Namaskar friends! Welcome to Visa2explore! This is your host, Harish Bali. Right now, we are in Tura, the district headquarters of West Garo Hills region. We spent yesterday sightseeing here and we will do the same today as well as tomorrow. But first, breakfast! I really love the location of our homestay. It is a peaceful environment and greenery everywhere. So, let us have breakfast and then we will leave for sightseeing. I am with the owners of this homestay, Mr. Oswin and his wife. For breakfast, we are eating al traditional dishes. It will be better if you explain the food. This is Sakkin. It is made by steaming sticky powdered rice and til (sesame seeds). This is Jakkep. It is again powdered sticky rice and til, but made on a tawa (griddle). It is also sweet in taste. This is Pitha. This is again sticky powdered rice but fried in oil. This is Minil, it is made with sticky rice and steamed. I’ve got to show you three types of rice. First of all, see this variety. This is sticky rice and it looks sticky to the eye as well. Its texture is milky. Its thickness and transparency are zero.. This is the regular variety of rice. And by the look of it, it is slightly transparent. This is Joha rice. I can see this has many layers. So, the cake that you see here has been cooked layer by layer. So, they make one layer of sticky rice, then one layer of til, and so on. Okay, I can feel the difference here. Due to being made with sticky rice, it has a certain elasticity. I mean to say, if it were made of the regular rice variety, it wouldn’t have been so elastic. Great! So, we were talking of til filling inside, this, you can see, is the til filling. This is called Pitha in Assam. That is a similar concept but the one I ate in Assam was not made of sticky rice. And the amount of rice powder was in larger quantity there. It is slightly sweet as well. Generally, what happens is that once you eat something new, you need several attempts to develop a taste. But this requires no attempt at all. One can develop a taste on day one itself. Because this is very tasty. That sticky rice, though,…. and til is slightly bitter in taste. Til, on its own, I mean. But adding sugar has lent a bit of sweetness and with sticky rice, it is a wonderful combination. I mean this whole deal is a delicious taste. Look at this, this is multi-layered. We also make it with normal rice, instead of sticky rice, but that is a bit loose in consistency. It is delicious! Very tasty! Pitha! I told you about sticky rice, this is how you can understand. Wow! I am doing this deliberately, to check its elasticity. Good! All three dishes made of sticky rice, all three different tastes! Yummy! Tell me once more, what do you call it? Minil! Minil! Don’t eat a lot of this chutney! It will burn your mouth! Eat a bit of it first. Okay! Lots of chilli! By God! Seriously! It is yummy! And it is good that you cautioned me about this chutney. Otherwise, I was going to eat all this chutney. And now, I am already fuming after eating just a bit Just imagine, this thing is so wonderful. I’ve just eaten one spoon of it. With just a touch of chutney! And I feel that if I eat just this much quantity of sticky rice,…. …it means I’ve had half of my breakfast. Even if you eat heavy breakfast, your 50% breakfast is done. And it is very tasty! Awesome! Very tasty! You’ve been generous with chilies in this chutney. That is how this chutney is made! Yes, that is how chutney is made. It is delicious! The sticky rice is also lip-smacking! Tell me, on a lighter note,…. ….during a wedding, we know, there are many sensitive moments,…. …when a girl leaves her parental home, she cries, hugs her parents. She is wondering about the kind of family she is getting married into. So, tell me how did you feel when you left your parental home to settle down with your wife’s family? Yeah, so? In our community, men leave their parents’ home and go to live in the wife’s home. At the time of marriage, I left my mother and father behind. So, obviously, one gets very emotional. My parents, myself, even the relatives became very emotional…. ….at the thought that I am going into a new family, new house,…. ….how will I handle everything. All this thought makes them emotional. See, this is a very unique custom and I am trying to imagine it. So far, we’ve only seen girls leaving their parents’ home to live with their in-laws. So, we are worried about the kind of family she would get. Whether she will be comfortable there or not, sorry, I am just trying to understand the whole thing. So, that is a sensitive moment. And how far is your parents’ home from here? It is 3.5-4kms. So, it is nearby. Yes! Great! Just now, I told you about a Matrilineal society. So, tell me, within a family system, the marriage takes place, everything is settled,…. ….so, in general, who plays the biggest role in this family system? Mumma! Mumma! Most of the decision-making is done by mothers. Alright! One more thing that I’ve noticed in the past few days, correct me if I am wrong,…. …generally, I’ve noticed more women empowerment and yours is a women-led society. Ladies,….because in the workforce also, I’ve seen there are more women. Yes! And the women are either a step above or at the same level. No, in the workforce, there are same number of women as men but…. …within a family, head of the family is a male. Alright! While enjoying our food, we understood the Matrilineal system of society in detail. The youngest daughter inherits the parental property. And she stays with her parents after her marriage. In India, Meghalaya