For some context, read: “Why I Left Khonoma Earlier Than Planned”.
I was up the entire night trying to drown the house dog’s cries in the background, focusing on my great escape. I had told my host I would be leaving the next morning for Dzuleke. “But how will you get there”, she asked me. I just gave her a shy smile and told her I’d figure something out.
With no buses or shared taxis running the short distance of 7.5 kilometres between the two Naga villages, I was left at the behest of hitching a ride- provided there was one making that journey. Google told me I could also walk the distance. Beware of bisons, someone had advised. I searched a bit on this more and eventually dropped a short line on my Instagram hoping that someone out there has made that walk, or could help me with some kind of transportation.
Now a lot of people talk ill of social media, and the many vices that come with it. While I cannot defend any of those arguments- for they all stand valid, for me the journey of social media has been all but fulfilling. Time and again, my little online community has come to my rescue with travel tips, suggestions and encouragement. And as suspected, this time was no different. A few messages to and fro with a few people later, I was connected with a person who had in fact made this walk. He gave me a fair idea of the route sitting thousands of miles away, and another kind soul came to my rescue with a local man’s contact who lived in Dzuleke. “Vizo will be of help for sure”, they assured me and in the middle of the night, I found myself taking chances and calling the number, only to find it in out of network coverage. But the simple reassurance of a local man’s contact and an idea of the short walk helped me soothe my nerves and soon I was drifting off to sleep, hopeful that tomorrow will be better.
Tomorrow was better, indeed. I woke up at the break of light and tried calling Vizo again, to no avail. I packed my bags, took a shower, filled my bottle of water and got ready to start walking not before calling Vizo one last time. And it went through! I explained my situation to him and he gave me the contact of another man who was leading a group tour and was coming to Dzuleke from Khonoma that very morning with his group. “But all homestays are overbooked in Dzuleke”, Vizo informed me. “We’ll cross that bridge when we reach it”, I told him. He chuckled and hung up. Another quick call to Ratan from Experience Destination later, I was walking to the village centre of Khonoma to grab breakfast and await my ride to Dzuleke.
What followed was a beautiful drive through the winding Naga Hills on a bright sunny winter morning with the likes of Coldplay, Pink Floyd and A R Rahman running in the background and forging new friendships in a strange place with strange people. That was one of the most memorable parts from my 3 weeks in Nagaland. How a disastrous stay in Khonoma turned into a blissful experience in Dzuleke was proof how tomorrow is always a new day.
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