The early morning greeted us with raindrops. We departed Dimapur in a drizzly haze and made our way towards Imphal. The distance was hardly much, but the winding hilly roads made for a longer drive time.

Along the road, were signs that read out playful warnings to drive safely. A few that I can recall include..
“What is the definition of tomorrow?
Your reward for driving safely today”
“The driver is safe when the roads are dry and the roads are safe when the driver is dry”
“Please go slow unless you have an urgent meeting with God”
Some much needed humour, on an otherwise gloomy morning.

We passed through Kohima, the capital city of Nagaland. It became obviously clear to me, that Nagaland as a state is extremely deprived. Even the large cities came across as run down. With small shanty like homes with tin roofs, abandoned workshops and vehicle frames randomly strewn about on the main road. If that wasn’t bad enough, armed military personnel were strategically positioned throughout, every 500 meters all the way to Imphal. I’m still not sure if their presence made me feel safer or a bit more anxious than I normally would be…but the the tremendous respect I hold for these men still runs strong.

Halfway between Kohima and Imphal, we stopped at a wayside dhaba for a bite. When we realised there weren’t any vegetarian options for mum, we decided to cook biryani! The family run dhaba owner was extremely sporting and let us borrow their kitchen, utensils and ingredients. We used Sajeev Kapoor’s Khazana collection biryani masala for a quick fix meal. These people had never eaten biryani before so we were determined to make a lasting impression with ours. Since all the necessary ingredients were not available, we had to improvise. Vivek used his culinary expertise to whip up a pretty good biryani, considering our limited resources. The locals found it to be tasty and I personally found the experience to be extremely rewarding.

It wasn’t until after lunch that the sun decided to come out and play. The hills were bathed in green and gold and it was as though somehow, biryani saved the day!

We ended day 8 with a visit to the rotary club of Imphal where we exchanged club flags and gave a quick talk about organ donation. We were given such a warm welcome despite dropping in unannounced. It was heart-warming, to say the least.