is the only state to follow the Matrilineal system of society. It felt good to receive detailed information about this aspect of society. After finishing our food, we will leave for sightseeing. Mr. David, how far is this village? It is 35kms from here. We are going to the Sadolpara village. Great! The region in which we are travelling, majority of the populationn is Christian. While on this road, on our right hand side, we see the Tura Baptist Church. A little further, we see the Sacred Heart Shrine. Come, let us go inside. Today is Sunday, the congregation is offering prayer right now. Christians go to church on Sundays. As I told you earlier, we are on our way to Sadolpara. There is a viewpoint up front. We will stop here to enjoy the scenery. Wow Man! What an exclusive moment! Really very different! I had assumed, as we gained height, that we will be at level with the mountains. There are forests down below. Lush green trees everywhere! So beautiful! It has started drizzling as soon as we reached here. One cannot really predict anything about rains. Rain can fall anytime here. Dark clouds! David, we had to go to Tura peak today but we woke up late so couldn’t make it. Can we see Tura peak from here? Yes! White clouds! Alright! Near those white clouds, just next to Tura Peak, is the Nokrek Peak. Yeah! It is on this side. Okay! Tomorrow morning, we will try to climb the Nokrek Peak. How many kilometers would it be from our guest house? About 40kms from the homestay. We will go there tomorrow morning and show you the view from there. It will be fun! Amazing! Looks like it is about to rain. Let us go back now. Come! We’ve reached Sadolpara village. The main purpose of this visit is to meet and interact with the members of Songsarek community. It took us about 2 hours to reach here, because we stopped at many places on the way. It was beautiful. Come, let us go inside. Tell me something about this community. This is the Garo tribe Sub-tribe! This is a traditional Garo village. Here, you will find only Songsarek people, no Christians. Songsarek means “believers in spirits.” Though they don’t worship spirits but they believe in them. So, there are no Christians in this community. Alright! No Christians, no Hindus! Neither Hindus nor Christians, these tribals believe only in prakriti (nature). Such are these people. Can we go inside and talk to some of the members? You met Mr. Oswin this morning, he is his brother. He came here in a separate vehicle. Come! These are the villagers here and he is the village headman. (Speaking local language) She is his wife. Mitela! He is thanking you for coming. Mitela! On coming inside, I’ve understood that they welcome a guest with a cup of rice beer…. …and they are setting up the same. What they have here is a concentrated, very potent form,…. ….therefore, they are diluting it with some water. Water dissolves the taste so that it is suitable for drinking. Okay! I have begun to feel a strong smell. You saw him pouring some rice beer on the floor here. Before serving beer to the guest, they offer it to the spirit, in which they believe. After that they will serve it to you. Is it good or bad? It is good! Slowly, slowly! Okay, direct. Mitela. Mitela! So, they serve it directly, like this, to the guest? Yes! Oh God! He is drinking it in one gulp! Oh Man! This is the way! Tell me one thing, it is afternoon right now. But if the guest comes in the morning, at 8 am, would they serve rice beer even then? Whether the guest comes in the morning, noon or night, we welcome him with rice beer. You just saw him drinking the rice beer…. …this way, even if they restrict the intake,…. ….they can intake 2-3 litres of rice beer like this at once. They can drink 2 litres of rice beer at once! Yes, at once! Tell me one thing, in Garo Hills, the Songsarek community, this tribe,…. …what would be their total number in population. In this village? Yes, tell me about this village! In this village, there are about 400 people right now. 400! And this place has the maximum number of these people? In Garo tribe, why is the population of Songsarek people so less, as you told me about just 400 villagers. Otherwise also, they are not much in numbers. What is the main reason behind this? The main reason is modernisation. You mean with time…. Yes, with time, these people are also changing themselves. That is the reason. Alright! Can you tell him on my behalf that the rice beer has good taste? Yes, sure! (Local dialect) Meaning? Rice beer is known as “Chhoo” in Garo language. Mitela! Tell me more about them. When the rooster crows in the morning,… …that is the time they wake up. After eating their breakfast, at 4 or 4.30 am,… …they leave to work in their fields. Okay. The sun rises early here, in any case. Yes, it does. So, they reach their fields by 4.30 am. Then they work there for the day. They will work the whole day, in between taking a lunh break,… …after that they will work again till sunset, when it is time to head back home. So, they come back in the evening, cook and eat their dinner and go to bed early. They eat early in the evening, go to sleep early and then wake up early the next morning. This is because they don’t possess watches. The crowing rooster is their clock. So, now that they are putting cooked rice onto these leaves, Chhagro, this is their traditional method. This is a traditional method, which you will witness in every Garo settlement, every Garo household. Do they eat wheat or wheat flour or wheat flatbread here? No! Only rice! Rice! I’ve got to see such a part of my country, which