Sunday, 16 November 2008

A homopteran and a pteridophyte breakfast

My field assistant and me had no curry to take along with rice the other day cos’ we left really early (330 am!), so Army (that’s his name!) cut down a Pandanus plant and within each leaf were these stink bugs (Pentatomidae family, Order Homoptera) that he said we could eat, alive and whole! Hmm…at first I hesitated, then put in one, tasted exactly like Cinnamomum, quite good actually, so I had few, no, many more! There’s also another species of the same kind that they find in water below stones, he had brought that too, it was grounded with salt and chillies and he told me that some people are allergic to this bug. So I just tasted a bit, I preferred the cinnamon flavour instead. This is the pic of the bug, so if you find one, pop it in!

The previous field visit too, we had gone into the forest with only rice sprinkled with millets. So my field assistant then (Nyelik) quickly materialised a banana flower and an edible fern plant. This fern is probably called ‘Terimey soppu’ down South, had eaten it before, quite tasty. So after one hour of fire, we had this meal, really yummy!

Foods often a problem in field, so I tend to adjust to what’s available in the plate. Once, just once I ate a roasted collared treepie; although it’s a very common species, I admit I do regret it. Well, that’s that…By the way, saw this beautiful Oak leaf butterfly besides lots of other beauties. Will upload an exclusive butterfly post sometime…

Pasoh – the final cut

This post follows from the post titled ‘the art of selective felling’; is the last of the Malaysia visit travelogues. Wanted to post pics of all of us in the last chapter. The toughest part of the entire course was this; to say goodbye to friends we had never met even just few weeks back. We came together irrespective of religion, country, in some cases language, different sense of humour and what not and we departed as friends for life. We all plan to meet somewhere somehow and travel…but there may not be another pasoh-time with all of us together, probably there need not be…we remember the moments so well forever. 

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Of pigs and men

Before the rice crop is harvested, men from some households in the village slaughter their pigs around the ‘Naamghar’ (marked in the google earth image earlier). I am often referred to in the village as an “Aying” which means a non-tribal. So being an Aying I wasn’t to be present in this feast but later I was given a large slice of meat which I gladly ate.

The next day as I was learning a bit of Adi language from my friend Gekut, I asked him why I saw some pigs in the Egin the toilet whereas others are free-ranging. Oh, by the way, the Adi rear their pigs in enclosure below their home.

So when I asked about these pigs in the Egin and those I see outside, Gekut told me the male pigs are reared in bathrooms. So well, for three to five years all the male pigs have only seen the four walls around them and everyday few pairs of bums above them! Shux, what a life! The pigs that I have seen roaming around the village are all sows with their kids. Well, so I politely asked Gekut why don’t they prefer eating the pigs that roam around and he said “Shee, who will eat that, these pigs roam around everywhere and eat all dirty things, better to eat clean pigs from our own Egin”! This statement is a classic I think I will never forget! And well the other reason for eating only the pigs from the bathroom is that they put on a lot of fat, having not wasted it roaming around the village. Its  a cruel world!

The tale of two dinners and before and after

October-end, I rode a bike from Pasighat to Jenging to Ramsing (about 225 km) with a large rugsack behind me, a laptop bag in the front and a camera bag to the right. Most people must have thought I am a travelling salesman! It might have been a very pathetic mistake but well I took the risk and enjoyed it too. The bike was just repaired and I was not to travel faster than 40 km so it took me about 13 hours in total. A slow peaceful ride with the bike giving me trouble only about five times when I thought “what am I gonna do” and then the bike starts up and I continue precariously. Well anyways I reached Ramsing camp to meet the DFO, Mouling national park. Slept well and the next morning got to Bomdo village.

Here at the village things were a bit different now than last time, I had no person to cook and firewood at my disposal, so a meal was a painful ordeal. So I bought an electric stove from Itanagar, so now I cook using that but that takes a long time. So I spoke to friendly neighbourhood and requested them to cook me breakfast and pack-lunch which I can carry to field so it will save me a lot of trouble. The deal went on well, I give them fifty bucks a day and they cook me two meals and then I come back from field in the evening and cook my long-evening meal. But yesterday was different; as I finished cooking my meal another neighbour called me over to his place and asked me to get there immediately. I told him politely that I still need to eat my evening meal and then do some chores too. Anyways I obliged since it is extremely rude to turn down offers to come home in villages here. When I reached, he offered me rice wine which too I pleasantly obliged and after a mug or two, it dawned on me that he had me over for dinner! So he also set out dinner for me; fish from the Siang river and rice. I ate very happily drank another mug of rice wine and reached back my inspection bungalow where I stay. Then, watched a Chaplin movie just for some humour and then thought I should not waste my cooked meal and grabbed some to eat. When I took my first bite I realised it wasn’t cooked well! Then I felt really glad that I did eat some at another place. It was just luck that I was invited over for a meal before even I knew that my meal was not done well!

The day before that we had a birthday party of a kid; the first year birthday. By the way, when I walked into the home I was advised to cache my slippers in a place I can recover since its common here that people with old torn slippers walk out with new better ones, never to be retrieved! The old women sang together many songs and one of them is a really really beautiful song called “Tayer gamcha”, the theme of the song is about a man being old enough to get married twice! Here it’s a common practice to get married more than once, if you can afford it. The ex-Chief Minister (CM) Gegong Apang from a nearby village called Karko has married five times and has been the CM for about 22 years of the Arunachal State!

Anyways, today is the day after and I had a good field time for the last four days and I had my dinner at neighborhood too; rice and beans with a little meat.