Defragmenting The Dampa Tiger Reserve: The Andermanik Frontier

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.

Fully packed motor-boat, in the middle is our boss, Pu Tlana. The availability of the motor-boat service in this region depended upon the level of water in the Khawthlang tuipui.

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.

Mr. B-a and Ms. Madini

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.

Ms Madini and the bridge on the River Khawthlang Tuipui

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.

In the midst of the Jungle, we encountered these jubilant kids, they swam the whole afternoon. @Sailui
Our host at Sailui
Our team and the kids in the Jungle @Sailui
Our host winnowing the paddy. While her husband was working elsewhere, she was looking after their Jhum field and their kids.
Suron, the obedient boy @Sailui. He was always ready to strike a pose 😀
Suron…among the ripened paddy
My Team at rest…Somewhere between the Sailui and the Andermanik Village
My Men…at the mouth of the Gundasuri stream that we transect
Busy Bondu, the engineer, constructing a bamboo 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.

A gentleman from Andermanik, whom we hitchhiked
Captain Bondu and crew…rafting the Khawthlang tuipui
My captain! He was swiftly paddling the raft. The bamboo culm he hold would not be shorter than 18 ft, which he frequently dipped, as if he was trying to measure the depth of the river. He didn’t realised that his dipping and retracting of the bamboo-paddle horrified his mate, who couldn’t swim! And that dipping and retracting told how deep the river was!
After a few hours, he suddenly shouted, “Gui…gui” which left me confused. Later on, I realised that he was spotting a Tuipuisatang (Water Monitor Lizard – Varanus salvator) at a distant shore! To him, it was a nutrition that perish!
A Selfie! lewll
It was dark, when we arrived at Andermanik. These two youths left, as we landed.
Inside the Anti-Poaching Camp, Andermanik…Bondu, Tlangaupa and Pu Muankima.
They were all surprised to see us at the camp. Since there was no mobile phone signals, and we were also void of radio, we couldn’t inform them.
Reuniting with my comrade @Andermanik

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.

A Chakma family
It was very rare to see people fetching water with a plastic container in this part of the land.
The Chakma way of fetching water
A motherly care
The Andermanik playground
Public urinal… It is a common thing in Mizoram
Mother and Child…and a cat
Power supply was not available. Some villagers harnessed the solar energy and watched a television.
A busy mother at work
Harvesting the Nawinâwk (Basella alba) leaves. They gave us some few, tried and tested, excess amount of Dangpuithu (Sidol) spoil the menu.
Communication was a problem. Since they could speak their own dialect only.
A country made daba smoker
“Pinon” in the making
A Chakma boy wearing a traditional Teng-chara
Protector of the Forest…Strike Forces and Wildlife Guards…and Bondu, my friend.
A view from the Anti-Poaching camp. In 2012, I met Pu Samuela, and he told me that Andermanik Village was relocated and those places like this were transformed into a playground of the fauna, the floral community dominated the landscape and transformed into a fawning and a stotting place for the quadrupeds.
Us

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?

[Powered by Canon 1000D with 18 – 55mm IS USM]

On the Top of Mizoram: A Royal Ascend

‎Aizawl to Sangau

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.

At the Tuipui D pier, waiting for the mar-boat

The mar-boat service there had a special guidelines that made us to wait until two LMV arrived.

Vehicles were ferried by a mar-boat

Suspension Bridge for pedestrian

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.

Finally we hop on, another vehicles joined us

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.

Ticket Counter at Thaltlang

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.

At the entrance of the core area of the Phawngpui National Park

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.

A narrow path, midway across Farpak to Phawngpui peak

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.

Rest to regain 😀

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.

Our camp at the summit

A night at the peak

An early morning portrait 😁

A view from the peak: Siachangkawn Village in the mid-bottom; Lungtian Village at the rigth extreme corner. Siaha town flooded by a mist.

On the top of Mizoram

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.

Manipulating the polination of a Rhododendron vaechiatinum

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.

Bud of R. arborea

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.

PNP

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.

Fading glory … A dry Saiburh flower…one of the most common herb at Farpak.

Two Royals at Farpak

Homeward bound

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.

Homeward bound

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.

A Royal pose at the Mar boat on our way back.

