Couple of days later, we rode off to the district of Wokha, headquarter of the Lotha Nagas and as usual, the distance of 85 kms from Kohima took more time than it logically should and the reason was not the hilly serpentine roads. We could not help but stop and admire nature’s grand display of splendor as the whole valley was awash with the majestic golden rays of the evening sun. Realising that we were getting late we mounted and no sooner we did that, a Jeep with a couple of smart young men in it, flagged us down. They were very friendly and polite but they asked all sort of questions and we realized they belonged to one of the underground organizations. They figured out we were rather harmless and invited us to a roadside house for some tea and we duly followed. One of the men was carrying a well-used AK 47 and he was kind enough to show me how it works. I would have to loved to fire it but…
The moon was high by the time we took leave and it is extremely foolish to ride in the hills after sunset. In the Northeast, life comes to a complete halt after sundown and in case of a mishap or a breakdown, you won’t find a soul for miles on end.
As if to prove the theory right, Anuj had a puncture in the rear tyre (he almost spelcialises on it!). Since we carried a complete puncture kit we got the bike up and running in about 45 minutes. As we rolled a smoke, we realized that not a single vehicle crossed us all this time and the only living thing we had for company were the crickets and the sporadic call of jackals far away.
Wokha has precious few hotels and so we stayed in the village of Longsa. Village stays are always better and for us motorcyclists, who always seem to travel on shoestring budget, it is the best possible option. It is cheap, good and interesting too. In Longsa, there were two elderly gentlemen who fought on opposite sides during the WW II. One had the war medals earned with the INA and the other man had medals awarded by the British army. And they had amazing tales to tell.
In the winters, there is severe water shortage in most places in Nagaland and we had to trek three kms downhill to get water from a stream. It is backbreaking work and after the first day, we switched on our dry cleaning mode. Winters meant we didn’t need to bath regularly. We sure smelled awful but there were no ladies on the rear seat, so no worry.
Nagas are very good marksmen and hunting runs in their blood. We accompanied some villagers on a hunting expedition but excessive hunting has taken its toll and even though we spent two days in the jungle, we had only one wild bore and a few small animals to show. The people have now realized the fact that the animals are fast disappearing and have now imposed some sort of hunting restrictions. But it will be a very long time before the animals return…if ever.
About 29 kms out of Wokha Town on the way to Mokokchung, there is a hydro electricity project run by NEEPCO. There is an old weather-beaten milestone 4 kms out of town that points the way to the project site. The road that branches off the highway had at some point of time been a black topped one but not anymore. Now it is all stone and slush whenever there is rain. And everyday, the overloaded local buses, trucks of the NEEPCO and the security forces are grinding it right back to dust. 29 Kms might seem like a small distance but the going was slow and quite tiresome. We came upon a small clearing about 5 kms from the NEEPCO complex where there were two small huts that sold tea, eatables and fruits. As we entered the first hut, a wonderful sight greeted us. Bang in the middle of the room, inside an empty corrugated box of Pepsi, sat a chubby little girl and keeping her company was a black Drongo bird!