Photobucket had recently made a very dick move by disabling all third-party embedded pics unless I pay $399. I've been blogging for 13 years and have 2000+ embedded pics across 650+ blog posts, which are now all unviewable. I'm working on moving my images to a new host, so until then, please do bear with me if you cannot view any images on my older blog posts.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Chp 425. 10,000 misual fans & more to come


Last night, around 10pm, this website – misual.com, that a couple of friends and I run, just hit 10,000 fans on Facebook. It was indeed a momentous milestone for us, especially when you take into consideration that we do not profit from the site (ZERO monetization plan) while all of us have our respective jobs and manage the site part-time, and we do it purely out of good will and passion to indulge people in debates and healthy discussions.

10,000 is indeed a good number, as we have never done any promotional campaign for the site. 10,000 fans, or to be technically precise, 10,000 likes (initially, it used to be called “fans”) is not an easy achievement at all, because unlike Facebook groups, we cannot just add anybody from our Facebook friend-list to the page. The person himself/herself, will have to click the “LIKE” button on his/her own volition.



As of this very minute, misual.com has –

16,272 published posts
5,80,528 comments
16,857 registered users

Strong figures. Yes a lot of things have changed since Ben first made the site way back in 2005, shifting it from Drupal to WordPress in 2006, facing our first FIR case in 2008, and then Ben retiring from misual.com and leaving the responsibilities to us on August 6th 2009, one day after the site’s 4th anniversary. And now, we’re slowly moving into 2013, towards our 8th anniversary and the site is still growing strong.

But of course we know things do not last forever. I’ve been in the online world long enough to understand web portals and the dynamics of online platforms. Right from the days when threaded discussion forums were popular (remember those izawl.com, zoram.com days?), to the times when Drupal, WordPress and Joomla CMS forums came into being, I’ve seen many top Indian discussion forums like desipundit, blogbharti and mutiny.in rise to the top and crumble. I watched in great interest when Reddit and 4chan saw a mass exodus of members leaving their sites. Remember how popular Digg and StumbleUpon used to be at one point of time? The two sites are now more or less dead

And then came the rise of social networking sites that had seen many hits and misses. Hi5 is now like a mediocre social gaming site after Tagged purchased it two years ago, MySpace just got relaunched recently (I love the soundtrack used) but it looks more like a music social network site planning to compete against last.fm, Grooveshark, Pandora, Spotify etc. rather than go directly up against big daddy Facebook itself, and we also saw how Orkut, which was once the reigning champ of Social Networking in India, went through a slow agonizing death and made way for the new king - Facebook.

Therefore, with the internet constantly evolving, even we have to constantly evolve if we want to survive. We have tried comment plugins like Disque, implemented Facebook “likes” on posts and comments, tried integrating the login with Twitter api and so on. But in most of the cases, since our traffic is so high, all these extra plugins utilize more resources at godaddy where we have hosted our server, leading them into taking down our site or giving us a stern warning for the umpteenth time. And like I mentioned initially, managing misual.com is purely a voluntary work, so we can’t afford to buy any server space as we are not gaining financially from this site.

Hence as of now, Facebook page is a way of coping with the technological change. I created this official Facebook fan page in 2010. Two years later, we are now 10,000 fans/likes strong. The irony of this is, when it comes to the actual work I am doing for a living, I am handling a lot of social media accounts for many of our esteemed clients (which I can’t name for the obvious reason) and many of them actually have fewer fans than misual.com, hihihi…

Apart from keeping up with technology and the trends and changes, from all my experiences so far, I think another very important factor to running a community site successfully is to make sure all the admins are on the same page with each other. I have seen my fair share of many popular discussion forums (that I was a member of) that broke up merely because the admins failed to see eye-to-eye with each other regarding a post deletion or site guidelines. And then one set of admins would leave the site, creating a similar (competing) website and so on, and both the members of those two sites would perpetually bitch about each other. I have seen this same story unfold too many times all over the interwebz.