After an intensive research work for years, the Mizoram University finally awarded him a Doctorate degree. You can reach him here https://www.facebook.com/malsawm.kima.7

of Mud and Clay

Pedology is a part of an ecological science that deals with the study of soil. In which, determination of soil texture is an important part. Silt, Clay and loam are the three important particles of soil texture. Their concentration in the soil determines the texture and physical quality of a soil. These are some few lines that I could remember from my formal education about clay and other forms of soils.

There can be no other grand welcome for a bambusapiens than a clump of Bambusa spp. at the backyard of the studio

For me, soil is a growth medium. Soil is an anchor. But to many, soil is not just a growth medium nor just an anchor. It is a medium for their expressions.

Mr. Bhim, a traditional potter at work

Everyone knows about pottery. Normally we get our Porcelain and ceramic products from the Mandarin source. And of course, they are normally meant for domestic uses. Hence, pottery, to me, was more of a functional works, than artistry, until I met this couple in Aug. 4, 2017.

An earthen staircase

Being an art follower, my artist friends – John and Kimtea, a Kala Bhavana Alumni along with Thara, took me to Goalpara, a village next to Santiniketan. While returning, we went to the studio of this couple. Their studio and their house were a creation, skillfully crafted, and artistically conceptualized. It would be every artists dream to have such a studio!

Biagio Luca from Italy was training at the studio when we first visited in Aug. 4, 2017. (L-R: Luca, Kimtea, Thara, John and Bityut)

I have been studying, teaching and researching on ecology for quite a few years now. I campaigned for ecological conservation among the teenagers. I used to talk about living in harmony with nature. I used to enjoy camping in the wild, among the bushes and the trees. But never ever have been connected with nature as much as I wished to.

A house of mud and clay, the studio of Mr and Mrs Roy

Here at Boner Pukur Danga, Santiniketan, I met two artist, whom mother nature matched them together perfectly. They draw their inspirations from nature – the trees, the bushes, the grasses and the socio-cultural lifes of the Santhali community. Even though they could easily get their medium through online market, they prefer the materials which nature provided them. They dug the soil, and prepare their medium themselves.

A ceramic studio constructed by using ceramic and producing ceramics

For a 3dimensional art works like ceramics, shapes and forms are the two important elements, in fact the whole concept is influenced by these two elements. Being a nature lover, Bityut and Lipi’s inspirations of forms and figures which they incorporate in their art works are from nature itself.

Nature…

When asked why they live in such an isolated place, “I love the culture, traditions and the lifestyle of the Santhali community. If I lived in their village, I would distract them, so I choose a place where I could see them, where I could witnessed their simple yet riched lifestyle; a place near by them, without disturbing them” Mr. Bityut Roy replied.

Mr. Bityut Roy established the Studio in 1984.

“I am not a trained potter, but a painter. My interest and sources of inspiration is from the nature. My love for fine art and nature brought me here” said Mrs Lippi Biswas.

Mrs Lipi Biswas

Bityut and Lipi tie a knot in 1995. Since then, they have been in this field together. They enjoy what nature had provided them. For them, conservation is a lifestyle.

The entrance of the studio

As you walk into the studio, you can feel the swaying of the trees, the melody of the swirling leaves. It seems like a transect walk in a tropical forest, amidst the fog and the mist, accompanied by a drizzle to turn the mercury down.

Nature being fossilized into art work

You can hear the rippling streams. You can feel the chirping birds that are perching around, the croaking of a toad and the aroma of wild flowers blown by the cool breeze. At one corner, you can hear the rhythm of a Santhali percussion and the melodious tune of the womenfolks. It feels like we are more connected with mother nature.

Mr Jubal, a ceramic artist seriously analyzing the art works

For those of you who love nature and fine art, it is a must to visit the ‘Studio Boner Pukur Danga,’ but you have to be extremely careful not to break those fossils of nature embedded in an art work. And of course, buy from them!

The studio itself is an art work!

My second visit was on May 30, 2018. This time, I was accompanied by my lovely wife Rebecca and Mr. Jubal, a ceramic artist from Kala Bhavana. My wife was so much drawn into those art pieces that she was reluctant to leave!

