Update: This post was written some time back when I was in Falam, Chin State in early August and in fact, I had thought that it was posted successfully. It turns out my 3G phone Internet did not actually do the trick. Eventually posted with success a few weeks after. For better pictures taken with a real camera and a more complete story, please read my friend Griffin’s post at Chinland Herald website here.
As of this morning, Chin State has been declared a state of emergency.
One slight problem. I happen to be here, enjoying my break from work as well as volunteering part of my time here at Chin Institute of Social Science.
Everywhere I go, they all say that I have come to their town at the roughest time possible. A cyclone happened to touch us very tangentially. Eight houses in Falam had been evacuated, which is impressive compared with over thousands in Hakha. Away from Facebook, radio and TV, I feel none of it inside the insularity and remoteness of the small town and my holiday bubble, happily curled up in my Chin blankie with bottles and bottles of sweet Chin wine at evenings. With charcoal stove in the room and a thundering storm outside, it actually felt kind of nice.
The outside world begs to differ. My friends and family text and call me. My father demands an explanation of why I have come to Falam in the first place. People in town talk. Rumors fuel this angst. All imported goods and several staples come to Falam through Kalaymyo, which is now completely flooded. The main airport is located at the center of Kalaymyo, with airlines landing there daily till 15th of this month. I was told that if I could make it to the airport in one piece, they would do anything to get me on a flight. Rumor has it our President is visiting Kalaymyo this afternoon. It seems we operate on lots of rumors.
This morning, I took a ride in a loop around Falam (instead of attending church service, which is what the whole town does!).
Here is the same mountain where Falam is located. Though Falam is safe, the back side of the mountain has seen better days. The earth also shakes and stirs a little, like how we sometimes do in sleep, creating massive but beautiful cracks along the charred roads. The resulting landslides are beautifully destructive, disorienting things and make great reminders of human vulnerability.
Mountains do move.