Blog on Nagaland Animation Film
One forgets just how hard it is to reach Nagaland. I was reminded on my fifth visit in July, 2011. After the last trip to the Northeast, I promised that I would only travel on the Rajdhani train; it has a reputation for being safe – armed guards patrol the train at regular intervals and there are extra doors into the carriages to separate one from the hostile world outside. I booked the train on the internet six weeks ago, and felt assured that, though on the waiting list, I would be provided a berth. It was a formidable task to get my entire luggage onto the right platform – I was bringing all the equipment I would need for animation film production, which included my large workstation, UPS and screen.
There was pandemonium as usual at New Delhi railway station when the train came into the platform and I ran around frantically looking for the Ticket Inspector to find out about my seat. The clock was ticking but at last I found the inspector. I showed him my e-ticket and he began screaming at me, threatening not to allow me on the train. In desperation, I hunted all over for the Station Master, and then returned to the platform. The train had started moving and I jumped aboard somehow with all the luggage: There was no way I could not be on that train, having booked six weeks ago, how would I ever be able to get a new booking at any time in the near future? The Inspector continued to shout at me, threatening to put me off at the first stop - which would be Khanpur. Remembering the bitter experience of the robbery in Guwahati and knowing of the notorious reputation of Khanpur, I firmly retorted that as I was a single foreign female, I would not be getting off at Khanpur under any circumstances.
The Inspector continued to bully me until at last I took out money – twice the original fare. Immediately his attitude changed and nothing was too much trouble. The Inspector made a grand show of giving me a receipt and insisting that I signed a paper declaring no grievances. But I had them: How was one to get to Nagaland if booking six weeks ahead could not secure a seat? This was person who had been ready to turn me out mercilessly into an unsavoury situation and I felt helpless, insecure and taken advantage of; I consoled myself with the thought that this is a prevalent situation experienced in India by common people who will get nowhere unless they pay.
The Rajdhani was only two hours late, and I arrived at Dimapur railway station 35 hours later at 1am, to be met by my friend Yanger, who to my great relief whisked me and the unfeasible luggage away to his house in Duncan Bosti.
Four days later I moved to the North East Zone Culture Centre, 3.5 miles out of Dimapur near the airport. I had visited the Centre on previous trips to Nagaland, but as the friendly Director, Hekali Zhimoni , had been transferred elsewhere, I had not thought to be in touch - until I become a friend of NEZCC on Facebook.
NEZCC’s presence on Facebook indicated vitality to me; it was unusual for a Government institution in Nagaland to be so modern, and I was prompted to send a proposal to the new Director, Som Kamie, for collaboration, with NEZCC as a local facilitator for the project. I requested a workspace with a backup power supply and contacts with young creative people in Nagaland. The response was prompt and it was encouraging, and I felt elated on meeting the young Director, spending an hour explaining the project to him: What really made a lasting impression was that he had heard of, and appreciated my hero, Verrier Elwin.
I have now been at the Centre for two days. I have set up my workstation in a large airy room and I am staying in the guesthouse. The Centre is almost in jungle and the night comes alive with the sound of insects - I must remember to recreate this atmosphere in the film. As I sit alone steering through the virtual world that I am creating, I have ample time to reflect: Contemplation and animation go together. I hope that every person will discover what makes them tick, and then follow that passion. I am thankful for having discovered such a rewarding outlet for inherent creativity in the tools of 3D animation. I am absorbed so completely that I cease to notice the hours racing by. I am reluctant to disturb myself even for tea, and conclude that animation is a divine activity that brings a soul closer to itself. I would like to convey this to young Nagas that aspire to create animated worlds of their own, but how can one transpose this realization to another? It is to be experienced, and it is as close as I get to satisfaction.