Tea and snacks, in a ceramic cups and plate

You can reach them here:

Call: +919679984008 (Lipi Biswas)

via e-resources: marangburu@yahoo.com; studiobonerpukurdanga; studiobonerpukrudanga

My wife, holding the art piece that we purchased, posed with Mrs Lipi

 

Panah Express: A Zenfone story

Very often, I have seen Myanmar. Mostly from the hills near the Indo- Myanmar border. But never have I crossed the border and set my feet on. The name Myanmar itself is mysterious. The country has lots of connection with the history of our fore-fathers. Our language is grouped under the Tibeto-Burman family. Our speculations about Myanmar on the other hand,  has been influenced by media reports, which are hardly the brighter side. Nothing was clear until you set you’re foot upon it.

Reverie

Reverie: A rendition of my speculations about Myanmar.

Myanmar, the land of the golden pagoda, has undergone several transformation. The moment I set my foot on Yangon, I can feel that those speculations were negative.

A volunteer named Silas and Eliezer received me at the airport. Ar first, I thought Eliezer was a cab driver, his dress code was so similar to that of the cab drivers at the airport. He was wearing a ‘Longyi‘ and a panah.  Moreover, he doesn’t mention that he’s a pastor.

A panah

A panah, or a slipper in English, like all other South Asian countries is the most prevalent foot wears here in Yangon. And for a guy like me who often think that the invention of a panah, or a silipar or  vawthlep in Mizo, is one of the greatest invention, it makes me feel at home…hehe…

Cab driver at Yangon International Airport

The best thing about a panah is its ergonomy. It is easy to wear, easy to take off, easy to dry and easy to clean.

Panah Express

As you stand by the roadside, you can hear the sound of flip-flop there, a flip-flop here. The faster they walk, the pitch of the flip-flop increase.
Adjacent to the Minyekyawswar Street, there’s a narrow, yet busy street. Its dynamism is beyond words. They were so much engaged that a gentleman with a panah on his feet, wearing a sleeveless shirt and a short, with a zenfone3m on his hands, clicking random pictures also seems to remain unnoticed.

An old lady selling a badam on the road-side

The best thing about Yangon is the street food. For a guy like me, who loves a street food and a panah, it is Canaan.

Meat shop

Had they known that a panah express is passing through, these meat monger at the junction of narrow street bazaar would have pose themselves more proper.

A cycle rickshaw on duty

For a cycle-rickshaw driver, a panah is a must. There’s no other foot wear which has a better ergonomic!

panah of the driver, panah for the passenger and panah worn by the passer by

Its my first time to see a cycle-rickshaw with a pillion rider on its side! Reminds me of a WW II  Nazi bike with a side car.

Roadside butcher

For a butcher, a panah is more feasible than other foot wear, and so is, for the lady. The Longyi worn by the lady looks like a Mizo puanzeh, and of course it is complimented by her panah.

Floridale

What I have noticed during my short stay here is their love for flowers. I don’t know to which varieties do those flowers belong, but of course, they belonged to Asteraceae family (of corse all the lovely flowers belong there :D). Working in the flower garden is so much a comfort with a pair of panah on the feet.

Nuts and beans

These two ladies were in deep conversation, may be about the panah that I wear. But my flip-flop sound didn’t distract them, either.

A rehab

While all the others were busy with their chores, a young man who seek for inner peace was confessing to the bante. Had it been a pagoda or a gompa, they would have removed their panah.

News stand

As I detour towards my hotel, may be the flip-flop was audible. I was spotted! And it makes me realise that my panah doesn’t support a silent mode!

A revisit

Since it was raining, the fear of my sneaker getting wet was making me in a dilemma, “What if i stay in my room and starve…” Then comes the thought of wearing a black panah which the hotel provided us. It fits me broad feet. The flip-flop sound slightly differs with my own panah. The cushion and the grip are however much much better, pity my old cushion-less panah.

Plastic capping

A quick re-visit in the evening amidst the rain offered me another sneak peek.  This lovely little girl was playing in the puddle. She was wearing a plastic bag on her head, may be to avoid getting wet. But on her tiny feet was a pair of tiny panah, that resist water!

Blending yourself into the scene is very effective while performing a street photography. Sometimes, carrying a big camera (DSLR etc) is often distracting to the subject, which often left us unable to make pictures as desired. Cellphone camera have lots of limitations, but sometimes, people are less distracted and it gives more chance of getting an emotional pictures. Being a photographer doesn’t mean that you have to dress and equipped yourself with apparels specially designed for a photographer. Blending into the scene by dressing like the locals is often effective. When the story is more important than the picture quality, cellphone camera is the best option.