And of course loyalty among the users build up and people start picking their sides during an online battle that includes mass spamming and DDoS attacks on each other. Take for instance the recent 9gag – 4chan /b/ war, or 4chan’s “Operation Overlord” against Tumblr. Another good example of a relationship gone sour would be LulzSec’s attack on 4chan, the infamous /b/ Civil War due to Boxxy, and the war between Backtrace Security and Anonymous group. Backtrace was once a part of Anonymous.

If the admins don’t have a high level of tolerance and cannot stand each other, or vehemently disagree with each other on various issues, then one can only expect a storm brewing up. Luckily, for misual.com, it’s as if all of us (the admins) share a single brain :P

So, this is just a quick update to announce misual.com crossing the 10,000 threshold, and in spite of us losing traffic due to the popularity of Facebook, we still have a very significant and sizeable amount of loyalists who visit the site every day.

Yes, be ready to accept the fact that one day, misual.com will go defunct. This is the online world we’re talking about. Everybody keeps moving on. Nothing stays permanent in this world. Every day I wake up with the thought that misual.com will no longer see any activities. In fact, 7 years is an EXTREMELY long life for a website considering how many sites have died till now. But as long as it is still active, I along with the other admins will try our best to keep the site alive and kicking. Of course one of these days, it will go down, afterall, this is the online world. But I promise you this - if we’re going down, we’re going to go down fighting :)

Cheers!


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Chp 424. Networking dinner III: Spanish Surprise


So last Friday I took part in my third Coral Networking Dinner event. The theme was “Spanish Surprise”.

I have blogged about Coral Dinner before, you can check the detailed post here: Networking dinner II: Mediterranean Cuisine, guaranteed to make your mouth water, especially if you are a Foodie.

So as I have mentioned before, Coral Dinner is an exclusive networking dinner event, held at Prahlad Kakkar’s bungalow. Mint even described it as a Snooty Foodie’s Club, as it is held just once or twice a month, and we have to confirm our reservation days before. There are only around 10 seats. Once the limit is reached, the others get on a waiting list, in the hope that one of the participants cancels. When a participant cancels without a valid excuse in the last minute, he or she gets blacklisted and cannot take part in further Coral dinners again.

It’s aptly called Networking Dinner because we all go alone and meet other participants for the first time and we start talking about different things, and then as you keep talking about this and that, more often than not, you’ll end up finding a link, like you have a common friend or you have worked on the same client before etc etc… while at the same time enjoying the delicious food the hosts are serving. The cost of the dinner is 1200 per head.

The participants this time were:

Murtuza –  Angel Investor
Kumar Jhuremalani – Founder of pet pujaris and professional Game Tester
Shubada Lele – Owner of Shubh Yog Kendra, yoga specialist for special disease
Shivram – Director for a leading financial company
Neetu Prasad – Analyst at a telecom company
Sarang Kulkarni – Works at Lacadives, the dive shop
Pawan Deokule – Managing Director at Digicat Digital Marketing Pvt Ltd
Megha Goyal – Founder of i2Cook and Head Chef at Coral Networks
Kima – Lover of Old Monk, Creative Trailblazer at Webchutney Pvt Ltd

Yes, as you can see from the array of different professions, it was indeed a very interesting night as we all shared our experiences and stories.

The theme this time was “Spanish Surprise”, which means everything was going to be Spanish.

The moment I reached and met the others, I was served Sangria, which is red wine punch with chopped fruits. Meg used Shiraz Sula for the wine, and both golden & red apples for the fruit. It was very refreshing and stronger than I expected as it hit my head on my third drink. The non-alcoholics had guava juice natural from Auroville.



So as the conversation got going, I found out Shivram was an alumnus of IIM-Bangalore and I told him I dropped out from that institution and we immediately bonded, talking about L-Square parties, placement, professors, pranks etc…

Meg served the appetizers soon, and for vegetarians there was freshly baked organic bread with romesco sauce… I love the sauce… I asked if the bread is also called Spanish bread, and she said no because Spanish bread is actually a Filipino sweet bread… Ahhh my knowledge about food just got a little bigger. Romesco sauce by the way, is quite controversial, so I’ll just put it here before anybody argues with me – It is a Catalan pepper sauce. Catalans take it as an offence when people call it a Spanish sauce, because of the whole Catalonian nationalism issue in Spain…



For non vegetarians, there was Tortilla De Patatas (which basically means Spanish style omelette and potato pancakes), which tasted like no eggs I had ever tasted before. It was really smooth and easy to swallow, as it melted in our mouths quickly. I tried my best to find and identify the savoury of any distinct spice in my mouth, but failed to do so, so I just took another sip of my Sangria and enjoyed the food without trying to analyze it.



