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Day 91: Longwa

Longwa, Nagaland and Assam 
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Past and the future, Part 2. Pre-Christian tribal dances go on in front of Longwa's newly built Baptist Church.
Michael Palin - HimalayaIn the afternoon the arena is cleared and football posts are put up for a game between Longwa and Khemoi, a village in Myanmar. As there are no official games between the two countries, this is the closest there is to an India v Myanmar international. Despite a hard-fought first half, the Blues of India pip the Reds of Myanmar 8-2 and, to add insult to injury, the defeated team from Khemoi has a two and a half-hour walk home.

In the evening I have an opportunity to see inside the chief's house. He's agreed to be interviewed, and, armed with a bottle of rum as a present, I clamber through an entrance at one end. It is a cavernous space inside, like being in the upturned hull of some great ship. As there is hardly any natural light coming in, the soaring height of the roof is lost in gloom. I find myself in a long chamber, empty save for two huge, hollowed-out tree trunks, which Shingwong says are war-canoes, and an aircraft seat, which they say came from a bomber shot down in the war. The Nagas are proud of the fact that they saved nine Allied airmen.

In the heart of the house, the chief sits at the centre of a semicircle of elders, an impressive number of brass heads hanging on their chests. A fire blazes. Above it hang various trophies, animal skulls and horns, and a number of ceremonial gongs.
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  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 91: Longwa
  • Country/sea: India
  • Place: Longwa
  • Book page no: 214

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