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Since the bridge to the Old Gompa is currently in the river rather an above it, we visited the New Gompa, which was inaugurated in 2003. They’re still building tiny stupas on the approach road and the last house you drive by before you reach the Gompa belongs to the local MLA.

Weather wasn’t sunny and bright but it rained only once throughout the day and the sun peeked in a more than a couple of times.

We also visited this large idol of Buddha in Dorjeeling village. The old lady who let us in was from the Memba tribe and wore a corals and river pearls necklace that I could not take my eyes off. The drive to this location was lovely and different – atleast the road was solid. But apart from that, no big deal on the idol. I did go into rapture looking at the nacklace and tried to trace something similar to purchase in the local market. The largest jewellery store was closed as the owner is on vacation and out of town. A smaller one was open but the lad at the counter had a charming smile but seemed clueless about my enquiries. Subsequently, I also found out that while the cost of one kilogram of silver in Delhi is about INR 33,000, here in Menchukha, jewellery retails at a price where one kilogram of silver would be INR 65,000. WOW.

Everything is more expensive here due to the state taxes and the expense to transport it to this lcoation.

Unable to locate the pearls and coral, eventually a local lady took pity on my forlorn face and told me only the Memba tribe is allowed to wear or trade ( barter ) in coral and the jewellery they wear is made by them by hand and not available for commercial purposes.

I’m thoroughly impressed with the barter culture that continues here in Arunachal Pradesh. “Gaon Budhas” or “village elders” decree that anyone to sells animals in exchange for money, will be punished. It is forbidden to hunt animals for anything except food and they not only eat the flesh and store what’s left over, they don’t leave anything of the animal to throw away – everything gets used in some form or another. I’m divided on whether blogging about this trip and Menchukha might be more of a disservice to these people than useful-publicity. Just because they don’t covet the same things I do, doesn’t mean they need my help. How arrogant does one have to be to believe that bringing in tourism and money to a remote Indain location will be helpful to the locals?!

If a tree falls in the forest but no one seees or hears it, did the tree still fall? Contemplating matters of existence and communication. If I didn’t find out about the goings on the whole wide world via the world wide web, would it truly make any difference to my life? Is information really all that important for contentment and self-satisfaction and inner peace? If someone who is far awya from me died and I didn’t find out about it till many months after, why does that mean that the full force of grief will still hit me only when I find out and not when the person actually dies? Grief is selfish too.

Every hour every day I’m learning more
The more I learn the less I know about before
The less I knowt he more I want to look around
Digging deep for clues on higher ground.

( UB40 Higher Ground )

Post-lunch, spent a couple of hours standing in the grass photographing time-lapse series of how the weather changes in Menchukha. From blue skies to grey overcast within 20 minutes or less. I got stung by whatever’s already stung me earlier. The earlier bites are healing, have turned dark red and eventually will turn black before they turn into scabs and fall off I’ve been told. The fresh bites hurt and will start to itch by tomorrow. I’m irritated. I’m sleeping wearing socks and inner thermal wear AND my jeans tonight. I don’t even know when this insect bit me and hence I’m not well-prepared.

Today’s wardrobe courtesy Nicobar and House of Tuhina.

Got bit two more times by the same goddamn insect. Tomorrow onwards, I will be wearing something that will not even let my socks be visible to this stupid insect.

#EyesForArunachal