It was a pitch-dark night, I could only sense the jungle around me. It was the monsoon of 2014 when I first visited Mawlynnong, a tiny village in Meghalaya. Huts with thatched roofs were the only sign of establishment that could be spotted. I wished there were more street lights.
I was looking for a woman named Carol, whom I contacted on the phone for accommodation which she advertised on the internet with the name of “Bamboo Huts”. I doubted the whole arrangement since she neither noted my name nor demanded an advance, just confirmed the dates. On probing with locals, I was pointed to the Bamboo Huts and saw a man standing, looked like he was waiting for me.
“Hi, I am looking for Carol. I made a booking with her.” I said. I didn’t know if it was a right pitch because I didn’t have any confirmation to show.
“I don’t know any Carol”, he said sternly.
He looked pissed. I was puzzled.
“Do you have any availability?”, I asked sheepishly.
“No.” again a stern reply.
The clock already struck midnight. With the population of only 500, I wasn’t sure if I’ll find a guest house other than this.
“My name is Henry. Carol is my agent. I am angry because she did not communicate with me for this booking”, he said.
“Oh, I see. I called her twice to confirm. That’s very irresponsible on her part.” I said sympathetically.
Soon, he got warm and assured me there is an available hut and offered me dinner, which was music to my ears because I was starving from my 6 hours drive from Guwahati. The night couldn’t have been more eventful than this, and soon, I retired to bed.
Next morning, my eyes opened to another world. At around 7 a.m., it was drizzling and a bit foggy. The local women were already out cleaning the streets of the village. Suddenly, the reality hit me, another reason for me to visit this village was because of its identity of being the cleanest village in Asia. I looked around with the inspecting look, and noticed conical bamboo bins all along the street. The cleaning exercise is repeated on the evening. I was impressed and greatly surprised. Impressed, with the natural beauty of the village and surprised, by the natural consciousness of the people to make it clean.
Living deep in the jungle, in a world still to be permeated by modern technology, the people of Mawlynnong have naturally come to understand the importance of keeping their surroundings clean and garbage proof. Two years after the trip, when I now reflect as a city dweller, I fail to understand why we despite all that we know haven’t come to the same conclusion? Isn’t it something which should come naturally to us?