Friday, December 10, 2010

Night Carnival

There is electricity in the section of the street in Kohima where they held the Night Carnival but it didn't stay on the whole time. When the lights went out, the shop owners and street vendors lit candles, creating a more intimate but equally festive affair.

Even when the electric lights were on, the atmosphere felt strikingly--for lack of a better term--cozy. Brian and I recognized this while we were there and we tried to figure out what was creating that vibe. We noticed that the people didn't seem to be in any rush. No one was drunk (though maybe people would be if Naga rum and beer weren't outlawed by the Church). Everyone was smiling. They were walking at approximately the same pace and talking in the same volume. No one was trying to get you to buy what they were selling. It took us a little while to recognize that there weren't any homeless people and to realize what a significant impact this made on the social environment. The idea that there have not been beggars in the history of the Naga people suddenly connected to our observation that Naga culture seems to lack the anxiety that fuels American culture. I'm not saying that one causes the other, just that there is a connection.

One significant detail that I didn't notice until I got home was that store signs don't light up. Imagine how the Night Carnival scene would change if each of the shops was labeled with signs such as "Staples", "Barnes and Noble", "Michael's", "CVS", "Wegman's".

In the photo above, Brian is trying to find allergy medicine in a pharmacy lit by a single candle. Notice how he is proudly wearing the shawl of the Angami tribe.

Beyond romantic visions, however, I admit that I don't want to have to throw buckets of water on the street in front of my house to temporarily keep the dust down. I would protest if the town ripped the pavement off our roads. Would I be happier in a place that requires back-up candles and hand-carried water? I'm not sure. I only know that it would be very difficult--if not impossible--to request inconvenience.

1 comment:

  1. I have to agree with your last paragraph. Where you come from and where we are- there is a hugggggeeee gap.

    Even some mainland-Indians find it difficult to adapt. I have heard this especially from those who come here for skilled-jobs (IT etc)...but for them it is mainly die to cultural and food habit differences, besides what you mentioned. I guess we get used to "whatever we got".