What do I remember of my stay at Paomata, the short refreshing trip to Paomata and Dzukou valley?
As I trace my mind back, first and foremost the bumpy ride through the hills towards Paomata.
And the hazy dusty roads (Manipur is synonymous with such dusty roads)
The bunch of Yongchak I saw along the road on our way to and from the village.
The playful breeze kissing my cheeks outside the old quarter room
And the pine tree forest view from the verandah of the quarter
Those stray dogs running around guarding doors and houses.
Fresh colorful flowers.
A woman soon to go into labour.
Talks about haunted stories of the PHC on long cold nights.
Giggles and laughter and more of them.
Children playing football in the hilly grounds.
Two siblings hastily climbing a flight of stairs towards their front door.
The chai in a candle lit room served by sister Benny and her family.
The warm woolen blankets in the candle lit room and how we fought among ourselves for the most cozy bed for the cold night.
A god sent bunch of wonderful company to be thankful for.
The lovely people of the hills greeting us on our arrival at Paomata.
The delicious sumptuous dinner in the cold night oh I wont forget the pork and cat fish cooked by them on our arrival.
Merymaking and photo sessions while packing breakfast and lunch for the next day trek to dzukou Valley.
The short breathtaking trek to the pine forest view point. The empty roads and fields on our way to the top.
The mao viewpoint and talks of having dinner at Mao on our return from Dzukou.
The conversations and laughter at the helipad view point.
The long day trek to Dzukou Valley where dreams came true.
The dry dzukou lilies I brought back from the valley still wrapped in newspaper and carefully tucked in some corner of my room
The chai and maggi we had that night after our return from the valley of dreams
The puri sabzi breakfast we had on our way back
The flowers we bought from some nearby village (Not long ago my mum told me they were budding and that just made my day)
And not having showered for two nights in the entire trip 😛 How’s that? 😀
Reason : There was a shortage of water so much so that we didn’t have enough water to wash our dishes. Also someone had to fetch the water a few kilometers away from where we stayed and it was ice cold. We somehow managed.
The day – It was 17th March 2016. I remember there was a power cut that cold evening.
And we all made ourselves comfortable in one of the candle lit cozy little rooms of Sister Benny’s home, the home we ran into that memorable trip, the home that emanated warmth much like her heart.
The boys can sleep here after dinner and you girls can sleep there in the quarter peacefully, She told us that evening.
She also offered us some snacks along with the hot tea to our utter delight as it was starting to get colder and colder and the temperatures were dropping and the evening was turning pitch dark rather too quickly.
Moments before she walked into the room, we were all busy quarreling about who gets to sleep under the pile of blankets on the warm cozy bed in the room.
Like school children alerting themselves and hushing each other when a teacher enters the classroom, the noise slowly subsided as Sister Benny and her husband made their way to the room.
I wondered “how generous of them to offer their beds to a bunch of complete strangers”
I,for one, thought that back in our Imphal Valley, no parents would offer some unknown boys to crawl into their comfy beds much more so if they had grown up girls or children in their homes.
But then we all were brought up under the wrath of the Armed forces special powers act where Army men broke into homes taking away our precious belongings in the name of combing operations and the likes.
Our valley, where every child was taught to answer “NO our parents aren’t at home” to unknown men who would often barge into homes without permission and ask for a stay at night. Our valley, where every child grew up synonymous with words like tear gas and curfews and combing operation.
Well we still live in that world with AFSPA still hovering over our heads.
The people in the hills are kind I thought.
I was glad to have finally put into execution our month long plan of trekking the Dzukou valley and more so for having met such wonderful people in our journey.
The night grew darker until we could see no more and it was time to go back.
We sorted out our plans for trekking the next day to Dzukou Valley with Sister Benny and headed back to Dipa’s quarter (our doctor friend who made this trip possible)
I thought how quickly the day turned pitch dark and how much little time I had, to capture some moments I wanted to from the hills, as I followed my friends back to the room in the quarter in which we were sleeping that night.
Earlier that same evening, we had trekked to a sunset view point through scenic roads and pine trees, had enjoyed a view of Mao while continuously laughing and giggling and listening to our echoing sounds and had shared some light moments at the helipad on our way back to the village.
I remember that everywhere i turned to, the smell of fresh air and the beauty of the unending expansion of roads and forests and hills left me spellbound and I was lost for words so much so that this Pink Floyd song now reminds me of Paomata every time I listen to it.
Don’t we all love moments as such? Moments that dwarf us, moments that make us grateful for our existence?
We made our way back to the quarter and prepared ourselves for the long day ahead – the day trek to Dzukou while spending one of the coldest nights in March 2016 atop a hill far away from the valley we call home in the company of some of the most treasured bunch who wouldn’t make you sleep without endless gossip and laughter and in whose company you wouldn’t realize falling into a deep slumber all at once.
The next day we walked on a dream, the Dzukou valley and had the time of our lives driving through the hills of Nagaland and trekking to the valley and back.
More than anything that I’m grateful for in the entire trip, our stay at Paomata is something I’m grateful for far beyond words. It was the perfect silver lining to our Dzukou dreams.
I wanted to explore every hidden corner of the village, capture the daily life of the good souls in the lively far away village, enjoy some more view points through pine trees from a higher ground level than we were the first evening, have more conversations, laugh some more heartily and eat a lot more generously.
But I had to bid goodbye with the hope of coming back another time, another season, in the hope of making another trip, in another year.
While two of them from the group have already camped at Dzukou, the rest of us still live with memories of those three beautiful days in the hills.
I plan to make another visit if time permits. But until then, these moments that stay entched in me forever, these moments captured in my camera.
I leave you with pictures of our stay in the lovely little village of Paomata.
A little info about Paomata : Tucked away in a corner about 112 kms away from Imphal, this rural region of Manipur, comes under the Senapati district and has about 20 villages under it.
How to reach from Imphal : Buses go regularly from Imphal valley to Senapati district. You may reach the village via the same buses that go to Senapati and then take the vehicles that take you to Paomata from where the Senapati buses stop.
There’s something about far away non – touristy lands that I can’t just put in words. The next time, try exploring some hidden unexplored gem just as we did and found home in the tucked away corners of the lovely little Village of Paomata 🙂