After 44 hours of traveling, we are finally back home.
We ordered pizza immediately and struggled to stay awake as late as possible. This morning (3am for Brian, 9am for Heather), we woke up to snow and a house that looked semi-familiar. I'm still a little shaky from the malaria pills and I can't help but feel that I'm a visitor here. The house feels enormous, the hot shower luxurious, and the temperature-controlled heating system extravagant.
There is something to be gained by having so many luxuries (did I mention the hot shower?), but there is something to be lost. I enjoyed the intimacy gained when the electricity would go out (as it often did) and we would use the light of our cell phones to light the candles until the generator kicked in. I will miss the hand-painted shop signs and the hand-washed laundry and the hand-woven shawls wrapped around the men's shoulders.
I wonder what will happen to Nagaland as it catches up to the rest of the world technologically. As Brian and Theja and Angel and I were saying over dinner on our last night, there is absolutely and undeniably something wonderful about living in the "developed world", but there is also a price to pay. Brian and I commented every day on the sincerity of the people that we met. Of course, we were only there for a brief amount of time and in that time we were always treated as guests but, even with that, we admired the way that people treated each other. As the "Chief Guest" at Brian's film festival noted in his opening speech (a speech that we were uncomfortable with for many reasons), "While we still may be primitive, you can always be assured that our handshakes are heartfelt."
There seems to be less anxiety in Nagaland--less of the edginess that I maintain here in the U.S. As much as the people of Nagaland look to us for leadership (and tell us that on a regular basis), Brian and I both believe that the Nagas have a LOT to teach us as well.
We have many more photographs that I'll post as soon as we get caught up on sleep and a bit more organized here. I'm looking forward to posting the incredible signs that seem to be a Nagaland trademark (i.e. "Forget the Rally, Enjoy the Valley", "Eat the Fruit, Not the Seed", "Hurry Makes Worry", and "AIDS: Fight the Disease, Not the People With It"). I have great photos of the small village that I visited the day before I left and images of the hotel where we stayed (which would have been a 5-star resort had it had heat and more than 5" of water for bathing). Now that we are home safely, we can also post Brian's collection of photos of men with machine guns (and photos of us with the men with the machine guns). They were everywhere! :)