And then my favourite – parsley prawns sautéed in oil, garlic and parsely with a squeeze of lime. Murtuza and I quickly became close friends as he and I were the only ones eating prawns that night. And boy, the two of us alone gorged through the entire serving, lolz.



Shubada Lele, the yoga specialist shared very interesting stories about her line of work, and how she even spent many months in Burma, learning about a specialized form of yoga. We even discussed about the Mizos, the Chin people and how there are many people from “Zohnahthlak” living in Burma.

Kumar Jhuremalani shared a lot of his travel experiences in South America, and as it turned out, he used to work at Resultrix, where I know a lot of people. Apart from being a foodie and the founder of Pet Pujaris, a popular foodie group, he is also a game tester and avid gamer. I told him I’m also working on a game project right now, so we activated our Geek Mode and spent the rest of the evening discussing all types of games and the gaming market in India.

The main course was soon served, and there were two options - Seafood Paella and Vegetarian Paella. Paella is a traditional Valencian rice dish with vegetables, saffron, olive oil and other seasonings. Seafood Paella is very popular, especially in the East coast of Spain.



We finally ended the night with Sponge cake, topped with cinnamon spiked cream. It was absolutely yummmm. Your mouth is watering right now, right? :)



As the night ended, around 2 in the morning, we all bid each other good night and Meg told me to take the remaining seafood paella home as I loved it so much. So I happily did that, and the next day, I had the same food again, along with omelette, fried in my own style though, not Spanish.



This was the last Coral event of this year, so I can’t wait for next year when it resumes again. What new cuisine will I get to taste? Which new people will I get to meet? Only time will tell, I guess.

Cheers everyone :)

All Photos courtesy Megha Goyal, except of course the last pic :P

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Chp 423. Those good ol cassette days



My dear blog friend John Ruolngul’s latest post update [Thank God for Cassettes!! (and Music)] inspired me to update my blog with this post.

Yes, I miss the good ol days when our lives revolved around tape cassettes. And how we always used to carry a Reynold’s pen with us, to rewind or fast forward the cassette as we didn’t want to waste our walkman battery’s life. Was Reynold’s pen popular back then because it was actually a good pen, or was it purely accidental that the pen happened to fit inside a cassette perfectly? A little case study needs to be done here.

Much has been said about cassettes. You can read John’s blog above, or you can move over to my ex-roomie’s post about cassettes which is funny and nostalgic.

Over here, I’ll just update this post with a few pictures I took today.

After reading John’s blog post, I immediately scavenged through my old junk, and dug out my cassette collection! Yes my current flat mate says I’m a hoarder, and unfortunately that is true. I have A LOT of things I carry around with me all the time because I cannot throw them away due to too many sentimental attachments and sweet memories. So imagine me who move from one city to the other many times carrying my entire past with me wherever I go… hehehe… yeah, the “movers and packers” bill is always quite a lot.

So here it is, a soon to be extinct species of the music industry…

 

Though I was brought up on glam-rock and glam-metal, like most Mizos who’re born in the late 70’s and early 80’s who were crazy about Guns n’ Roses, Def Leppard, Warrant, Firehouse, Cinderella, Nazareth etc., there was a rebel side of me that was really into heavy metal too. Slayer, Testament, Helloween, Dio, Danzig etc. were some of my favorite bands.





Ozzy was my idol back then, not because of his onstage gimmicks as it wasn’t that easy getting access to music videos back then (remember Headbangers Ball on MTv?), but rather because I fell in love with his voice. And I’m probably one of the few people who prefer Megadeth over Iron Maiden.



