“Uncle” Patea once told me this joke. Here’s my re-telling.
There was a Mizo man who decided that he was going to travel around the world. He packed his bags and got on a shared jeep to leave Mizoram for his year long trip.
Shortly after the jeep crossed over the Mizoram border and long before he reached Silchar even, he asked to be let down. He caught a ride going back home.
The next day, his friends back home were surprised to see him, already returned. They asked him, “What happened? I thought you were going to travel around the world?”
“Oh, yes” he said. Then he sighed, “But, I was missing the bai. (Mizo curry-soup, eaten with rice.)
The story tells so many truths about the Mizo people. I mean this in the best possible way, but Mizos are very much like Hobbits (very beautiful and handsome ones). Not only are they both short, but they are incredible homebodies. They know what they like and all that is found in Mizoram. There are very few Frodos or Bilbos amongst them.
The world all around them is filled with chaos and evil. For the most part, in Mizoram there is peace, tea and good food. No matter what interesting things lie beyond those hills, nothing calls them like the comforts of home. Having spent so much time there myself, it is very hard for even me to leave or stay away.
It is strange to say it, but of all the places in the world, we would be safer to walk the streets anywhere in Mizoram, then to even walk the streets of my hometown. Even though it is not as safe as it used to be, it is far better than here in Pickering and many other places in Canada. Violence happens within a block of us that doesn’t even make it into the paper. If it happened in Mizoram, it would be talked about in the Mizoram state assembly.
Almost every major city in India has a Mizoram House. Where there isn’t one, the home of the “senior” family is like an embassy for Mizo people. Mizos will seek out these places when they arrive. They are craving Mizo food, conversation, help and familiarity. It’s a safe place. Your grandparents place in Pune, Maharashtra was like that.
If the world were Middle Earth, then The Shire is Mizoram. No matter what adventures they experience in this wide world, a true Mizo/Hobbit always yearns to return. Tasting bai again is just an excuse. Your grandfather spent an entire eventful career outside of Mizoram. He retired as a Deputy General of Police. Now he lives on top of a hill in Aizawl. One day, when we have elevenses, you will see what I mean.