Forty two people in 23 motorcycles of Royal Riders Manipur including journalists and doctors set off for a cherished mission of serving the needy. The machine they ride is made for distant driving. The horse power to gear up the uphill and wheels for a smooth roll on every corners and stretch of the 130 kilometre highway to Chassad of Kamjong Sub Division, Ukhrul.
Chassad a small village at the lofty hill is just 37 kilometre away from Indo Myanmar border. Naga, Kuki community, few Meitei families settles there. Nepali immigrants and North Indian traders could be seen around. It has a small market comprising of 20 to 30 shops on either side of the road. There are few wooden hotels for night stays. 44 Assam Rifles stations there, besides a camp of Kuki militants under peace talk, a police station are the gunmen.
Moreover a Burmese restaurant run by two Burmese ladies is a high fi one in the village. It serves noodles, omelette and other stuffs. Four wheeler vehicles could be seen parking outside the wooden restaurant. Perhaps passer-by stops to relish in a Burmese restaurant. The two ladies stay with their brother and run their business since a year back. One lady can speak Manipuri very well. Besides other hotels in the village that serve tea and snacks makes delicious food. The roti (tan) they made are thin and unbelievably yummy. They beat the north Indians in the first bout.
Added to that most of the two wheelers operating in the village are the Burmese bikes costing around 25 to 45 thousand Rupees. I came across a guy from the corner most border town. He packs his goods in his speedy strong Burmese but smaller size bike. He is from the kuki community and runs a grocery shop where he sells all kind of stuffs including pharmaceutical goods. His shopping point is the Chassad Village. The road is bumpy and worst but I have to ride he remarks. He has friends across the border (a village where around fifty Burmese household settles) but seldom visit them. One can see the beautiful and vast Kabow Valley from Chassad. The villagers are very much concern about the border issue nowadays. Every corner where there is a gathering of four or more people the border issue became a main agenda. Curiosity and worries seems to run in their mind. They quote on ‘after kabow valley next comes our slice of territory’. No concrete political commitment is assured so far. In fact the CM and council of ministers are on tour for bilateral ties with the neighbouring Asian countries China, Japan it seems. National papers and magazines have written pages on the issue including the local media and civil society organisation. Yompak lan would be very crude of all the education and modern day political norms much as boiling thoughts crept people’s mind on the border issue along hundreds of kilometres land stretches from Ukhrul to Chandel.
The economy of Chassad is mostly agrarian, and most of the houses are wood built. Farmers have to go a long way for their paddy field at the foot hills. All kinds of vegetables are grown in the farms at the foothills including the staple food rice. Hunting is still in practice. Deer, wild boar, and other animals are the biggest hunt from the dense forest surrounding the village. Charcoal business too thrives well here.
Cooking Gas stocks with home delivery service centre from Indane is available however people still collects firewood as the region is cold. People loiter around with umbrella to protect from the drizzling fog. Well on the day we reach it was all fog and the free medical camp was conducted despite heavy rain for hours in the community hall of Chassad where around 250 patients turn up. Three doctors attended the patients and free medicines were given away with additional medicine if needed to be borne by the patients as the doctors prescribed them. People from surrounding villages also came for the medical camp. The villagers approached the riders club for the same camp and RRM responded to it such is the process. Well a child was detected of holes in the heart during the free medical camp. Some other serious ailment were also detected to two three individuals and they are referred to hospitals for further treatment by the doctors.
The organisers are well appreciated by the people who came for the free medical camp. Aged people children, newly married couples, youths came for the health check-up and treatment. Well the volunteers have assisted well to the camp unloaded the medicines. Patient registry, serial number intake, medicine box, hospitality take on for the waiting individuals for health check-up.
It is the September end and you are not able to recognise a person 10 feet away, so thick is the fog. But as one wake up children are seen playing on the parked Enfield Motorcycles in the green field and they were not wearing any warm clothes like a jacket or a woollen pullover. Wonder struck but they are very friendly and it seems they enjoy playing with their dream bike. The village was alerted of the invading motorcycles in good will health camp as the buzzing sound of the bikes proves to be a drum beat news in the deep forest where phantom once exist.
The flowers found in the village are very colourful. People use to decorate their house with small flower pots circled around with colourful bloom. Spring water streams is being tapped and stored in reservoirs for pipeline distribution. Villagers informed that in earlier time they have to spend time and labour fetching water but the pipeline developed couple of years back had make things more convenient and people are using abundant water for their daily house hold chores. No chlorine and crystal clear water flowing round the clock seems just an amazing nature’s bounty.
People are friendly and laborious here. Saktiman trucks could be seen parked on the roadsides perhaps they fetch woods from the border and unload them. Well trucks are the best friends of the hills as they are multipurpose and good in the uphill drive.There are churches in short distances.
About the ride to Kamjong the day was rainy. Reaching Sawombung of Imphal East, heavy shower halted the bikers as they start of from Langol Head Office of RRM after a brief reminder on conducts and safety. With raincoats the momentum was regained and it never stopped until some check posts. Stoppage at Litan for lunch. Stoppage at Ramva, Sanshak and Kamjong AR post for registry on the details of the motorcycles like registration number and number of people riding with destination and purpose. In the quite hills the sounds from the Royal Enfield was quite a free ear as one stop by for a rest watching the fellow riders picking up.
Organised ride with the mechanic rider riding at the last to look after any break down and experienced riders taking the forefront especially when it rained and when fog covered the highway. The members of Royal Riders had a much organised day running around in teams while some cook meal in the set up kitchen others run around for ration. While some assist the doctors and coordinate the gathering, others interact with the village authority. The night before the medical camp was a quick set up of tents and sleeping arrangement. The next day was an eventful one. The riders came back with an accomplish mission. The people of Kamjong are hospitable and friendly. They love to drink a Burmese tea mixed with plain water and most of the shop keeps stock of the tea.
Added to adventure the medic al camp had background music of bombs and gunshots at the border between militants and the Assam Rifles. Well the return journey was a smooth ride in the fog, as the team reach Sanshak fogs disappeared. Reaching Khurai dust replaced the fog and it disappeared at the Langol area where the riders had a grand reception.