And then came the transition to “Nu-metal” like RATM and Limp Bizkit in the late 90’s. “Significant Other” was the first Limp Bizkit album I bought, though I have no freaking idea where it is now… I even bought a cool Korn tee-shirt, which was probably the second musical band tee-shirt I owned, after a GnR tee-shirt I bought in the late 80’s.



OSTs were another category I also collected back then. I swear I had at least more than 50 movie soundtrack cassettes at one time, now all gone due to assholes who never return borrowed cassettes. Whenever I watch a new movie (those were the days we actually used to go to movie theatres to watch new releases as internet access was either unavailable or expensive), I always paid attention to the background track numbers while the movie was playing, and then decide whether I should buy the OST cassette or not.



Here’s my Mizo cassette collection. My first Mizo band album was “Tribal Power”, which apparently is now lost in oblivion. Love that band… I bought a Nunui cassette from Nunui herself when I met her in Bangalore during a dinner party at a friend’s place. I’m sure she won’t even remember me or that incident anymore, lolz.



Here’s some of my mushy love song collection… it has songs like “Cherish” by Kool and the gang, “Donna” by Ritchie Valens, “Drive” by The Cars, “Rise to the occasion” by Climie Fisher etc… I miss those days when every house party always used to end with a slow jam session, with every couple holding each other and swaying slowly to songs like Lady in red, I wanna know what love is, Sailing, True colours, Listen to your heart etc etc…



And what would a cassette collection be without the Christmas albums? :) They complete the collection… they’re the most sought after albums during December and then remain untouched for the other 11 months of a year, lolz.



And here are a few other albums from my collection. I remember buying the Evanescence album, but by then, it was already the era of mp3s, and having a lot of Theatre of Tragedy songs and other symphonic gothic bands with female frontman like Lacuna Coil, Nightwish, Sirenia, Within Temptation etc, I clearly failed to understand the hype Evanescence made.



And oh, yes, there was a phase when I was really into gangsta hiphop too, lolz. But by that I don’t mean the rappers of today who think rapping is only about disrespecting women and calling them ho’s and acting like a thug while wearing pants up to their knees… My generation of rappers were actually talented, with the likes of 2Pac, Bone thugz n’ harmony, Dr. Dre, DMX etc… and lolz, apparently I used to call myself “Kill Boyband” Kima back then, haha.



So why do I still have this “junk” with me? Like I said, I guess it’s because of the emotional attachments I have with them. Each cassette tells a story… Like for example, one of the more recent cassettes I bought had this scribbled inside…

Daddy – Curzon Court B’lore, Quaterly Hols ’98 – ’99



I always write things like this on all my cassettes, just to remember when I bought them or with whom. When I read the one above, it filled me with warm memories immediately. Back in 1998, my dad flew down from Mizoram to spend my school’s quarterly holidays with me in Bangalore, instead of me going home. As most of you may know, I’ve always been in a hostel away from home and family most of my life, so that particular holiday, I really bonded with my dad.

The two of us stayed in this suite at Curzon Court, which is a prominent hotel right on Brigade Road. And then one evening, our family friends Pu Rinsanga (now retired IAS) and his wife came over to our room to play cards with dad, while I went out with their son Hminga, who was also my friend and classmate. That night, we pub-hopped all over Brigade Road, and finally we tried this street drugs called laddoo, which was pretty popular back then. It’s apparently sweetened bhaang. After that, his friends came along and we went to visit a haunted temple at a very deserted forest outside the city, as there’s a rumor that a spirit would chase those who came to ring the temple bells at midnight. Our aim was to ring and run away as fast as we could.

Hehe, I was so bloody drunk and stoned at the same time that when we reached the venue and rang the temple bells, everybody ran as fast as they could while I just sat down on the steps not giving a f*ck about anything. Lolz. That morning, around 2-3’ish, Hminga and his friends carried me all the way up to my hotel room, made me stand up against the door, rang the bell and ran away because they were afraid my dad would scold them. That night was the first time dad ever saw me wasted, and I was trying my BEST to act sober and walk straight and speak without a slur, lolz. The next morning, when I woke up, dad gave me a full bottle of ice cold water and it felt SO good downing it. After that, we went shopping.

