The monk was from Burma and had come over to India in the late 70s. A long flowing grey beard, a pleasant smile, broken Hindi and a constant peacefulness characterised him. People from far away come here to take his blessings. I was in Devakota, nestled in the verdant hills, encircled by the Yang Sang Chu river in the eastern section of Upper Siang. A bit of background.
Most of the first day's trek was along the Yang Sang Chu, a river that cared a little about directions; it is a river that owing to the terrain, flows from South Easterly to North Westerly direction to meet the Siang close to Tuting. Somewhere after the Jido village, Roy exclaimed “this much forest can hurt the eyes!”. And he was right, in all the directions we could see there were beautiful forested hills, some of them with snow toppings. Since in the landscape we were in settled cultivation along the Yang Sang Chu valley was more common than shifting cultivation along the hillslopes, the forests in the hills looked fairly contiguous.
The mithuns reared by the Membas looked relatively smaller than the ones reared by the Adis, and as it is looked a bit different and there were horses here too.
As I climbed down from Payengdam gazing at the prayer flags of Mankota, my knees gave in and I decided that going till Singha may not be a possibility. And if the pain in the knees stayed the trek back to Tuting would be even more difficult.
We chatted about Buddhism, about life in Bhutan and here in India, life in Devakota and he also told me that the Government was not sending enough funds to maintain the temple. The monk's wife was very interested in the bird book I was carrying and spent more than an hour going through the pages and telling me the local names for the birds. Later that day the monk told me to take a picture of him wearing his priest robe with his wife and asked me to print it and send it over whenever next possible. This will be possible next month since Roy will be going back.
People from all over Arunachal and even from other states visit Devakota to the Buddhist temple here to do Kora of the temple itself and the hill on which it is located. For me the three days spent there taught me the importance of being idle! I had carried no books to read, there was no electricity and no one to talk much to. But I enjoyed that feeling too. Prayers of the monk in the temple, a constant hum of the river flowing closeby, calls of several birds in the background, colours sprinkled into the day by butterflies, conversations with the monk and his wife filled my days.