Sometimes deep into the night, rain fell noisily on the metal roof of my room, in Mawlynnong. It took me a while to wrap my head around the sudden pitter-patter, as not too long ago, I had tried to capture a sky full of stars, through my camera. A peep outside my window confirmed it. In a quick glance, I noticed that the leaves were glistening. I pulled the blanket right up to my chin, wrapping the edges tightly around myself. I was excited about visiting this corner of North-East when I booked my non-stop flights from USA to India through the flight booking sites in India. The breath seemed to be filling my lungs after passing through an icicle that seemed to have replaced my nose. I had half the temptation to touch the tip of my nose to feel how cold it was, but the thought of taking my hand out of the blanket nipped it in the bud. I lifted my head a bit from the pillow to peep out how hard the rain was. It was little more than drizzle (the metal roof was amplifying the effect), but the view was still very clear. As if everything was being viewed in HD (High Definition), as opposed to Instagram-ish view back home. I checked my phone for the time. 3:10am! The rain stopped after ten minutes. After pulling the blanket tighter, I turned to face away from the window to sleep some more. Just when I was hitting the sweet spot in the timeline of my shuteye, a 120 decibel, soul splitting, right-next-to-my-ear-kind-of ‘cock-a-doodle-doo’ stunned me awake. Silence! I could hear only my heart thumping madly. This time, my brain was too stunned and awake to go back to sleep easily. I checked the time again. 3:35am! Unbelievable! Who gets up at 3:35am? Rolling my eyes, I tried to roll myself back to sleep; hoping it to be one odd happenstance for that night. My mistake! Approximately, five minutes later, the roosters decided to drag me out of my sweet sleep. They started conversing loudly. Simultaneously! These things don’t wake you up. They just don’t let you sleep. You will understand the difference between these two phrases, like I did. The ‘cock-concert’ didn’t seem like to be ending anytime soon, thereby forcing me out of the bed at an unearthly hour. It was 4:15 am, and I had never been up this early; not in the last decade, at least. I could not decide whether I was furious, or stunned. I wasn’t used to this kind of environment when I was in my country. Maybe the Indian flight booking websites should have warned me about this. Thanks to Indian travel sites! I was unable to sleep now. Strolling out of my room, I decided to experience the day-break in the horizon. Most of the north-eastern states follow the Bagan Time Zone, which is an hour ahead of the rest of the country, and two hours ahead of the western border, Rann of Kutch. The sun rises early in this part of the country and sets early too. At 5:00 pm, it is dark. So I went out on light jog thinking about my country, how in India flight tickets are cheap, how to go back and when to go back to the other places, blah blah. After enjoying the crisp morning breeze, I came back to the room and decided to get ready. Phillip, my friend from the village, had offered to take me for a guided walk around Mawlynnong at 6:00 am. Almost each house had its premises adorned with a huge rock that had a pit in it existing naturally. Later, Phillip told me that it is a specialty that is found only in Mawlynnong. In fact, the village derives its name from the combination of these two words: Maw’ means rock/stone and ‘lynnong’ means pit/crater. Mawlynnong has aptly been said to be the ‘God’s own garden.’ This clearly isn’t the typical village that constitutes the basic DNA of India. It is the village, the kinds of which should have been aplenty and ought to have been the foundation of the nation. It was very different from my experience in Nongriat, the valley-village at a distance of approximately 90 kilometers, where I had spent my two nights before coming to Mawlynnong. Now my pride for booking international flight tickets to India was growing higher. We decided that we would visit the balancing-rock, first. On the way, we passed one of the two churches that the village has. 100% of the population in Mawlynnong is Christian, I am told. “Missionaries have made tremendous contribution towards education, healthcare and holistic well-being of the village, as well as the life of individual folks,” he shares.
“How did the cleanest-village-honour happen; did someone hold a campaign so that Mawlynnong could get recognition?” I asked.
“No. This is how we have been living for decades. Our parents and ancestors have repeatedly stressed on benefits of cleanliness. It only got recognized in 2003. We have a community-service day, monthly (sometimes twice a month), where we all get-together to clean the village. Throughout our childhood, we have seen our elders take great efforts to keep every bit of the village clean; this is how we have learnt,” Philip shares. There! On the days that are not “community service days”, the village has designated cleaners, horticulturist and gardener taking care of its upkeep. All through my stay at the village, not once did I come across even a single string of web. We walked on the narrow, winding road, leading towards the balancing rock. The road meanders its way into seemingly wildly growing shoots of some kind. “It is broom-stick; that is what we grow here”, says Phillip, pointing at these shoots. I am glad he told me this, for I had conveniently assumed it to be bamboo, and that is what I would have written in this blog-post. After fifteen minutes of leisurely walk, we found ourselves outside the premise that houses ‘the balancing rock’. The family that owned it has handed it over to the village authority for maintenance, upkeep and managing the income. A nominal fee is charged for the entry. The earnings go towards paying for the guard’s salary, keeping the place clean and maintenance-work like trimming the grass around the area, ensuring smooth drain channel, and keeping the place litter-free. Philip dropped me home and left. I wanted to stay longer and explore more but then I had to leave. I knew that in India tickets were easily available to any village and that I would be booking cheap flights from USA to India again. But believe me, this village is a beautiful place to get lost in! So if you get a chance to book cheap flights from USA to India through any flight booking sites in India, do not hesitate to book them as airfares on Indian travel sites are economical and most importantly thi9s place deserves innumerable visits.