It was 1st of July and my boss had been calling me up, insisting me to submit my report on field visit to various schools. I had almost completed my school inspections except for 2 and I knew I was going to be the first and most probably the only one who will be submitting this report as according to my colleagues it is not of much importance and they have better things to do rather than roam in the fields. Well, my thinking is different, I actually love going to the fields, talking to the students, teachers, headmasters. I love listening to their small issues which if I can, I solve it at the instance or maybe submit a concrete report to my bosses who sometime take up necessary actions or literally tend to forget some issues, well you know how boss can be..:)
Well, it seems I am drifting away from the topic but this is me, I just love talking, give me a topic and I can speak on it for hours, like those extempore speech. Anyway now let me begin the very thing that I have wanted to share with you friends for the last so many days. The 2 school that I haven’t visited yet situated in a very far away town of Manipur call Andro. And that day I intended to finish my field visit so I planned to go to Andro with some of my District Officials. It was going to be my second visit to Andro, last time I went there to conduct a streetplay with the famous Nokphadey party. I wasn’t able to explore the place but I had a tea which cost just 2 Rupees. I knew today was going to be different as I had only two schools to visit with mush lesser number of companions which includes one lady special teacher, one District coordinator and one male special teacher. I borrowed my Dad’s car for the day and we were off at 8 o’clock in the morning towards the famous town of Andro.
We drove for about 10 minutes and we crossed the beautiful Irilbung Bridge, the hills in front of the bridge looks mesmerizing, it looked so near, and I could see the roots of the trees on the hills. After crossing the bridge we drove towards the famous ngariyan hills. The road was smooth, thanks to Andro MLA. People who live or has visited hills will know the difficulty in driving on a hilly road, so many blind turns, the steepness and the speed of the other vehicles but thank God that day I wasn’t driving. Besides praying to god to make me land in Andro safely I just can’t help admiring the scenery, the valley was quite a site when looked down from a height of some thousands ft above the sea level. After about 10 minutes of drive the roads became narrower and what I can see was only heavy populated bushes in both sides of the road. Most of the plants grown there were eucalyptus, teak, castor, banana, some tall grasses, pine trees and bamboos. I could see 2-3 Bees hive on some trees. My dad once told me that a man died few years ago on this road, he met a swarm of bees and was bitten everywhere, he lost control of his steering and met with an accident. It was freaky and It gave me Goosebumps when I remember it, nearby that place we saw a bamboo made thatched roof shed where some old ladies were selling juicy pineapples. My colleagues told me Andro’s pineapples was the best in Manipur and every year they organise pineapple festivals where they sell more than 10,000 pineapples and it’s by products. After a while I saw a certain part of the hill covered by beautiful, fully grown Pine trees and in one clear area some women were selling cane products, handbags, mats, boxes of different size. The places were so quiet and cool, so opposite to my hometown. I felt sad and jealous for a while. After about 5 minutes I saw various yellow colour buildings on a hill top similar to some government quarters, my colleague told me they are constructing a Police Station. It was really depressing to know Guns can reach such a heavenly peaceful place. We reached Andro Lamkhai and from there we turned left for Andro. I could see big trees on the way which seems older than any man walking on the earth at that moment. Andro was plain area but covered with paddy hills, small ponds and streams. The smile on my face returned again after seeing nature’s beauty of such degree. Then we passed a beautiful gate made of bamboo and straw which was standing there to welcome any outsiders in Andro. We stopped in front of a school and when I opened the car door and stepped out, the first thing that greeted me was the smell of the atingba yoo(a local alcohol of which andro is very famous) as I follow the smell, I knew it was coming from the opposite house. A sense of curiosity grew on me and I couldn’t resist checking what was going on at that house. I opened the gate, there was a big dog lying at the courtyard, he seemed asleep, then I saw the room where they were brewing the alcohol, there were pile of woods, many big pots, some of them upside down and cooked rice scattered everywhere. It is rumoured that in Andro, people serve atingba instead of tea to the visitors, and in every ceremony atingba is a main ingredients. I took few more steps and was kinda inspecting the place when suddenly a woman came out and asked me what I want. I told her if they sell the andro pots, she said yes and asked me to come and choose. She showed me around 100s of pots, they were earthen pots but the texture was unique and the shapes were different. I asked her what’s the difference between Andro pot and the ordinary pot, she said they are long lasting and not easily broken. I paid 100 for two big pots and she gave me two small pots free. We left the place and headed straight towards Andro bazaar. On the way I saw many people wearing white dresses and walking on the road, it seemed some family was having a dead ceremony and they have invited the entire population of Andro, we met one of our staff, he was also wearing the ceremonial dress he was quite drunk and it was just 1 pm but he was so happy to see us. We left him and headed straight for the school. When the inspection was over we planned to have a cup of tea but all we can see were meat shops where they sell liquor too. The hotel where I had tea last time was also closed so we bought some juices and chips. The guys wanted to buy the atingba yoo so they went inside a house, one of my friend from Delhi called up when I told her I am in andro she insisted me to have the andro pork which according to her is really good. So I went to one of the meat shop and bought 5 piece for Rs 50. Our work was also over so we thought of just exploring the place for a while before going back. I opened the pork packet and took one bite of the biggest piece and oh my gosh! My mouth is still flooded when I remember the taste. According to my friend the meat was tastier because their animals are always roaming and feeding and their muscles are stronger, well! I don’t give a damn as long as they taste good. Then we visited the famous Andro temple where there is a fire which keeps on burning and will keep on burning forever. I don’t understand, how? According to them it was a sacred place but I think some Gas probably Methane must be emitting from the ground…if so? Then why haven’t anyone proved it. Andro is not so rural. They said the community people provide woods for the fire early in the morning every day. They didn’t allow us to take pictures or peek through the closed temple door but there was something about the place, some kind of energy and I felt it that day. We visited the two huts where they have stored the big pung. Again I wasn’t able to see the pungs but looking at the length of the huts, I was sure it must be a really big pung. Andro citizens accent are different from the Imphal meiteis. But they look so innocent, carefree and happy from the Imphal people. Honestly Andro was growing on me that day. We left Andro at around 3:30, our mind enriched with the sacred knowledge about Andro, its culture and its people. I bought a cane box and some pineapples on my way back home. The box I am using to store my tarot cards and the pineapples I shared with my friends. I am using that small pot which I received free from that lady as a flower vase and I have dropped it from the staircase few times but there was not a single scratch. I am looking forward to my next Andro Trip.