I joke about living under a rock.
And so it seems legit when the story-writers of my life proved me right!
When my friend and I arrived in Manipur’s capital, Imphal, in January this year, I knew very little about a town called Moreh. What it means is that another friend had recommended Moreh as a town at the border of India and Myanmar – and armed with just that much information and nothing more (I kid you not), I decided we could add Moreh to our plan while we were in Imphal.
The 110 kilometer journey from Imphal to Moreh is a micro-story for another post. So when we got off our shared taxi and agreed to return to Imphal with the same driver, we were left confused when he said: “Don’t take too long. It’s a long drive back and we have to make it back before 5 PM at the very latest.”
Don’t take too long.
What did he mean?
What could possibly be there to do here anyway?
That would be figured out later. First, breakfast. Because, priorities – courtesy the 4:30 AM wake up call to make it to and back from Moreh in a day!
|So what if we can’t live in a border-less world, as long as we can walk through them and be reminded that we’re all still the same of the inside I think we’re good. The people were warm and accommodating, even when neither of us spoke each other’s language. And just like at Ima Keithel, people were just happy to have their photographs taken.
Seeking consent works wonderfully!
And yet, I dig border towns.
They seem to grow on me in hindsight.
Ditto for Moreh.
We saw the entrance to the gate that read: Indo-Myanmar Friendship Gate.
And in a tubelight moment of sorts it dawned on me for the first time ever that we could cross over to the ‘other side’.
Living under a rock, remember!
But what would we need to go to the other side?
Whom could we ask?
We decided to walk to the gate and ask the jawaans directly. Turns out, we could go to the other side with a valid ID proof.
Obviously, d’oh! This is the route of the famed ‘road-trip to Thailand’ that spammed my social media timelines not too long ago. And yet, here I was that clueless resident from under the rock.
There was no paper-work required. After all, we weren’t trailing too far into the country – just its marketplace.
After the seemingly customary “Where are you’ll from? So good to have people from Mumbai come all the way here…” conversation with army officials of both countries, we were in Myanmar.
Or to be more precise, we were in Tamu.
Tamu – or to be more specific, the Tamu we saw was just within the radius of the wholesale market that’s located there. We didn’t know how far into the country we could venture. And when we asked, we got told: “Don’t go too far.”
Eh! Thanks but no thanks.
We didn’t know what the protocol on taking photographs were. One official said no and another just nodded – which could have meant anything. Also, did the ‘no’ mean, we couldn’t take a photograph at the border area due to security concerns or were we not allowed to take photographs in general?
When you don’t speak the language, you are bound to be stuck in this version of no-man’s-land.
So we took our chances.
I really wanted to capture the essence of the market.
And having step foot into Tamu, we were already experiencing glimpses of the country that is Myanmar.
Sandalwood paste smeared on faces
Locals garbed in longyis
Sparse presence of the Hindi language
Blink-and-miss presence of the Tamil language
Lots of the Burmese language, obviously
And acceptance of the Indian currency. Yay!
I knew I couldn’t rely on my memory to store these in some air-tight corner of my head for future retelling. So I set my camera aside and used my mobile phone to capture a frame or two – and then some more!
P.S.: All photographs have been taken with due permission of the people in them.
|Taking in the first sights on the other side of the border. Literally.|
|Just like it is on ‘our’ side of the border. Boiled groundnuts. Ber/Jujube.|
|Flowers adding that their own verve to the marketplace|
|Never got around to knowing the name of this street snack! Do watch the video towards the end of this post though|
|That’s a close-up. Does this help with helping me figuring what this is called?|
|Known as Longchak in Manipuri, this is a rather commonly prepared vegetable in this region. We weren’t surprised to see it on the other side of the border.|
|What’s a post without doggo? 😉|
|Okay. One more doggo. Though this one made me feel more awkward about taking a photograph than any human did.
|I have a weakness. And it’s a good weakness to have, I reckon.|
|Sweets off the streets!|
Curious to know more about this border town? I stumbled upon this Hindustan Times article from September 2015. You may find it informational.
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