[All images are shot with Asus Zenfone3Max]

Peshawar Tlangval

A hming chu “Alexander Mehboob” a nia, Pakistan-a ram bial pakhat, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa  Ram bial huamchhung,  Peshawar-a khawsa a ni. Zirna lamah MA (Islamiyat) leh MA (International relation), M.Div a ni a. A pa hi zirtirtu a nia, a pu hi Pastor a ni thung, a pami te 2 hi pastor an ni bawk. A pa pu hi Sikh sakhua aţanga Kristiana inlet a ni a, hemi achinah hian an chhungkua hi rawngbawltu chhungkua an ni chho ta zel a ni.

Rev. Alexander Mehboob,  MA (Islamiyat), MA (IR), M.Div.

Tlangval harhvang tak, sa pan thler thlawr a ni a. Ka hmuh hmasak ber nia a chipui te Urdu ţawnga biaa, a teikual vel ruai kha mitthlaah a la cham reng mai. Kamis ţial leh kekawrtlawn ngalrek chen a haa, chappal a bun a, a kamis hi a benglut lem lo thung. A kamis kar aţangin a kekawr benga a key chain khai – Pakistan Flag lem chu a lang zauh zauh bawk a, eng thuamhnaw pawh inbel se he key chain hi a khai renga, a kawr awmah Pakistan flag anga siam lapel pin a bel reng bawk. A bak hmul a zuah kual a, a hmuihmulin a heh a khuh lek lek a, a ţawng karlakah a tuai chho leh lawk ţhin. A hmel en mai kha chuan khawilam ringthar nge maw niang le? Tih tur khawpa dawldang a ni a, he’ng laia Punjabi kan lo hmuh ţhin te nen chuan an sa chu inmuk hleih tak a ni.

Mahni inuluk tak a ni tih a hriat theih mai. Function pangngai chinah chuan puithiam kawr (clerical shirt) a haa, pheikhawk pum a bun ap reng bawk. Chutianga a inthuam aţang chuan Pastor a ni tih kan hriat theih phah ta hlauh bawk a. Zan khat chu Cultural Programme kan hmanga, mahni hnam inchei dan a inchei tur a ni a, hemi ţum hian kan Peshawar tlangval hi Kurta var suit hain a rawn inthuama, chumi chungah chuan kawrchung dum a la ha hrama. Tuifinriat kam ţiauphoa che velah chuan a la smart ber awm e.

Peshawar tlangval, St. Stephen Church kawtah

Alexander-a hian St. Albert’s College, Karachi aţanga BA a zawh hnuin, Peshawar University aţangin MA (Islamiyat) a zo leh a, Masters in International Relationship a zo bawk. St. Thomas Theological seminary, Karachi aţanga M.Div. a zawh hnuah Pastor atana nemngheh a ni a, kum 2013 aţangin Church of Pakistan hnuaia Faisalabad Diocese-ah Chaplain niin rawngbawl hna bul a ţana, kum 2017 aţangin Peshawar Diocese-a ţhalai rawngbawlna enkawltuah a ţang ta a ni. Pathianniah Pathian biak Inkhawm Urdu leh English Service an nei ţhin a, Zirtawp chhun dar 12-ah “Lalpa Zanriah Sakramen” an kila, tlai dar 5:30-ah “Damna inkhawm” an nei zui leh a, engemaw changin nilainiah inkhawm an nei ţhin bawk.

Pakistan Kristiante chungchang sawi dunin Fk-i nen

Pakistan Rama Kristianna dinhmun

Chanchinthar kan dawn tam zawk hi Pakistan rama Kristian te dinhmun chhiat zia leh an chep zia hlirin a awh khata. Ringthar thah thu te Biak In suasam tih te hi kan hriat lar a ni. Chanchinthar thehdarhtu te hian chanchin dik tak emaw a nihna tak tarlan emaw ai chuan a nih bak hret, mi te ngaihven tur zawngin an chhuah fo ţhin nia an sawi hi a tak tak emaw tih mai a awl ţhin. Pakistan-ah hian kum zabi 18 chhoah khan Kristianna hi a lut tawha; Bristish sipai te leh Missionary ten Kohhran an lo phun daih tawh a ni.

