when mar-boat service is not available, passengers transit, walking across the suspension bridge, catching another vehicle on the other side.
After waiting for a while, finally the mar-boat landed. We loaded our bobber, waiting for others to turn up. In less than 2 minutes, we were ferried across.
The areas around the Tuipui D pier had been protected by the Villagers; as we transverse the river, a school of fish swum around the boat. It was so fascinating that I forgot to click a picture of them fishes!
From Tuipui D, The road to Sangau was mostly on the eastern slope of the hillocks, which make it kinda chilly. The moment when we were on the sunnier side, we have to stopped by, exposed and warm up ourselves. After reaching South Vanlaiphai, a Village next to Darzo, the sun was almost setting. The road was re-surfaced, which left lots of pebbles and made it difficult to ride swiftly. When we arrived at Sangau, it was already dark. We headed straight to our host, who was the relative of my partner.
Sangau to Phawngpui
The next morning i.e., Dec. 6, 2012, we continued our journey, driving towards Farpak, the last point where a vehicle could reach. Since my partner had a permission from the CWW, to conduct his research at Phawngpui, we very oftenly had a field work there, hence, the workers were also familiar with us.
Ascending ~ 500m with a Royal bobber was one hell of an experience. It was a fair weather road. That was not the hurdle, though. But the steepness was. From Thaltlang to Farpak, it was not more than 6 Km. Had we measure the slope percentage, it would definitely be 100% and above.
Finally, we arrived at the Farpak, we parked our bobber at the Old Rest House. We filled our gallon and bottles with water, gearing up for another 7Km uphill trek. The elevation at Farpak was ~1900m and our destination, the peak, was 2157m msl. Since it was not our first time, we were well aware of the patrolling path.
Since there was no water-bodies near the peak, we had to carry maximum amount of water, and that put on another weight. On the way to the peak, sometimes, you have to crawl beneath the clumps of Schizostachyum fuchsianum. And sometimes, through the tall and thick grasses.
It took us 3½ hrs to reach the peak. Setting up the tent and igniting a fire were the first priorities. After which, we started our work.
I was accompanying my Phenologist friend. The main purpose of the trip was phenology. My comrade, B-a, how we call him, was pursuing his doctoral research on the phenological aspects of Rhodondendron vernacularly termed as “Chhawkhlei” in Mizo. Phawngpui National Park (PNP) is one of the few places where Rhododendron grows in the wild, here in Mizoram. Apart from PNP, it is also found at Tualcheng, Champhai, Ţan tlang, Lurh tlang, Farkawn and East Khankawn. The genus is confined in the Eastern highlands of the state.
Even though I often accompanied him on his field work, I have very limited knowldege of phenological sciences. What we usually did, as I could recollect, was covering the buds of a Rhododendron with a net, so as to manipulate its pollination; In a pixelated terminology, they might termed it hacking the pollination 😁. Most of the time, I was his photographer and his personal body guard. He was better in cooking, hence he cooked, while I’m better in chopping and splitting fuel woods, which I did. Like wise, we assisted each other.
There were at least three different species of Rhodendron at PNP. As far as my understanding is concerned, these species grows in a very specific ecosystem. Survival rate and regeneration rate is also very low. Dormancy also is long. Wildfires often threatened its survival.
Phawngpui National Park (PNP) is one of the 10 protected areas, and one of the two National Parks of Mizoram, it covers an area of 50 Km². Entry is permitted after paying necessary fees. However, collection of specimen, cutting of plants, killing, snaring and catching of wild animals are strictly prohibited. For research purpose, permission has to be acquired from EF&CC, GoM. Entering the Park without a guide is also prohibited.
We were done! We’re homeward bound. Trekking downhill and riding downhill were equally uncomfortable. As long as the wheel rotate, it was fine, but there were moments when the wheel could not rotate but slide on the pebbles. After carefully riding downhill, we finally managed to reach Thaltlang. We halt a night at Sangau; the next morning we continue our journey back home.
At Tuipui D, it was the same ol’ story, waiting for the mar boat and two other LMV. But this time, it was an HMV that turned up.