The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

diaries kept by Ursula Graham Bower on visits to Manipur and North Cachar between 1937 and 1940

caption: Irangmukh to Kangreng
medium: diaries
person: JenapHamja
date: 29.11.1938
person: Graham Bower/ Ursula
person: private collection
text: (58) Nov. 29th Kangreng. 6.
text: Left by raft again. Next two marches reputed short, so resolved to double if we reached first camp by noon. River lovely, long deep reaches. Had two Kuki boatmen besides Hamja. One quite loopy; banished from bows, he squatted in the stern and did no work at all, merely dipping his paddle in now and again. First searched Hamja's clothes for cigarettes, found none; crawled forward, plaintively crying "Babu!" and crawled back, with fag. Later, went forward again to tell Hamja which way to go. Returned with flea in ear and sped by outraged "Tut!". Squatted down, giggled and dipped paddle for rest of trip. Other boy suddenly developed rich, musical whistle; lovely, Russian-sounding air, with long, sustained notes, grace-notes, and fine, melancholy effect. Celia noted it down, largely on Bromo. He kept up his Barak Boat-song till we reached the first camp, where we found the next instalment waiting for us. Jeff was far behind. Hamja and Jenap between them elected to push on, and Jenap gave me the money to pay the coolies. We waited (59) on a sandbank while the entire party, by ones and twos, took off its clothes and bathed in puris naturalibus all round the shore. Some very good figures revealed by this process, all which a much lighter band where the loincloth went. Regular sculptor's model among the later bathers. Jeff arrived at 12.30 p.m., and I gave him the money for the coolies, whom he paid off. We then went on with new boatmen. Half-a-mile down we found Jeff halted on a sandbank, Umaid having fouled the line with a pole in mid-rapid and made record bird's nest of all time. We halted to straighten it an then went on, arriving eventually at camp perched on usual high mud or sandbank. Discovered, during the course of afternoon, and from height at which markings were apparent, that what we had taken for clothes-line was actually deck-tennis court, "clothes-line" being local version of a net. Questioned locals and found "somebody had seen it in Imphal". Challenged locals to match. Umaid made a quoit out of coiled cane and we practised by (60) side of fire till quoit was lost down hill in dark, and at last retrieved by pleased and persevering Polly, who turned up wagging nineteen to the dozen with the thing in her mouth.
text: Jeff caught new kind of fish. He tried to draw it, not with great success; I tried, with a little more, and tinted it in watercolour by lamplight. Result looked like a whale with measles.
text: Kharram Din emerged in a.m. with voluminous pagri; elephant and Lathi-wallah arrived to say good-bye, and Kharram Din could barely be parted from them. When he reappeared on the raft, the pagri was tastefully draped as an awning, and he was reclining beneath it with Jack sitting coyly beside him. When he went off again from the tiffin-camp it took minutes to arrange the thing to keep the sun off His Highness' nose, and K.D. kept popping in and out to adjust it till the rafts were almost out of sight.