Dear Ezra and Lian,
My friend Stuart Spani was in the first group of tourists to visit Mizoram in 1996 after travel restrictions were lifted. We used to be tied with 7 Mizoram visits each, but he has passed me now and has 12. He has created Bye Bye Malaria http://www.malaria-defeated.org/clinics2.html the work the Dawnga, Stuart and I built to try and end malaria in Mizoram. Unsurprisingly, Mizoram’s greatest friend created Friends of Mizoram http://www.friends-of-mizoram.org/about1.html He told me about his first trip there.
After a very long trip over bumpy, winding, dangerous roads through the mountains of Mizoram, he safely arrived at his destination. In appreciation, he gave his driver a tip. A few minutes later, the driver returned to him in tears. The man returned the money sobbing. He tried to explain that he was an honest man and could not accept more than a fair price for his labour. He is a typical Mizo, even till my last trip in 2008. One of the most difficult tasks, I have faced is trying to tip drivers in Mizoram. Most refused to take it. After spending 10 hours in a vehicle with friends and family, on mountain roads with no guard-rails, I’m extremely grateful to see us all alive. I have to be very creative to get money into the drivers’ pockets. The money is for their kids, wife, church, their sick relative; anyone but themselves.
Once I left my muddy hiking boots in a house on the way back from Chawngte. The next day, they showed up at Dawnga’s house in Lunglei, except they were spotlessly clean. When I helped organize Canadian university teams to visit, a lost passport was returned. A missing wallet appeared with no money missing. This is the honest-to-goodness truth about the common people in Mizoram. You come from an honest and good people. Don’t forget it.