Rev. Alexander Mehboob, Youth Coordinator, Peshawar Diocese, Church of Pakistan

Pakistan hi Islam dana inkaihhruaina ram a nih avangin sakhaw dang te tan hmalak erawh a har hle. An ram danah sakhaw danga inleh hi khap bur a ni a, chutih rual chuan sakhaw dang aţanga Islam-a an inleh erawh chuan harsatna engmah an tawk ngailo thung. Islam sakhaw  vuantu Kristianah emaw, sakhaw dangah emaw inpe ta se, sorkara a inziahluh tirha a inziahluh dan kha Muslim a nih si chuan a sakhua kha sorkarin a thlak sak duh ta ţhin lo a ni. Tin, hetiang boruak a thlen hian han rikhluai chang an neih ţhin a, Kristian ten a pawng a puia tihduhdahna an tawrh loh thu leh an chunga hleilenna a nazawngin a thleng lo niin Peshawar tlangval hian a sawi bawk.

“Kristian te chu an taimaa, an rinawma, hna an thiam bawk” tih hi Pakistan rama ringlo mi ten Kristian te an hmuh dan a ni.

Pakistan Kristian ţhalaite

Pakistan rama ringtu te aw ka ngei aţanga an ţhalaite dinhmun leh ningkhawng han dawnsawn chu ngaihthlak a nuamin rilru a khawih teh e! Rawngbawl dan chi hrang hrang an neia, chung zinga danglam tak chu “Inter-Faith Youth Camp” (Sakhaw hrang hrang ţhalaite intawhkhawm) kha a ni. Kar khat chhung teh meuh sakhaw hrang hrang ţhalaiten intawhkhawm hun an hmang ţhina, chumi chhung chuan thil chi hrang hrang an zirho a, nunphung te, eizawnna kawng lam inkawhhmuhna leh inpumkhatna lam thu te an zir ber a, themthiamna kawnga hma an sawn theih dan tur te pawh an zir ţhin bawk. He programme hi Church of Pakistan buatsaih a ni.

Pakistan rama Kristian te chanchin khunkhan takin kan sawiho

Tunlaina boruak hrang hrangin a chimbuai ve reng bawk. Kristian ţhalai an in hlohna tam ber chu nupui pasal inneih vang niin an sawi bawk. Kristian tlangval tan Islam nula neih chu a theihloh tluk a ni a, an inneih dawn chuan tlangvalin a Kristianna bansana Islam a zawm emaw a nih loh chuan buaina nasa tak an tawk mai ţhin. Chutihrual chuan Kristian nula leh Islam tlangval inkarah erawh harsatna a awm lem lo, nula kha Islam-a a inpek mai avangin! Islam tlangval leh Kristian nula inngaizawng sawi tur an tama, nula ten an Kristianna an phatsan zel bawk si avangin Kristian te tan chuan channa nasa tak a ni a, Pakistan rama Kristian ţhalai hruaitu te rilru tihahtu lian tak a ni.

Training chung zawnga zawhna ngah ber a ni hial awm e!

Ruihhlo avanga harsatna erawh an tawk lem lo. Islama dana rorelna a nih avangin drug leh ruihhlo dang a zalenloa, ţhalai zingah ruihhlo ngai an awm meuh lo.

Kristian ţhalai nge nge

Eizawnna leh hna zawnna lamah sakhaw dang te aţangin harsatna leh enhranna emaw an tawk ve lem lo. Chuti a hnehin Peshawar leh Hyderabad bawr vela Sawrkar leh mimal hna thawk tur erawh chuan Kristian ţhalai an duh ber lawi tlat si hi thil chhinchiah tlak tak a ni. “Kristian te chu an taimaa, an rinawma, hna an thiam bawk” tih hi Pakistan rama ringlo mi ten Kristian te an hmuh dan a ni. Keini ramah erawh “Kohhrana inhmang lo…” tih te hi hna siamtu te tehkhawng a ni lawia. KŢP ten inenfiah nan i hmang ang u. Pakistan Kristian ţhalaite ang hian KŢP-a active tak te hi hnathawk tura min duh zawk theih nan theihtawp kan chhuah a ţul hle mai.

