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Mon, 16 Jul 2018

Northeast Today

12 Days in the Northeast

12 Days in the Northeast
December 22
15:19 2017

November Edition, Travel, NET Bureau, Chirasmrita Devi 

George McCormack, a globetrotter from Australia,when couldn’t make it to the Northeast during his first two visits to India in 1978 and 1995 he tried again for the third time at the age of 65 in 2017.Originally from the UK, this Sidney-based brewer touched upon quite a number of places in Northeast including Guwahati, Tawang, Ziro, Hapoli, Mayong etc. during his first visit to the place,which he describes as a “distant crush who you can’t ignore”.

Sighting the One-Horned Rhinos

Often I used to see and read about the one-horned rhinos and in the process I developed a desire to see them for real. After reaching Guwahati, I was a bit pessimistic because I felt it would be impossible to see them because of the flooding. But I was lucky enough toget a view of the Rhinos atPobitora Wildlife Sanctuary, Guwahati. The view was so enchanting that I kept watching them for around 20 minutes. They are iconic!

Landing at Tawang

All my life I had been an atheist, yetI had always been intrigued byTibetan culture and monasteries. My experiences in Ladakh- the Eastern edge of the Tibetan plateau of China- increased my appetite for knowing more about the Tibetan culture. This was one of the major reasons why I wanted to go to Tawang so that I could get a wide and deep glimpse of the culture. The second reason for visiting Tawang was to meet theApatani tribe. I thought of taking a selfie with the Apatani tribe but then hesitated. I felt it will show some sort of disrespect to them as I was full of respect for them.I found their traditional costumes and ornaments very interesting. I spent two nights in Tawang and took an overnight bus from Bomdila to Tezpur. On my way back I was wondering if I was to come back in 5 years time, all those elderly people will be dead and with them that culture will end… (?)

Hiccups on the Way

It took me nearly 13 hours to reach Tawang from Tezpur. I was surprised by the very poor condition of the road between Derrang and Tawang. The Lonely Planet guide alerted me about the road condition hence I was prepared for a rough trip.

People from oversees like me expect to have Wi-Fi, especially because the mobile internet here is a bit unreliable. Surprisingly, in most of the lodges and hotels where I stayed during my visit, didn’t have Wi-Fi facilities.

Again, I feel the Inner Line Permit (ILP) to visit just one single region for a foreign tourist is a bit high here in the Northeast. For example the ILP to visit Arunachal Pradesh alone was 50 American dollars. It’s the same price as shown in Lonely Planet guide. I am not being overcharged nor am I complaining, but, 50 dollars for one small region is a bit much.

On My Plate

To be honest I love Indian food. I am a vegetarian and I feel it’s great to be a vegetarian in India as vegetarian food is available almost everywhere. I would like to add here that the standard of food hygiene has become better since my last visits. There is one common term that people from oversees associate with Indian food and i.e. ‘Delhi Belly’ which means the stomach upset after having Indian food. But, surprisingly, I have spent so much time in the Northeast and tried different types of food yet got no ‘Delhi Belly’!

A Note to Northeast India

I can see a lot of work needed to be done. But I didn’t see a lot of work being done. For the future of tourism in Northeast, I guess people need to sort of present itself or publicise itself. The unique wildlife aspect of this region can be used for the good of the animals, tourist as well as people. The flora and fauna should be treated as assets.

(Special thanks to Sisir for arranging the meeting between George and the Northeast Today)

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