Written by our fellow, Akankshah who is working closely with our field partner WSDS in Aizawl, Mizoram. I have always lived in plains in different states of the country and never realized how different life could actually be when you live in hills. Like every other city dweller, I have gone to the Himalayas and the Nilgirs for long holidays but never stayed long enough to live like a local.Coming to northeast was one of the top priorities in my life’s to do list and I was elated to come to Aizawl. The first glimpses of Aizawl were from the plane descending at Lengpui airport, which was nothing but a strip of land cleared between thickly covered forests. The greenery and the hills looked remarkable and untouched. The city was about an hour away from the airport and the drive seemed like driving through a forest with small villages and shops by the road side.[caption id="attachment_1466" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Sunrise in the hills, Aizawl[/caption]The city was quite big, from a distance it seemed like three -four hillocks have been neatly covered with small matchboxes all over. And as we drove in to the city the long queue of white and yellow (Maruti-800) taxis, fancy motorbikes and other two wheeler's, the big shops and countless pedestrians added to the hustle- bustle.My NGO WSDS (Weaker Section Development Society) had arranged for my stay in a PG accommodation for girls. Most of the girls here are either going to the school or studying in college. My room-mate had also moved in the same day and was extremely sad because her mother had sent her to the hostel to live in a stricter environment to study before her board exams. It was difficult for me to communicate because she was speaking in Mizo 90% of the times. Thankfully that attracted a lot of other girls to our room who calmed her down. Five days down the line I see her all happy and cheerful spending most of the time with those girls and enjoying her hostel life.When I was paying for the hostel fees, the warden translated all the twenty-something rules for me. The most shocking was that the gates of the hostel will close by 1730 hours and the meals will be served at 0800 hours and 1700 hours. That meant that the dinner timings were at 5 in the evening. I had been warned that people rise up early and go to bed early but the thought of having dinner this early was a little difficult to digest. So the next day I wake up at 5 to see the sun well above the horizon and peeping into my window. By breakfast time I was hungry and was surprised to see rice and dal and vegetables being served. Later I was told that across north-east it is a culture to eat only twice a day, once early in the morning before leaving for work and once after coming back from work, soon after sunset. For first two days I felt really hungry during lunch hours but now slowly I am getting used to it.In the past five days I have not ventured out much in the city but roamed about in the residential areas. Most of the houses and shops are made of wooden structures. The pillars may be of wood or concrete, which rest on the slope of steep hills and the walls are mostly made of wood. The sloping roofs made of asbestos sheet generally are connected to a drainage pipes which store water for rainwater harvesting. This is the dry season in the hills when water is short in supply; otherwise in the rains most of the houses are self-sufficient. Even in the hostel we wash our utensils in just two buckets of water rather than using running water. Another interesting thing I noticed was that unlike adding floors at the top of one’s house the floors are added down below in the basement area along the slopes. They get ample amount of sunlight through the day. Also, I was told that every man living in the hills wants his house to be at the top of the hills because that is where one would find sunshine through the day.I see women of all ages doing some business or the other in the city from selling vegetables to used clothes to cosmetics, etc. Everyone tells me that it’s important to work sincerely throughout the week and go to the Church and rest on Sundays. I am getting used to life in Aizawl now and also trying to pick up few words in Mizo now, like “ Kalawme” which means thank you and “Tilpalh” which means sorry.I hope to visit the borrowers in nearby villages soon and see how they are expanding their businesses.
Early to bed early to rise makes a Mizo, hardworking, healthy and bright