India, Pakistan, England leh Sri Lanka palai te nen

Rev. Alexander Mehboob

Peshawar Tlangval, Rev. Alexader Mehboob nen hian SACYN Leaders Training 2017, Negombo-a intawng kan ni a, Hindi-in a ţawng emaw ka tia, ka Hindi thiam ang angin ka biaa, anin Urdu-in ka bia emaw min lo ti ve thunga, “Urdu i thiam a ni maw” min ti awllo, thui erawh kan inbe thei lem hlei lo a, Hindi thiamin a tlin miau si loh chuan. Sapţawng pangngai takin a ţawng thei a, a aw phawi pawh India rama Hindi hmang ho aw phawi ang tho a nih avangin hriat a harsa lo. Kan chamho chhung zawnga a ţawngkam hmasa ber chu “inchungah thlamuanna awm rawh se” tih hi a ni. Traning-a tel ve, nula ho ten fiam tehah an neih a, thla te an lakpuia, an han lem fem vel ţhina, ani mi kulmuk chi tih takah a hnar nasa thei hle. Chumi hmu chak chuan a aia uar sauhin an han fiam ta ţhina, a ţang nasa ţhin khawp mai.

Nepal leh Myanmar palai te nen

Tlangval hawihhawm leh bengvar tak a ni a, kan haw tur pawh min thlah thlap nghe nghe a. Training chhung zawnga zawhna ngah ber a ni ta hial awm e. Peshawar Diocese ţhalai te zinga rawngbawltu pawimawh tak, an khaipa – coordinator a ni a. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province chhunga Kristian \halaiten kawng hrang hranga hma an sawn theih dan tur ngaihtuahin Peshawar Diocese hian hma an la a, sakhaw dang ţhalaite nen pawh thawhhona ţha tak neiiin, innghirngho lovin, chak tak siin rawngbawl hna a kalpui mek a ni. SACYN Leaders Training-ah hian Pakistan aţangin mi 3 an rawn tela, pakhat hi chu resource person a ni nghe nghe. Tin, England-a cheng, Pakistan mi, nula pakhat a rawn tel bawk.

Field Visit-ah team khatah kan awm dun

SACYN Leader’s Training 5th Module 2017 hi Negambo, Sri Lanka-ah neih  a ni a. Khawvel ram hrang hrang – Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, England, India, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan leh Sri Lanka atangin kan kalkhawma. India ram atang hian Kohhran 3 (CSI, Syrian Orthodox leh PCI) atangin kan kala, CKTP (Mizoram Synod) aiawhin Nl. Lalfamkimi (Fk-i) nen kan kal.

SACYN 2017 palai te

[Kristian Thalai Chanchinbu April 2018-ah tihchhuah a ni]

The Last of the Pioneer Mission

  • The land of the head hunters was transformed into a land of peace within a short span of time. It was the Lord’s doing. The advent of the Missionaries in the now called Mizoram was in three phases. The Lakher Pioneer Mission (LPM), the last of them all, was established in September 26, 1907 at Saikao Village by Rev. R.A. Lorrain. Since then, his legacy remains there.

Some part of Saikao Village. July 7, 2012

Saikao, previously known as Serkawr is a small village in Siaha district of Mizoram. It is around 300Km from Aizawl, the capital of the state and around 51 Km from Siaha.

The Lakher Pioneer Mission Compound, Saikao

The Lorrain’s Ville Bungalow was built on a hill top in 1914 by Rev. Lorrain himself, using a tin roof, a wooden floor and a ‘dap’ wall (splitted bamboo matted together).

Lorrain Ville, a Bungalow built in 1914 by Rev. RA Lorrain

Trophies at Lorrain’s Ville

Rev. Violet Louise Anne Mark, the third generation of the LPM decided not to return to England. She has been staying at the Lorrain’s Ville till today. Affectionately called as ‘Pi Vaili’ by the locals is the grand daughter of Rev. R.A. Lorrain. Born on April 16, 1938, at Saikao, her mother was “Tlosai Zua No”  (Princess of the Lakher), the daughter of Rev. Lorrain. Her father was Mr. A.B. Bruce Foxtall. She was married to Rev. L. Mark, a Mara theologian in 1968. She was ordained as a minister in 1994 by Rev. Lambert Garter at Saikao.

Rev. Violet L. Mark (Photo courtesy – Soul Photography, Siaha)

Rev. Violet turned 80 today (April 16, 2018). May God continue to be be with her.

Rev. L. Mark

The Mark’s were blessed with four offspring – 3 sons and 1 daughter.

Grand Childrens of the Mark’s.

The bungalow has been neatly maintained by the Mark’s.  As you walk inside, you can feel the presence of the Lorrain’s. Things were kept as it was.

