Tuesday, July 12, 2011

So many languages in Nagaland...

I went back to Nagaland for the fourth time in December 2010 to arrange for the folktales collected on the last visit to be transcribed in the Naga languages for INTACH, and also to follow up on the proposal for support from the State Government for the production of the short film – the animated folktale of Man, Tiger and Spirit.  It was a challenging visit that began with an unfortunate incident met on arriving in the Northeast;  As the Northeast Express train from Delhi crawled into  Guwahati railway station more than ten hours late, thieves suddenly appeared and my luggage was whisked off.   Without a second thought I pursued them down the dark railway track, but this proved to be a foolish mistake,  as I was mugged and my handbag was ripped from me.  It contained everything of importance for the trip, so within minutes I found myself stranded without a single rupee, no documents of identification and no contacts or mobile phone. 

After the first traumatic days, things began to fall into place.  I was able withdraw a little money from my account in Delhi and I decided to continue onto Nagaland as planned and see what could be achieved.   The next challege was the discovery that almost every village in Nagaland has its own dialect which would make it much harder to complete the task.   The Government Language Department in Kohima had some language officers, but neither computers nor audio equipment to listen to the recordings I had made; In addition as Nagas do not have a history of writing, and it proved hard reach  a consensus on spelling.  Fortunately people were helpful, and in Kohima and Dimapur my contacts had some internet facilities.   Although the job was not achieved in its entirety, by the time I left Nagaland  I felt confident that it would be possible to get the few remaining stories emailed to me in the mother tongue languages.

I received a pleasant surprise when I heard that the Department of Art and Culture would support the the short film.    I was expected to involve young people in Nagaland in the project as far as possible, and I made as many contacts as I could with anyone with digital skills as  I would be back next year to fulfill my promise.    The short film will use a complex high-end 3D software to recreate and animate sculptures in a virtual world inspired by Naga art, and it would be difficult to find anyone with the skills to help out;  the only young Naga 3D animator that I knew had taken a job as a graphic designer in the Health Department and it seemed unlikely that he would be able to help, but I knew some enthusiastic musicians in Kohima who wanted to compose the musical track.  Next time I would have to come with my 3D workstation and stay for an extended period in  either  Kohima or in Dimapur and engage some assistance for completing the short film.

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