Thursday, December 19, 2013

Memories of JNV Baghmara , Siju Caves, Pitcher Plant and ghost stories (Meghalaya)

Hi there,

Memory comes to me like a pleasant nightmare. Sometimes it is clear enough and then totally blurred.
That is what I can say, when I try to remember, my days at JNV Baghmara South Garo Hills(Meghalaya).
 The aim of this post is to just jot down, whatever I can remember. Its been more than 10 years gap, when I was there.

That one year 2001-2002 spent at the JNV(Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya) Baghmara is untapped and somewhat forgotten experience. I was a kid, had no aim of achieving anything, but only to roam around wherever, whenever opportunity was there.

Sundays were holidays and probably there was no such Sunday, when we were not out just for the sole purpose of roaming and sometimes buying the things and calling our parents at the Himachal Pradesh.

Pandoh to Baghmara:

Tura, the nearest town to Baghmara is located a distance of 101km, and the nearest railway station is at Guwahati. Our journey from Pandoh to Baghamara was like this:

Pandoh to Pathankot was generally traveled on bus(except once, when we took train from Maranda to Pathankot) and then we traveled to Delhi on Train.
We used to reserve the train tickets from Delhi to Guwahati, and then a night bus carried us from Guwahati to Tura and finally to Baghmara.

JNV Baghmara was almost 3km( I am not sure of exact distance) distant from the main Baghmara market and we had to cross few wooden bridges on the way to reach there. A number of bamboo structures(homes) and Simsang river was not far to take a beautiful glance. From the bridge to watch that vast flow of water was always a mind soothing experience.

Kiddish moments and joys:

Whenever we went on the bridge, spitting and watching it to float on the air and finally reaching the surface of water was a famous practice. The local Panwaris were good at making a delicious 'Pan'(eatable) and we had no shame to eat that at that young age(14) because almost everyone among our age in the area was comfortable with it.

Bangladesh boundary was not far and that is why we use to go over the boundary with the BSF personnel who were basically from Himachal Pradesh. They had their camp located at the top of a hill from where whole of the market was visible. They were very friendly to us, maybe they saw their own children in our faces.

Famous Pitcher plant was available for our curious minds to investigate it to the full delight of our hearts. This plant is famous because it eats the small insects, after capturing them inside their hollow long top cylindrical and bottom conical trap. The top has a gated opening, once the prey entered inside it gets closed.

This plant was on the banks of the Rambha river which was at about 100 meters from our hostels.
Fighting with leeches/blood suckers on the grassy paths had become our daily encounter. some of us carried salt along because it was easier to get them separated with salt.

Seriousness about study:

Study was the last  on my priority list, getting 33 marks in the social studies, mathematics and English was the only academic aim. Swimming in the Rambha(Or Rampha) River was our most important and most enjoyable daily routine.
On a visit to Siju Caves  (Photo courtesy: Kamal Kishore Mittal)
Along with me were

  1. Ashish Rahi
  2. Abhay Sharma
  3. Chitra Rekha Thakur
  4. Harish Kaundal
  5. Jagdish Sharma
  6. Jeevan Singh
  7. Kamal Kishore Mittal
  8. Kirti Sood
  9. Kiran Thakur
  10. Lata Kaushal
  11. Neelam Saini(later Sharma)
  12. Pitamber S Kohli
  13. Prakash Chand
  14. Rahul
  15. Ruchi Bansal
  16. Sangeeta Bhardwaj
  17. Urmila
We were migrated from JNV Mandi(Pandoh) to JNV Baghmara, under the migration scheme of the Navodaya Smiti, main aim was national integration.

What we really learned:

They migrates the student within country, from one culture to other totally different culture, for us(Mandi) it was the Garo-land(Baghmara). People were totally different. They were totally non-vegetarian and spoke their own language which, might have some other name but we simply called this 'Garo'.

Including me, many of us learned a part of this language and helped some of them to learn Hindi, this was a joyful experience. Daily pranks were played related to our language so,  learning was among top fun activities.

There were a numbers of ghost stories on any single tongue of the school. I remember a story told by our English teacher who was basically from Manipur and loved to play Badminton with his friend and our Science teacher.

We had nicknames for them(sorry not going to tell the names), one was quite short and other was tall so, this made them look funny together and we always enjoyed to talk to them.

Siju Caves:

A one day visit to the Siju Cave and under construction site of our new school buildings was among one of the best memories of this one year. Siju caves have a very big entrance and looked like a cave from some knight tale filled with spirits and ghosts.

We removed our shoes at the dry location of the cave because, inside base was filled with water crossings at many stretches. This flowing water was quite fresh and we enjoyed to dip our feet in it. We were advised to be brave and silent.

After going about 50 meters in, this got completely dark and even torches seemed to die. We reached a place where it was almost impossible to see anything, and it looked like the end of the cave but when extra light was thrown on the face, we saw three- four entrances which diverged in different directions.

Girls who were almost 9 in number were enjoying the place and their own screams(as the background music), horrible?.. but obviously they were enjoying otherwise they would have not entered to see those numbers of bats and the darkness of the cave.

We met someone inside there who was carrying a stone in his hand, well, I don't suppose he was an archaeologist or geologist but, he was searching for the stone like them. We came back and than visited the construction site which was facing a problem which I enjoyed to hear about

Elephants and my friend:

The problem were the notorious wild elephants. Under construction boundary wall was the blockage to the normal path of the elephants and overnight the wall was on the ground. Bringing that wall to the ground was not a hard job for the elephants.
Wooden house on the top of tree. Image source: http://garohills.org/e_religion.html

We were amazed to see wooden(Bamboo) houses made on the branches of the large trees, which served mainly two advantages over the ground houses. Important one was safety from those wild elephants for whom the localities feared the most and second was maybe the joy of living at height and safety from ground moisture.

I remember a story of one of our Garo friend(Ginseng D Sangma).
Ginseng was a good friend to all of us, he was school captain and was in 10th class while we were in 9th class.He and one of his friend once got caught on the top of the tree because, the mother of a small elephant was ramming the trunk of that tree hoping and waiting to make both of them fall to ground.
Sounds like a story from the book 'Panchtantra'  or 'Champak'!
Their motor-cycle was at a few distance.. well! cutting the long story to short, I must tell you that they were saved that day because of one wooden bridge over an river on their run-way, and  elephants feared to cross that so, that wooden bridge was the reason that our friend was alive to tell us that story.

A year of Success?

My aims were fulfilled at the end of the one year like roaming and swimming without any restrictions(roaming was partially fulfilled), and getting 33 marks out of 100  which I got almost in every subject that year.
Some of other remarkable memories from this one year are:

  •  Celebrating Christmas with them
  • Playing Volly-ball or football in the evening while keeping one eye to my new found crush.
  • Bathing in front of the girls hostel at the Ring well.
  • Failed attempts of fishing in the Ranfa River.
  • Playing football in the rain on that grassy ground near to our hostel.
  • Those two days train journeys.
  • A play that was played by the Himachali boys. I played as a boxer, Jagdish being my counter.     Rahul played the main character and our choreographer, director and narrator was Mr. Malik (DP) 
  •  Friendly behavior of students and teachers.
  • ... and many more.


Garo-land still was a mystery to us, but this was enjoyable for us to live together even at the age of 14. If you accept the fact that people have different culture and customs  in different parts of the world, it will be enjoyable to live anywhere in the world.



If you have any good pictures of the areas discussed here, or have any improvement suggestions please write in, I shall be thankful to you.

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