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Monday, November 26, 2007

Chp 155. The tremor that was...

“Did you guys felt it too this morning? If so, then my utmost apology! I had too much beans & soda last night…”

At around 4:30am this morning, as most of you are already aware of, there was a 4.3 Richter scale tremor felt in Delhi. But what you probably don’t know is, how the people from my colony reacted

Three seconds. That’s all it took of me to rush outside to the main road from my cozy little bed inside. Pretty impressive. Except that I was still in my “flowery” boxers which my Naga neighbors giggled at incessantly.

I was also not wearing my specs. Hence being myopic, everything around me was blurred. Hence I could not look at what those Naga girls were wearing so that I too could giggle back at them (Trust me, all I wanted to do was giggle).

Nu Mateii’s son and daughter, Sanga & Mimi, were also among the people who rushed outside immediately. Unlike the rest of us, they weren’t sleeping; they were watching a “Dragonballz” series of animation. When the tremor commenced, Mimi punched her brother thinking it was “something else”. I guess it was Sanga’s blank expression and the fact that the entire room shook that finally convinced her it was not “what she thought”…

My immediate neighbor, the Guptas, didn’t even budge. They slept peacefully throughout the entire tremor. I don’t blame aunty Gupta for not waking up to the tremor because she has nearly passed her prime, but I am extremely disappointed in Sandy, their Pomeranian, who slept through the entire tremor too! Our dogs on the other hand immediately woke up and rushed outside along with us, barking and warning everybody else about the tremor, whereas Sandy proved to be completely useless. Stray breed – 1, Pedigree – 0. Yay!

Our landlord, Kuldeep Singh and his family, too slept through the entire tremor. When I asked him this morning about it, he told me that he did felt it but was in the middle of a beautiful dream so he chucked the idea of running outside and went back to sleep . You gotta love his composure.

Upstairs, everybody too came running out of their rooms. Apart from the Guptas and our colony Landlord, the only other people who did not feel the tremor was the last house in our small (and close-knitted) colony, occupied by the death-metal band members of “IIIrd Sovereign”. Yes, none of us were surprised they didn’t even feel the tremor, after all, how would they feel a mere 4.3 Richter scale tremor when they were playing their gig everyday in their own private studio at a level of 7.5 on the Richter scale?

We waited on the streets for around 10 minutes under the freezing Delhi winter morning, in case there was an “after-shock”. We didn’t even know if tremors HAVE after-shocks, but none of us were willing to take that risk.

Harish, another resident of our colony, asked me what to do in case there’s an earthquake. I told him nonchalantly that there wasn’t much one can do except run as freaking fast as possible outside and stand away from all tall buildings. He said, “I know thaaaat yaar. But other than that, what can weeee do?”.

Having suddenly woken up from a very good dream and with the cold morning air really starting to get on my nerves, I snapped and told him to “calculate the intensity of the seismic waves and then rotate his body in the opposite direction of the circular waves with the same intensity so as to neutralize the effects of the wave”. His eyes widened and he went “Ahhh…” while nodding knowingly. And then a brief second later, something clicked and he looked at me again and went “bastaaaard…”

I couldn’t help picturing my good friends Rob & Jes with whom I spent the previous evening with, and imagining what they were doing during that moment.

Rob & Jes

They have six kids already (I like to exaggerate a bit), and they are what we Mizos would call a chhangchhia family The mental image of Rob running outside with all six kids clinging on to him while clutching Jes with one hand and the guitar with the other hand… Priceless!

When we all went inside our respective houses 10 minutes later, I took my wallet from my desk and placed them under my pillow immediately. I kept a lot of other things by my side too, like my mobile phone, spectacles, a file-folder containing all my original certificates, a warm jacket, and of course my most cherished possession: my hard-disk, so that I could grab them all the next time I had to dash outside. An earthquake may destroy (touch wood!) my computer, my washing machine, my mobile phone etc. But all those are replaceable. The data on my hard-disk are irreplaceable, with a sentimental value that no amount of money can ever buy.

And oh, I changed my “flowery” boxers and wore my “masculine” CK boxers instead, in case I had to run outside again.

What would YOU take along with you if there is such an earthquake (again, touch-wood!). And what were you doing during the tremor of this morning? It would be interesting to hear your take on this morning’s mild scare.

All the best trying to sleep tonight

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Chp 154. RIP Jimmy my friend

Saturday night was a sad night for me. My ex-roomie and dear friend Amos (Goldmember / Fadenomore) from Bangalore called me up to deliver the sad news that our very close friend Jimmy F.Lalnunzira is no more.

