It was in the cold breezing month of December, 2007, the time which I just came back from Delhi. After confining far away from home for many years, I was striving for a quantum leap in my life. It was the period where I was searching for a new job, wanting to start a new life, a new beginning. May be with all this anticipation and speculation, I must say this particular month was the most memorable month in the journey of my life.
On one fine day, the “Poknafam”, one of the leading daily newspapers of the State carried out an advertisement for recruitment of reporter. At first, I was little worried thinking whether I should take part in the test or not. As I was interested in media field since childhood, I took part in the interview and I got selected. From January 10, 2008 I started working for the esteemed newspaper with a new state of mind.
The “Poknafam’ daily newspaper is the most circulated newspaper of the State with massive staffs. Located at Keishampat, the office is divided into different sections namely- reporter, DTP, advertisement, machine man, helper etc. Its branch office situated at Paona bazar also constituted management and other staffs. The newspaper is popular for its dedication and long serving constituting many renowned journalists. Initially, when I landed into the office I was surprised and thrilled by its huge staffs and media’s atmosphere.
Just after joining the work, I was assigned for reporting including far flung places and started covering pick-up programmes. To my surprised, I also encountered several reporters of the newspaper who does not want to travel to far places for reporting. But I, as a reporter considered such kind of works as very adventurous and challenging which I long to serve with full zest and dedication.
Though a sum of fear psychosis prevails when it comes in travelling hilly areas even to journalists due to volatile law and order problem in the State, there was no fear inflicted on me. Instead, I was enthralled thinking that I have got an opportunity to explore its uncovered beauties in those areas. Contradicting thoughts of many people, I find solace in such kind of places.
Resulting from the assigned tasks, I was able to experience never seen places, people, culture, tradition, food etc. Their food products as known by others contain no impurities or added organic substances and are considered containing high nutritional value. For this, sometimes I used to ask myself why I should hesitate in visiting those places. And, so the answer lies in exploring such places.
My first assigned reporting after joining the newspaper was to “Thalon” village in Tamenglong district. It is situated 185 km away from Imphal city and 30 km from Tamenglong district headquarters. I still remembered that very joyful and memorable journey freshly. That was in a 3-day free medical camp programme organized by “Mapi council’ held on March 8-10, 2008.
For the coverage, I was accompanied by Vipun Sen (Ireibak), Sanathoi (Yakairol) and M.C. Arun (ISTV). Notably, the most memorable part of the journey was in encountering “Nobap wine”, a fermented wine extracted from the Nobap fruit. Apart from this, the folk tale story of the Zeliangrong tribe of the village and relationship story between “Thalon cave” and Meitei Kings moved me.
Prior to the journey, one of my friend from Uripok which I had worked with him as data entry operators during the 5th National Games held in 1999 had narrated to me about the “Thalon cave”. Since then, I was longing to visit the village thinking about its rich history and other information associated with it.
According to data reports, Thalon cave is located 910 metre above sea level. The distance between the cave and village is about 4 km and it takes 1 hour if travel by foot. It is said that the then king Maharaj Buddhachandra had visited the cave in 1946. There is also a sacred pond near the cave which is believed to have left by the then king during his expedition to the place.
The Thanlon tour was my second trip to the Tamenglong district. Earlier, I had visited the district as part of a press tour organized by DIPR when I was working in “Mannaba” newspaper. Vividly, I still remember that scenic beauty along the Khongsang-Tamenglong road (NH-53), captivating greenery sites and its fresh environment.
For this time visit also, I was fully excited and prepared as the place was somehow familiar to me. As the journey started, we came across Noney, then Khongsang and reached the road that connect Tamenglong headquarters. And, I started noticing all those aesthetic sites and was still beautiful as before. The journey took me in a state of mind where I was thinking that all my suffering and pain have vanished after coming across all those natural beauties. Just after reaching the district headquarters, we were waiting for villagers of Thanlon to come. As they turn up, we was accorded warm welcome and headed for Thanlon along with the villagers. As expected by everyone, we reached the village at late dusk.
During the visit, some of the colleagues expressed fear and uncomfortable in travelling to the village especially along the 30 km long Tamenglong-Thanlon stretch. According to me, they are thinking too much about the bad and deplorable condition of the road and looking at their expression I felt pity for them. One incident that strikes me during the journey is that one of the colleagues requested to halt the vehicle for a while as he was experiencing nature called. On hearing his request, some of the colleagues made fun out of it thinking that he was not serious. As he was really disturbed, the vehicle was halted after I requested for it. Such was the experience of the journey.
To be continued… (Translated by Rakesh Lourembam, Manipur Times)