BENGALURU: I panicked as our bus came to a sudden halt in the middle of nowhere. The roads were extremely bumpy and tapered. It was quiet as darkness had engulfed the mountain we were stranded on. We got down from the bus to see our 19-year-old driver hurling abuses in Khasi language. Noticing our confused looks, our translators came forward and told us that the road ahead was not fit to be driven on and the bus could go no further. The only option was to take a reverse. However, the road was too narrow and going back was risky and could result in an accident. Our driver, however, was ready to take the risk. My heart skipped a beat at the thought of what might happen. I shut my eyes tight and opened it only when I heard everyone cheer. The bus had made it. And before I knew it, I was fast asleep.
I was woken up by the sweet sound of whistling. We had reached our destination — Kong Thong village. Situated south of Shillong, it is a small village with about 110 families. I couldn’t stop myself from gawking at its beauty. The cemented pathways gave the village a very romantic look, getting one to imagine couples walking down that way, hand in hand. The greenery made the cottage-like houses stand out even more.
The whistling brought to us the notes of “Jinrwai Iawbei”, a traditional lullaby. The notes, which haven’t been codified, differ from household to household. The mothers have a whistle for each child and the sounds are indeed beautiful. No one but the child can decipher what exactly the whistle notes mean.
After we freshened up, our translators Dondor Nongrum and Cornelius, both from Shillong, took us around the village. There were young children running around and there were many playful hens, roosters and dogs.
Everyone and everything seemed so alive. The beautiful houses were made by the villagers themselves. The ceilings were made of wood and the doors bamboo. The village crested a mountain top, making one feel right on top of the world.
We also learnt that the 16-member Tourism Co-operative Society of the village was working on constructing two guest houses close to the enormous football field at the tip of the hill.
Kong Thong would make for an ideal tourist destination. A walk in the morning is like attending an impromptu concert as one can hear the villagers whistling and singing as they carry their baskets and do their errands. As parents head towards the stream to get water, children happily prance alongside and blush when tourists wave at them.
Our three days at the village flew by very fast. We had got so attached to everyone and everything that it was hard to say goodbye. As I got into the bus, I knew the sound of the sweet whistling would travel with me.