The Bamboo Chronicles

Being born and raised in a family where the kitchen garden is primarily dominated by bamboo, there has always been a part of bamboo in me. Our “Chuktuah huan” (Kitchen garden or backyard) was the place where the chronicles begun. At least three species of bamboo were growing, till 2006. The gregarious flowering of the Mautak (Melocanna baccifera) since 2006 was the cause of the downfall of the bamboo dynasty at our backyard.

Bamboo forest cleared for Lo (jhum field). A view from West Phaileng to Lallen road.

Bamboo, by taxonomy, belongs to a grass family. Functionally, it is more like a wood, and is often regarded as a tree. Mizoram has at least 25 indigenous species of bamboo, belonging to 8 genera. Among them, Mautak (M. baccifera) is the dominating species, occupying ~90% of the bamboo forest of the state. Since time immemorial, bamboo has been used in varied ways. It is one of the most highly utilized natural resources among the Mizo community.

There’s a saying, once a man built a house with bamboo. He used bamboo pole, bamboo flooring, bamboo wall and bamboo thatched roof and cooked bamboo shoot in a bamboo culm, using bamboo as fuel wood. He then consumed the bamboo shoot, and said, “Bamboo, I’m in you and you’re in me.” Indeed, bamboo has a deep impact on the socio-economics and socio-culture of  the Mizo society.

A young girl sells a bamboo shoot @Vaipuanpho

The recent re-clarification of bamboo as a grass, by the president of India, however abstain the Incredible India to claim its carbon trading protocol through bamboo. If only it was acknowledged as a tree, the carbon credit owned by India would be immense, much much higher than those hardwood species. However, bamboo farmers would easily harvest their bamboo without acquiring permission from the government. In other words, bamboo being re-classified as grass makes it unnecessary to obtain permission, they can freely harvest and sell. Its a great news for the bamboo farmers. Yet, the environmental service rendered by the bamboo forests remains the same.

The Bamboo College

I did my UG studies at the Union Christian Christian College (UCC). The UCC was established in Aug. 14, 1952 at Umiam Khwan, Meghalaya by the Assam Christian Council, now known as the North East India Christian Council (NEICC). During its inception, the managing board was so poor that they could not afford any hi-fi building materials. Instead, they built classrooms and other buildings with the locally available bamboo. Since then, it was given a nick name “the Bamboo College.”

The guy who grew up among the clumps and culms of bamboo finally graduated from the bamboo college. The story continues…

The bambu sapiens

After completing PG from the Mizoram University, the guy among the bamboo choose to be with the bamboo yet again. Enrolling myself to do a research on the ecological services of bamboo in combating the climate change,  I think about bamboo, I spoke about bamboo, I dreamt about bamboo and I keep on working in the bamboo forest here and there.

Sub-samples for laboratory analysis. The RE Classic playing its role!

Bamboo leads me to 5 study sites in the five administrative districts of Mizoram. Visiting each sites bi-monthly; measuring the girth, collecting the soils, excavating the roots, collecting the litters. Two and half years passed, those data sets were transformed into some magical equations…and lo! I was permitted to submit my thesis.

Bambu sapiens at work among the Rawthing (clumps of B. tulda) @Mausen, Lunglei district

Since I worked on and with bamboo for more than two years, my friend used to call me ‘bamboo man,’ however, there are guys like Ghani Zaman who has been acknowledged as ‘Bamboo Man’ for his enormous bamboo related works. Moreover, my contribution and experience doesn’t deserve the ‘bamboo man’ title. Instead, ‘bambu-sapiens’ feels more suitable…hehe…

Field work was never a burden when you have a friend who always stood by your side be it storm or rain! Kudos to a research colleague, Dr. B. Malsawmkima

Dec. 2, 2014

Another months passed; finally Dec. 2, 2014 was the day I stood for the bamboo, defending the bamboo and proclaim that “Bamboo is the answer!” After a few sets of questions being answered, a round of applause and an acknowledgement from my Supervisor sealed the day.  Handshake and light refreshment followed.

Meanwhile at home, on the same day, there was a news of a new born baby girl; another member in the family. She is the third child and first daughter of my elder brother. How joyful it was! Its the Lord doing.

Happy birthday to Lalrinfeli (Fel-feli)

The Acknowledgment

In my thesis, I wrote the following few lines, acknowledging those that made me the bambu-sapiens:

I expressed my heartfelt gratitude to my supervisor Prof. S.K. Tripathi for his never ending encouragement, guidance and advice. Without him, this research work will never be completed. I am also thankful to my co-supervisor Dr. F Lalnunmawia, a wonderful counselor, who is always ready for me.

I thanked Prof. U.K. Sahoo, the Head of Department of Forestry and other faculty members of the department for their constant support.
Several personnel, who helped me in locating the potential study sites and arranging the necessary protocol for performing the on field experiments and collection of samples, especially Pi Chhawni of Mausen and Pu Patrick Z, the then Village Council President of Chhingchhip Mualpui, are instrumental in the completion of this work, I shall never forget them.

Their names are worth mentioning – Mr. B. Malsawm Kima, a research colleague, who always stood by my side, be it storm or rain, another research colleague – Mr. Lalriliana Fanai and Ms Jeeceelee Leishangthem for their tiredless help in the field work, data analysis as well as in the laboratory works. I am much obliged to them.

I am extremely grateful to Dr. H. Lalhlenmawia, Head, Department of Pharmacy, RIPANS, Aizawl and his staff, Dr. Aduha Pachuau, in particular, for their generousity and assistance in the laboratory works.
The staffs of the Central Instrumentation Laboratory, Mizoram University are the backbone in the chemical analyses of my samples, I am thankful to them.

My sincere gratitude goes to Dr. C. Lalrammawia for his support and advice in shaping up my thesis.

The support I received from my parents encouraged me to reach this far. Words could not express my gratitude to my loving parents!

Above all, I thanked God for His merciful blessings which He bestowed upon me. I thanked Him for giving me all of the above and lots more.

April 10, 2015: Xth Convocation of MZU – “By virtue of the power vested in me…I admit you to the degree of…I charge you that ever in your life and conversation you show yourselves worthy of the same”

To this day, I often asked myself “Am I worthy of it…?”

[slightly personal… :D]

4 thoughts on “The Bamboo Chronicles”

  1. A mesmerizing bamboo hero has another hit on his own hands!!!.

    You do really keep me turning all the pages., It is an artistic work…as you bring all your themes together at your crucial moment for a gripping, and logical, finale…
    ..know you for real.😅😅.,, in this dramatic world.

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