He died after battling a serious “liver dysfunction” for many months…

I still can’t believe he’s no more… all those laughter and fun we used to share back in Bangalore… I really can’t write anything else for now… the more I think about those good old days, the more I am about to break down…

This video says it all about my friend, my brother-in-arms, my loyal companion. Jimmy F.Lalnunzira.

Rest in Peace brother. All those nights we used to head-bang in your little room together listening to Metal music and one of the best guitarists I have ever known, how we used to endlessly debate about Gothic music and your stubborn attitude about us Gothic lovers that we don’t know how to play the lead guitar, those many times you watched my back and I watched yours while failing to “score” for the umpteenth time, having our own code-word for “beer” so that your sister Emily won’t know we were sneaking them into your room without her knowledge, how you would crack up and lighten up the entire room with your unique sense of humor, how I would help you with so many things that you don’t want Emily to find out, and how I would help Emily with so many things that she doesn’t want you to find out, alas how ironic! Those secrets from both sides are now locked forever.

Bro, I will cherish all those memories forever.

My utmost condolences to Emily who is beyond any grief as of now… Back in Bangalore, they were always “Emily and Jim”. I have never known any siblings more inseparable than the two of them. I cannot even imagine the tremendous pain Emily must be going through right now…

Rest in peace, my brother. All my prayers are with you and your family…

Monday, November 05, 2007

Chp 153. In search of Hmar Identity – A critique.

This Saturday was a good experience for me. I went to the Book release function held at JNU Campus by Prof Lal Dena in memory of his son, the late Isaac L.Hmar.

I still remember that fateful night writing down my personal obituary for Isaac when I heard about his sad demise. Since then, I’ve been in regular contact with his sister settling in France - Linda Haas.

I never knew Isaac personally, but I used to read a lot of his online articles and we even took part in a couple of good discussions together during the good ol’ days of 2004-05. His death dealt a heavy blow to his family, the entire Hmar community, and his ardent fans --- people like me.

Hence it was only natural and obligatory of me to make sure I do not miss the function that was held in his memory, especially when Linda herself called me up personally a couple of times to make sure I was there.

It was a book release function - “In search of Identity: Hmars of North-east India”. I confess I was dreading to go to the function till the very last minute because all my close friends who speak Mizo (duhlian dialect) were either busy with work or at the DMZP Sports function held at that same time. Fortunately, in the eleventh hour, my good friend Tawia (Zorema)’s work got cancelled and he was free to accompany me to JNU.

So I stepped inside JNU for the first time in my life. The sheer size alone was quite impressive. The various ongoing processions and demonstrations held by various Student Political organizations were even more impressive. Back in South India, any such activities usually result in a suspension of the entire Student Union leaders or “black-listing” the particular students involved in the strike, or both. I have heard many stories about how powerful the Student Union is in the North, but this was the first time I was actually seeing it with my own eyes.

Through the midst of different crowds shouting “zindabaad” and “murdabaad”, we finally reached our destination: SSS-1 auditorium. Tawia introduced me to Mr.David Buhril, a man whose writing I truly admire. Tawia spent the next few minutes telling me the who’s who of all the prominent people who came that day – Prof Lal Dena, Pu L.Keivom, his wife, David’s brother, Hmar singers, Hmar millionaire, JNU professors etc etc. I was sure glad it was Tawia I went with that day.

Finally Linda stepped in and recognized me immediately. She was much taller than I expected. Also met Lal for the first time. Very nice people indeed, I felt very much at home in spite of everybody talking in hmar, a language that I do not understand.

Now time for some critiques. This is by no means any kind of unconstructive criticisms, but simply rather a review of the entire function. First of all, I was quite disappointed in the way Mr. David Buhril conducted the entire program. I found it a tad wee “mechanical”… there were barely any emotions in the way he conducted the entire proceedings. It was like living in a robotic age, if you know what I mean. David Buhril, a truly prominent writer from the NE and one of my role models and inspirations, suddenly somehow doesn’t fit the role of my ideal MC. But other than that, I still admire him for his writings.

My other criticism would be the language factor. I criticized my own community before too, back in Bangalore during the MSA (Bangalore Mizo Students Association) Chapchar Kut Nite (Mizo Nite). When we invite people of different ethnicities who speak different languages to our functions promising them that the medium used would be English, it would be best in everyone’s interest to stick to that promise.

At that Bangalore Mizo Nite function, I proudly took 12 of my non-Mizo friends to the function when my Mizo friends told me that everything would be in English. The Organization office-bearers were happy because 13 people meant 13x300 bucks = 3900 bucks. But during the function, the Chief Guest and the other speakers all spoke for hours in Mizo, making it really uncomfortable for those who don’t understand Mizo. I was extremely embarrassed too. Ok fine, it is “Mizo Nite” and they want the function to be in Mizo. Fine. But why lie to us by saying it would be in English so that we would invite our non-Mizo friends? Had my friends known it was going to be in Mizo, none of them would have come in the first place and “wasted” 3900 rupees just to listen to a language they don’t understand.

