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Day 92: Longwa to Digboi

Longwa, Nagaland and Assam 
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Shingwong translates the words of the chief, on my right, as we talk to him in his hut. This picture has a distinctly period flavour. Hard to believe from the look of the place that most of them are baptized Christians.
Michael Palin - HimalayaAfter the rains, the dirt road out of Longwa is heavy-going. We're in reconditioned Second World War jeeps. Comfort is sacrificed for nimbleness and they're alarming but agile on the slippery stuff. Our driver puts on a dusty cassette of Beatles hits. 'Help!' could have been written for this trip.

Shingwong's daughter, Pang Nou, shares the car with me. She's just completed a Master's degree in English Literature at Delhi. Her theses were on Plato's Concept of Love and the Book of Job. She tells me that, though in Delhi she felt her homeland seemed unbelievably far away, the Indian government is taking Nagaland very seriously. The roads are free, they pay no tax and the benign attitude to local culture is all part of the greater worry that Nagaland might fall into the clutches of the hated enemy on the other side of the border. Not Myanmar, but China.

After some 40 miles, the town of Mon appears like the new Jerusalem on a hill ahead of us, its Baptist church perhaps the largest and longest of the great white mini-cathedrals that rise above the palm and thatched terraces of the Naga Hills.

Our jeep, which has skated through the mud so athletically up to now, slithers to a halt at the last quagmire and we take a while to get started again. Our driver, chewing on the betel with grim determination, does his best to make up time, narrowly avoiding an 'After Whiskey Driving Risky' sign, but by the time we reach the church, the service we've come to film has long begun.
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  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 92: Longwa to Digboi
  • Country/sea: India
  • Place: Longwa
  • Book page no: 215

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