The living room

The living room was set up in such a way that it was like stepping into a time machine and going back to the 19th century England.

A research colleague, Dr. B. Malsawmkima sat on the rocking chair of Mrs. Lorrain

Rev. Lorrain developed the Mara Alphabet and translated the bible in his study room in the bungalow.

Study room at the Lorrain’s Ville

The Holy Bible used as a reference by Rev. R.A. Lorrain for translation into Mara

Rev. Lorrain was a trained medical personnel. It was his knowledge in  medicine that gained the trust of the head hunters (Lorrain, 1920).

Biography of Hudson Taylor and other Medical Books and a typewriter

Ms. Tlosai, the daughter of Rev. Lorrain was an excellent pianist. It was said that most of the Mara Gospel songs were translated and written by using this upright piano. Which was freighted in 1932 to Tlabung by boat, it was then disassembled and transported to Saikao by means of pony.

A Dale Forty upright piano

The Maraland celebrated its Gospel Centenary in 2007. Saikao village, being the provenance of the Gospel in the area, remained in the hearts of the Mara Community and the whole Mizoram. The dedications of the Pioneer Missionaries will always be cherished. The legacy, which remained there  will also be an evidence of their dedications.

A monument erected at Saikao to commemorate the Gospel Centenary of the Maraland.

 

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!

[Isaiah 52:7 (KJV)]

Oftenly I heard about the LPM and their legacies which remain there at Saikao. Visiting the LPM has always been in my bucket list. On July the 7th 2012, while venturing around the Siaha Forest Division, we had our brunch at Kaochao (Kawlchaw) Forest Beat House. We were then taken to the village forest plantation around the legendary Saikao village.  We took the offroad to cut our journey short. We crossed the Chhimtuipui river, heading straight to Saikao through a fair weather road. The road was bumpy and slippery. If not for a robust Gypsy, we would have stuck on the way.

Crossing the river Chhimtuipui

Luck favoured us. The ACF, who was the Liaison officer for the monitoring team was born and raised up at Saikao Village. The LPM Premise was his childhood playground. He took us to the Bungalow and we finally met the Last of the Pioneer Missionary.

It was an impromptu visit…had it been a pre-planned visit, I would have not wear a camouflage shirt…and lucky me for that boy standing in front of me…who hideth the chempui carried cross-draw at my waist 😀

Even though it was ecology which brought us there, it was more a pilgrimage to me. A pilgrimage to witness the love and the grace of God.

Today, on her 80th Birthday, our prayers are with Rev. L. Mark and his family, who lovingly cared for Rev. Violet, as she is bedridden due to hypertension and other old age ailments. #prayforrevviolet

A heartfelt gratitude to –

  • Soul Photography, Siaha for permitting me to use Rev. Violet’s portrait.
  • Mr. Beihrochhua, a close friend, for helping me to get the necessary information.

Reference:

Lorrain, R.A. 1920. Pioneering Lakherland. Lakher Pioneer Mission, London.

Ayubhowan: A Ceylon Diary

There’s a hymn by Reginald Heber (1783-1826) we used to sing, which read –

“What though the spicy breezes, Blow soft o’er Ceylon’s isle…”

Since then, the name Ceylon has been lingering in my mind. The Lord showed His mercy on me, and giveth me the privileged to experience the spicy breezes that blow across the Indian Ocean, for a week.  Like the hymnodist said, it was a beautiful country, which earnestly longed and sacrificed for peace.

Yet again, my camera was my diary, it freezes those moments, that portray Sri Lanka, the nation, that wished me “Ayubhowan” (May you live long).

Deities of the Kohomba

A twin percussionists played the Geta Beraya in a vibrant rhythm. The dancers swirl and swing to the groove of the percussions, and occasionally sang the vannam (a kind of recitation). Most vannam describe the behaviour of animals.

Kandyan dance is believed to originate from the dance performed by the deities of Kohomba in central Sri Lanka.

A group of dancer performing the Kandyan dance

The innaugural procession of the SACYN 2017 was led by these dynamic Kandyan dancers.

Family matter

A sweet smile was their response, as I point my lens towards them, a Sinhalese family. All through the week, I have noticed that the Sinhalese communities are a happy community.