See, I remembered all that just by looking inside the cover of all my cassettes. Each one has a tale to tell.

So these are my tape cassettes. What about you? Still have yours? Hit me back.

Cheers.


Monday, October 08, 2012

Chp 422. Warriors Of The Rainbow


When I told my friend I was going to watch this movie called “Warriors Of The Rainbow”, his first reaction was, “Dude, haha, the name sounds a bit gay, don’t ya think? Rainbow warrior? Seriously?”

Lolz, well, I never thought of it that way. I don’t have anything against gay pride, but that doesn’t mean I must watch gay movies just to show my support to the rainbow movement.

“Noooo idiot, this movie was recommended to me by a friend with whom I share similar taste in movies. He told me to watch it definitely... He’s the same guy who recently told us to watch “The Flowers of War” which you initially thought was gay too because of the FLOWERS but it was an awesome movie, remember?”

He nodded.

Ahh… The Flowers Of War.  Such a tear-jerker. One of the best movies I have seen this year.

Whenever I’m about to watch a foreign language film, I always do a quick research online first. The director of TFOW was Yimou Zhang, who directed three of my all-time favorite Chinese language movies - Hero, House Of Flying Daggers and Curse Of The Golden Flower. But I was a bit skeptical as all those movies were during ancient China, whereas TFOW was during Japan’s invasion of Nanking in 1937. Will he be equally good in making a post-modern era movie? Christian Bale was in the movie and it had a good rating on IMDB so we decided to watch it. Oh, what an awesome movie it was!

 

The conflicts between the convent girls and the prostitutes were captured and portrayed beautifully. The movie depicted humanity at its finest, about how some of us are like savages in the worst of times while others sacrifice themselves for a noble cause.  I highly recommend you watch it too.

Now, coming to the topic of this post – Warriors Of The Rainbow.



When we watch something extremely touching, even if we are the most testosterone pumped up male, sometimes a tear involuntarily rolls down our cheek (unless of course you’re some sociopath devoid of any human emotions and feelings). For me, while I was watching WOTR, there were at least more than ten occasions when I had to wipe the tears off my cheeks. The last time something like that happened to me was when I watched Hotel Rwanda many years ago.

WOTR really really touched me because, being a Mizo, I found so many similarities between our Mizo tribe and the Seediq Bales. We’re both head-hunters, collecting heads of the people we killed in battle to display our feat, and at the same time we’re not like the headhunters of Africa where headhunting is more related to cannibalism over there. We both fought against other clans of our tribe regularly, living separately at our respective villages headed by a chief. We have our own territories or “hunting ground”, and we love to celebrate by sitting around a fireplace and getting drunk while dancing with the womenfolk in rhythm to the music beat. The men do the fighting and hunting while the women do the cooking and weaving. We were animists, and the Seediqs believed in something like an afterlife beyond the rainbow.

I know, I know, that is pretty much a common tribal trait across the world, especially a warrior tribe. But watching the movie gave me goosebumps and I had this really strong feeling of kinship with the Seediqs.

The Japanese took a long time to conquer them, wherein they lost thousands of troops against a few Seediq warriors because of their jungle warfare tactic and unconditional courage and love for their homeland. Similarly, the British army took a while to conquer our tribe even though they had far superior weapons and artillery.

The movie is based on a true event called the “Wushe incident”. Well, there’s this recent Mizo movie released in Mizoram about the historical massacre of Khawnglung Run village, which is also based on a true story. Below is a trailer of that movie –



Yes you’ll see so many similarities between the Mizos and Seediqs, though the two film scripts are very different (one is about a struggle to rescue the love of his life, while the other is a struggle to lead the people he loves to freedom from the invading Japanese forces)



Of course there is a huge difference in the production quality of the two trailers displayed above due to the amount of money and talent invested in the projects (plus, the executive producer of WOTR is John-fucking-awesome-Woo). But it really feels good to know the Mizo film industry is coming up this fast.

At Warriors Of The Rainbow, you will see how clans perceive each other, and how people will do anything to protect their land and family. There are awesome fight scenes, and very moving scenes too that will guarantee a tear to fall down.