We left halfway through the function. My non-Mizo friends were polite enough not to criticize the event in front of me, but I could feel it from their tone about how they really felt… the same way I wouldn’t walk into a Marathi-medium function or a Telegu-medium function in the first place, unless it was really necessary to go. Sure everybody has the right to conduct their own function in their own mother tongue, but at least there should be a certain amount of courtesy to inform the guests who speak different languages about the medium beforehand.

Likewise, I was assured earlier that the particular Hmar function would be in English. Apart from it being Isaac's memorial and the book release occasion, I was also really looking forward to the speech by the legendary Pu L.Keivom. Yet, Mr. L.Keivom and all the other speakers (except for one Manipuri Professor) all spoke in Hmar. Lal was extremely nice enough to switch seats in the middle of the speech to sit by my side and translate everything to duhlian dialect for me. You rock, dude.

Of course even if I was told earlier that the function would be in Hmar, I would have still attended, for dear Isaac’s sake. But when I was told that it would be in English and it turned out to be not, a certain element of disappointment took over my mood, which would have never occurred had I known it would be in Hmar from the very beginning.

I found the prayer service conducted by Pastor Lalditsak the most uncomfortable, because I found myself opening my eyes every now and then in the middle of the prayer whenever somebody uttered “amen”, as I had no idea if he finished praying or not…

I really don’t know what’s wrong with me. Many of my friends tell me Mizo (duhlian) and Hmar are very similar. Yet I was struggling to understand the language. I don’t know how my other Mizo friends do it. From a typical 2 minute speech, I could understand just 5-10 percent of it But like I mentioned before, even though I didn’t understand the language, I felt very much at home. The way people smiled at me, greeted me, beckoned me, treated me, the connection, the bonhomie, the fraternity, the understanding, it was all abundant everywhere.

Over all, it was a great function. Linda gave an excellent speech about the book and her late brother. After the function, I immediately bought a copy, which cost a cool 700 bucks. But it was worth it because I ended up getting a personal signature from the author himself, Prof Lal Dena, and another signed autograph from Ms. Linda.

Here is a content of the book “In search of identity – Hmars of North East” by Prof Lal Dena:
Part – I
In Search Of Identity
  1. Introduction
  2. Original Home
  3. Social and Political Institutions
  4. The Status of Mizo (Hmar) women through the ages
  5. The coming of Christianity
  6. Patterns of leadership
  7. Hmar Literature: Its Growth and Development.
  8. Hmars and Indo-Japanese soldiers in Khuga Valley, 1944.
  9. Mizo Integration Movement (1946-1950)
  10. Hmars in Conflict Situations
  11. Search for Identity
Part – II
Problems and Issues
  1. Marginalization of the Hill people
  2. Tribalizism or Detribalization
  3. Tipaimukh High Dam and the question of our survival
  4. AMCO’s peace efforts during the Kuki-Naga conflict, 1992-1994.
  5. Roots of alienation of North East India
I will read the book later when I have more free time, for I would not like to keep the book down once I start reading it. As of now, I cannot afford to do that. Meanwhile my friend “Pu Hruaia from Hyderabad University has asked me to get a copy of the book for him. Author of articles such as “Duhlian: Marker of Mizo Identity” and “Revealing the Marginalization of North-East”, it would be interesting to read his review and perspective on this prolific book.

I will end this post with a sweet poem by Linda, posted at as a tribute to her beloved brother Isaac L.Hmar:
Pay Tribute to Loved Ones
- Linda Mawi Haas, November 30, 2006

If you want to make me happy,
Don’t say a word against my loved one.
If you want to please me,
See that his memory is respected.

Go there and pay a tribute,
It’s just a tiny place, where our world collapse,
That’s where my beloved lies;
Tell him of the latest news, of your life,
And tell him that I love and miss him.

If you want my tears to stop,
Let us unite in solidarity against evil,
So innocents blood will shed no more;
Let us honour the memories of innocence.

If you don’t want to hurt me,
Say no more, your words are like knive cuts.
I don’t want empty false words,
I’d rather bear this pain alone.

Let’s pay tribute to our loved ones,
Whose lives were drastically taken away,
Whose hopes and future crushed by evil;
Leaving behind many hearts that still weeps.

So if you happen to pass by,
By my beloved’s mortal resting place,
Scatter few flowers;
And remember his humours and smiles.

Sleep well, Isaac.