A Sinhalese family – their simple gesture makes me feel at home

One of the major battles the Sri Lankan’s are facing is the battle, with nature, for land. Impact of climate change has been suffered by the country. Submerging of land is one of the major impacts. Land dispute between the Government and the citizens, especially the grassroots is another battle they are fighting. Submerging of land and the 30 years’ war the country had gone through enhanced the dispute.

All these internal conflicts and disputes are a family matters of the country. But climate change…its a matter of the earthlings as a whole!

Life along the Salt Canal

Reclamation and submerging of lands has always been a subject in an Island ecosystem. Several lands are often washed off or submerged by the sea waters. The Muthurajawela wetland in Negambo, Sri Lanka is also among those, often submerged by salt water. A canal was built by the British to drain the salt water in 1802 and named it Hamilton Canal (aka Dutch Canal). At present, it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the area.

Settlement along the Salt canal

Houses are constructed along the canal, leaving only a narrow footpath, without a railing. It seems the settlers are well adapted to it, and never fell into the canal. On the contrary, I was told that a few moments before I shot this photo, a three-wheeler fell in it, but from the other side of the canal.

Fisherman’s agony
Fishing industry is one of the most blooming industries in the Sri Lankan economy. The government has envisioned a large scale fishing industry.At present, the fishing community comprises of the traditional fishing community with an improvised or modernised oruvas (sailing canoe). These fishermen are the grassroots of the society, continuing the fishing legacy for more than a century.

The Government’s new policy on the fishing industry is not so welcomed by them, as they have a suspicion that they will be overthrown by the corporate. The National Fishery Solidarity Movement (NAFSO) endlessly fights for the rights of the fishing community.

Fisherman untangled their caught

If the policy is empowered, not only the grassroots will suffer, but the method adopted by the fishing industry is detrimental to the environment; increasing the rate of erosion and submerging of coastal low lands. Fighting against both the climate change and the policy agonised the fisherman.

Fading glory

As the government is eyeing to enlarge the fishing industry, the traditional fishing communities, the grassroots of the society, are in despair. To them, fishing is not only a passion, but a life and a legacy.

With the advent of the corporate equipped with hi-tech fishing gears, the fishing legacy of the indigenous community is fading day by day, dwindling year after year.

A wife helped her fisherman-husband in picking the fishes and the crustaceans entangled in the net. Women play an active role in fighting for the rights of the fisherman.

There will be times when the traditional fishing technique will be seen only through art works, when the oruvas is only a museum collection. When those times come, they’ll ponder upon the good old days, their glorious days that fade…

Sanguine

After hearing all the country’s dark side, I met this young boy, who just came back from school. He was neither bothered by the past nor the future, but enjoyed the present. A confident smile was his reaction to the lens being aimed at him.

A Jolly and confident young boy of Negambo city.

He might not understand the struggle that the Lankan’s had gone through. He might not be aware of the bloody war that was fought. The consequences of the war were beyond his perception. But he’s enjoying the moment, he’s the new generation, a generation of peace and tranquility.

Walking the Negambo City

Negambo is a City on the west coast of Sri Lanka, north of the capital, Colombo. It is famous for its lagoon and beach.

A lottery counter in Negambo

A Lottery counter on the roadside had an ample amount of customers.

Street food- Almost all the food items contained at least a few pinched of sea food.

We were relentlessly searching for a street food hawker. We finally managed to find this guy. He might be a Sri Lankan Tamil, and the fruits that he hanged suggested he’s a Hindu.

A girl, waiting for a school bus

The internal politics of the country is beyond our knowledge. Many blamed the Government for not providing sufficient humanitarian aid to the civil war refugee. This picture, reminded me of those that still suffered the consequences of the civil war.

Peace – a Tamil gentleman

On the contrary, this Tamil gentleman gestured the sign of peace. Ironically, the Sri Lankan Civil War was fought between the Tamil separatist and the Sri Lankan Government.

Devotion
As she finished her noon prayer, a believer rejoicingly left the Church. She was sitting and praying at the back pew. She was wearing a hearing aid. I, oftenly, used to think that what the mainstream society called differently-abled are more devoted and consecrated to their faith.

A devoted believer

St. Stephen’s Church has a long history. Built in 1877 and consecrated on Jul. 31, 1880, was declared as Archaeological protected monument in 2011; and it belongs to the Anglican Church.

St. Stephens Church, Negambo

I bid goodbye to Sri Lanka on Oct. 14, 2017.

“Ayubhowan, Sri Lanka”