Do watch it when you can, you will not regret it. I’m ending this short post with a few more pictures of Warriors Of The Rainbow.

Pic source: Rotten Tomatoes

























Thursday, October 04, 2012

Chp 421. How Mizo am I?


I’m sure if you've been around a lot, away from your comfort zones, your “people”, your “natural habitat and environment”, you must have asked yourself this question at least once, “How [insert the ethnical group you belong to] am I?” Or worse, somebody asked you that question right to your face…

Because if you belong to a particular group or community, society expects you to have some trait or personality of wherever you’re from, no matter how many times you’ve broken away from the stereotypic mould and created your own avatar.

I’m a Mizo. And one of the things that kinda irritate me a bit is when other Mizos say, “Mizo nih chuan…” English Translation: “If you are a Mizo, then you should…”

I hate that line. In fact if I’m with a couple of Mizos and somebody starts their sentence with that particular line, I just shut myself off completely. On one hand, we are complaining about how people generalize us or how we are not given our due recognition, but on the other hand, we are not taking any attempt to assimilate or do whatever we want to do, out of one’s own free will and volition, with no bondage to cultural shackles or societal norms. That choice of freedom is up to every individual… and it is uncomfortable when people look at me differently just because sometimes I am “not very Mizo”.

What does “being Mizo” mean?

That fact that I hate TEA seems to get on the nerves of many Mizos. “Either you’re a 7th Day Adventist or you’re not a Mizo, how can any Mizo hate tea?” is the question I face many times. Why can’t a person just dislike tea? Why do people always try to force me into liking tea so much, just because it is the unofficial State drink of Mizoram? I don’t like tea, and that is the path I have chosen. Live and let live.

I was brought up in Tamil Nadu. So from the time I was small till I graduated from Engineering College, the first thing I always drank in the morning was coffee. Filtered coffee. So I became a coffee lover. An addict. And tea wasn’t appealing to me because of that, even though almost every Mizo drinks tea (except the 7th Day Adventists of course). And as I have pointed out in my blog earlier too, when I say I love Ice Tea, then the first question people ask me is, “How can you love ice tea and hate hot tea??? That doesn’t make any sense!” and again I have to reply, “You like chilled beer? Yeah? Well do you like hot boiling beer too? No? I rest my case.”

Similarly, I’m supposed to like every Mizo dish. If you’re a Mizo and you don’t like the traditional Mizo dishes, then they call you names like a snob and “in ti changkang” and somebody who is ashamed of being a Mizo… 

Seriously??? Questioning one’s patriotism and loyalty over… taste buds?

I love bekang and nghapih and a lot of stinky dishes. But at the same time I am not a big fan of the bitter veggies, which one can find in almost every Mizo cuisine. And I don’t like being forced to like those, because I really can’t. Being a Mizo does not guarantee me to like them. And if I prefer, say, a five course meal at an expensive 5 star restaurant starting with the proper appetizers and wine and ending it with the perfect dessert, instead of our local Mizo cuisine, does that make me a snooty prick? Or even worse, a turncoat to one’s root?

No, for various reasons: One, I’ve been working my ass off every day for the past so many years so that I can afford such food on a regular basis. You reap what you sow. Two, It’s a matter of taste buds. Of course to me the Hotel food tastes better but does that mean I eat only such high-end cuisine or exotic dishes? Hell no, if I want, I am content with just rice and dal with no other side dish. I am that simple. In fact I can survive eating just roadside vada-pavs or samosas for days, so don’t you ever judge me on that.

The thing is, I like variation. I like my food to rotate, you know. And that is why sometimes I think I will never fit in a typical Mizo household, where for breakfast and dinner, we eat the same food every day for the rest of our lives. Like I said, I can manage with Mizo dishes, but I need variations now and then, otherwise life gets too… simple and plain and… a bit boring. I’d like to rotate my breakfast or brunch with poha for one day, upma the other, then dosas and idlis on some days, then sandwiches on other days, followed by puri bhajji or chole bathura, and then maybe a Mizo full course meal, again followed by cornflakes and pancakes or even just bread and jam, and then back to poha again and so on…

Similarly, for lunch or dinner, I can of course have a Mizo meal, but again, I’d like to rotate it now and then with maybe a Chinese meal, an Italian meal, Indian meal with rotis and other bread, or even go for a simple shawarma or pizza and so on. I am a foodie and I love trying out new cuisine, and I have indeed tried out different varieties of food from all across India… That was the way I was brought up, and when one is well past his 30’s, it is indeed very hard to change suddenly and adapt to something else permanently. 