is totally different. And it looks different too! About education, can you ask them about their children, the coming generation,…. …the 8 years olds or 10 years olds…. …do those kids go to school? (Local dialect). There is a primary school, that is where the kids go. And for the Middle education, we saw, on our way here, a structure,…. ….that is the Middle school and there is no High School here. This area doesn’t have a high school. No, there isn’t. There is a Primary and a Middle school. Please ask them that the weather is warm right now. But in January, when it is much colder, do they have warm clothes for that time? Do they have enough warm clothes so that they can be comfortable during winter? (Local dialect) During the summer season, since they are not used to, they don’t wear too many clothes but… …for the winter season, they have sufficient clothes. Sometimes when they don’t produce enough in their fields,… …their agriculture practice is not so productive, therefore,… …they have other options in the form of cashew nut and areca nut gardens…. ….and that is how they support their livelihood. Do they want better education facilities for their coming generations? (Local dialect) I mean do they want to educate their children? (Local dialect) He says that though they are illiterate…. …they want that their children should be educated. But despite all our efforts, our kids do not want to study. Their children do not want to study. It looks like those children do not want to walk in step with the modern world. They’ve mixed baingan (eggplant) and dried fish for this dish. Now they are adding Khaar to it, made from a cotton tree. Now they will add it to the bamboo tube. When somebody in the family dies in this village…. …they sculpt a tree statue of the deceased person…. …and wood carving is done on that. The statue is draped in the same clothes as that person. And from time to time, the family members worship that statue as an ancestor. This is Baingal and Me’Ching leaf. Here you go! So, this has baingan, Me’ching and dried fish? A little dried fish. This is chicken wrapped in banana leaf and cooked directly in fire. This is chicken and powdered rice mixed and cooked with Khaar. See the traditional method in which the cooking has been done here. All this process took its time and now it is 5 pm. This rice that we are eating, has it been grown by them? Yes, this rice is locally grown around here. That is what these people eat. The chicken we are eating is country chicken. Second thing, the name of that leaf, you told me, is Samswing. It has a unique flavour, very difficult to explain its taste. But one immediately noticeable difference is in its texture, the dish has become green coloured. And the leaf has also lent a very moderate flavour to the dish…. …and I will have to eat it more than once in order to understand this flavour & taste. And look at their impeccable timing,…. …because of which this chicken is neither overcooked nor undercooked. Perfectly cooked! One more thing that I noticed while they were cooking is that…. They have just added salt to it. That’s correct, right? Nothing except salt! And look at the taste, all because of salt and bamboo tube cooking. And its taste is really very good! Mr. Harish, how was your experience in this village? Excellent! One thing I would like to stress is that I have visited many villages ever since I started Visa2explore…. ….but this kind of tribe, with such a unique way of life…. …& I also noticed that they don’t use watches…. ….still they look at the sky and judge the time, leaving for their fields 4.00 am…. ….going to sleep at 7 pm, so these are some of things that make their tribe different from rest of the world. Speaking overall about it, in terms of food and visiting the village,…. ….I am enjoying everything. And for me, it is a memorable experience! This is baingan, Me’ching and a little bit of dried fish. Strong taste! The flavour of Me’ching is very strong. I could judge it while cooking as well as now that I am eating it now. I will have to develop a taste for it. The only answer of this would be to eat it multiple times but I must tell you…. …that I had noticed this thing in the vegetable market visit yesterday,… …that locals love it very much because it was being sold in large quantities. People are fond of this taste. But as an outsider, it will take us some practice to adopt this taste. I want that after finishing the meal you should thank him on my behalf. And thanks to you all as well because if it were not for you guys, we wouldn’t have reached here. One thing that is worth mentioning here is that…. ….the people of this village are very hospitable. In fact, there are hospitable people at every level, in this village as well as in Tura, like these gentlemen. They took time out of their busy lives to assist us in our travel. They thought accompanying us on this journey would make it a better experience for me. So, this is one thing that I really liked here. Now we will finish our food and say ‘Mitela’ to them. It is 6 o’clock in the evening. It is time to leave here now. Can you tell them, on our behalf, that we enjoyed our visit here? (Local dialect) Mitela! Mitela! Mitela! Thank you! Mitela! Mitela! Bye-bye! It will take us at least 2 hours to return to our homestay. It is time to say bye-bye to you. We will meet in the next episode now. That will be our tomorrow’s journey. We are going back on the day after tomorrow. I am hoping that you are enjoying the Meghalaya series. This is Garo Hills, Meghalaya, Bye-bye! Thanks for your time!