A plan is deciding on and making arrangements for in advance. Well, that never works out for me.... Since one of our partners (WSDS) from Imphal, Manipur had come to Mizoram on duty, I took this opportunity to travel and meet our clients in Imphal by road with him. Road trips are always fun and such an experience especially in the northeast of India, so I was really excited about this one in particular. I was told that the Kut Festival would be happening in Imphal on the 1st of November so I thought it would be delightful to witness it. I have never been to Imphal and this was a really good opportunity for me to get to know about the place from where many of my friends come from as well as meeting our clients there. I made a last minute plan on the 29th of October and booked our tickets till Churachandpur in Manipur for the 30th of October as I wanted to reach Imphal in time for the Kut Festival. From Churachandpur, we were to take a bus which would take us to Imphal where WSDS headquarters is located.On a thursday morning, we hired a taxi to drop our partner, Lalcha and I to the Sumo counter at 9 a.m and we left for Imphal within half an hour. We started off our journey with our driver saying a little prayer so that we have a safe trip. We were accompanied by another sumo who was our driver’s friend. We stopped at a restaurant for lunch at 12 noon which had one of the best beef fried rice I had ever eaten. The rice had been mixed with local sticky rice which gave it a really nice chewy texture and made it really tasty. It also came along with a bowl of mouth watering beef soup and chutney. All the passengers ate to out heart’s content as we knew that we would be eating our next meal late at night.[caption id="attachment_5868" align="aligncenter" width="750"] Sticky beef fried rice.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_5870" align="aligncenter" width="732"] Freshly picked fruits for sale.[/caption]We continued our journey with our driver blasting Mizo songs on his stereo. At one particular check point in Mizoram, the excise and narcotics workers on duty had stopped our driver and his friend, making an issue about them carrying too much luggage. I noticed one of the officers in charge was so drunk that he could barely keep his eyes open which is not uncommon. Our driver’s friend landed up paying some amount of money to let us through the check gate. We had dinner at 8 p.m at a place which had a really beautiful view which made up for the bland food. Just when I was about to take a nap, our driver told me to keep my head up as we had just reached the Mizoram and Manipur boarder at 10.50 p.m. After crossing over the bridge that leads to Manipur, there was no road and I thought we were heading towards the jungle. There was barely any trace of a road as it had almost been covered by wild bushes and trees. Our driver warned us to roll up all our windows in case any leeches get in. The road crosses forests, mountains and everything in between. It is unpaved and most of it is little more than mud, dirt and rock, winding along dangerous precipices with no railings or guard rails. I couldn’t even take a video as they all turned out blurry and dark.[caption id="attachment_5872" align="aligncenter" width="682"] The gruelling stretch of muddy roads. To go or not to go.[/caption] At 11.44 p.m. we reached a muddy stretch of road which had enormous potholes and slippery slopes. Since the Sumo in front of us had so many luggages, the passengers decided to walk out one particular part as they feared that they would get stuck. Even some of our passengers got off as they feared that our Sumo might topple over. Luckily we managed to drive through safely, while an old couple who had decided to walk it out slipped and got covered in mud. We finally reached Singzawl at 12.30 a.m where we were supposed to spend the night. They didn’t have electricity and I couldn’t even make out what the hotel really looked like. All I could make out was that it was a rickety old structure made of wood and looked more like a haunted house. I immediately washed up and chose a room which I shared with two of the female passengers. I was too tired to even think about the hard bed or cold breeze blowing through the cracks on the wall. I slept with my jacket and hood on to protect me from the bed and the cold. I was woken up at 5 a.m. to get ready to leave. It was only in the morning that I got to learn that the hotel we stayed in was called Hotel Galaxy Order. Hahaha...[caption id="attachment_5873" align="aligncenter" width="700"] We still have a long long way to go.[/caption]On the way, we had to make two stops as the other vehicle accompanying us had to change both wheels because of the weight it was carrying and because of the gruelling terrain. We all started laughing because we realised that despite their luggage being heavy even the passengers including their driver were all over weight. I tried my best to sleep as much as possible in order to avoid being conscious about my aching back and bottom. One of our back tires finally gave in which we changed when we had lunch. I was sure we would never reach Churachandpur in time to catch a bus to Imphal. We finally reached Churachandpur at 7 p.m. and was greeted by Lilim, who is the Head in charge of WSDS in the Churachandpur branch. As it was too late to take a bus, Lilim made arrangements for us to hire a taxi to Imphal which is another 1 and a half hour journey. I refused to stay at Churanchandpur as I just wanted to reach my actual destination so that I could settle in properly. I regained all my energy on the way to Imphal, the capital of the state of Manipur. We stopped at Moirang for coffee and Singzu. Moirang is famous for having the best Singzu, which is a Burmese salad and I love it. We finally reached our destination, the WSDS headquarter in Imphal and was warmly greeted by Sir. Mang, Sir. Sei and their family who showed me to my comfortable guest room. After a nice long bath, I had dinner and went straight to bed thinking about the long journey which I will never forget and how grateful I was for this experience and to get to know how tough one can actually become.
The Long And Winding Road: My Journey To Manipur