Another situation that makes me contemplate a lot is when I help out my fellow Mizos… being a close knitted society, we of course feel comfortable when we are with other Mizos even if they are strangers. And so, it is very common for one Mizo to help out another Mizo, even if they are meeting for the first time… And when I do that, others call me a good person. The thing is, will I still go that extra mile and help out another stranger if he is not a Mizo? I probably won’t. So does that still make me a good guy then? Probably not.

To me, that is a bit like the faith related question I’d really like to ask some of the Christians I know online (you know, the ones who quote Leviticus 19:28 and brand me a Devil worshipper just because I have tattoos all over my body, but conveniently skip the previous verse Leviticus 19:27 that prohibits man from cutting off his beard and side-burns) the following questions… “Are you NOT committing murder (or rape or burglary etc..) just because the Bible tells us not to do so as it is a SIN… or are you not doing it because it is a wrong thing to do? Because deep down in your heart, in your conscience, in your mind, you know it is bad and wrong?”

But no matter how un-Mizo I may seem to some, a part of me will always forever be Mizo. Because after all, that is who I am. I always talk about our Mizo culture, customs, traditions etc. whenever I am among a group of new people, informing and educating them about who we are and what we do and so on. Because it warms my heart to talk about my roots.

So does “being a Mizo” mean it’s only about the food we eat, or is it more about a higher calling, about how we are proud of our heritage and how seeing other Mizos who excel in different walks of life makes us happy deep down inside? Is “being a Mizo” only about the tea we drink, or is it more about how much we love informing the world about who we are and even going to the extent of scouring the internet everyday just to correct misconceptions people may have about us?

At the end of the day, I think “being a Mizo” means doing whatever you love doing, out of sheer passion, in whatever way you can. To find a connection and bond with other Mizos, which need not be only through traditional cuisines. To feel ashamed when you read the news about another Mizo getting involved in drugs or prostitution. To feel the pain when you see scores of your fellow Mizos fleeing a particular city. To feel elated when you get to know about a Mizo achieving something noteworthy in his/her line of work. To feel a deep kinship every time you come across a Mizo name in the newspaper.

Just the other day, during the ongoing Juniors National Hockey Championship for Girls, Madhya Pradesh thrashed Mizoram 12-1. The top scorer for Madhya Pradesh, who scored a hat-trick, was Ramngaihzuali Ralte, a Mizo. Another Mizo girl Lalruatfeli Hnialum too scored two goals for Madhya Pradesh on that same match. Yes, they just happened to play for a different state and there can be many reasons behind that, maybe they were brought up in MP, maybe they are currently studying there, maybe they have better sports facilities which can help them in their career, it can be anything… but a part of me felt pain. I know it’s not supposed to hurt (maybe) but it did. If, say, for example, Maharasthra beat West Bengal and the best player for Maharasthra happened to be a Bengali, I’m sure not many Bengalis would go, “How could you do that to your own people…” But in my case, it was hard to ignore the disappointment. Maybe it’s because we Mizos are still a very small community and the entire population of Mizoram is less than the population of Andheri East here in Mumbai… Maybe…

Of course I still remember what one of my friends once told me… If we are supposed to act as Indian, as one unit entity as a whole without keeping our ethnocentric roots and respective States first, then why do we keep having these National tournaments and competitions that pitches one State against another?

Hmmm… Food for thought maybe?

In the meantime, let me go reheat some of today’s leftover ham and salami pizza garnished with my own stash of bekang and ratuai pickle, and topped with good ‘ol spicy vaihmarcha rawt dip from Mizoram. Yummm!

Bon appétit to you all…