On our first trip to Meghalaya, five years ago, we did not come down towards Mawlynnong (maw=stone, lynnong=scattered, in Khasi) and Dawki on the Bangladesh border. When you start planning a trip to this state, you cannot miss mention of Mawlynnong, supposedly the cleanest village in Asia. This time round The Family and I considered staying in a home-stay in this village and exploring nearby Dawki and the Umngot river as well as Pynursia and its spectacular living root bridges from this base. That did not happen, but we came here with the clan for lunch.
Walking through the village is a pleasure. I wouldn’t know how to judge a cleanest village contest, but this is undoubtedly clean. There are dustbins made of woven cane (featured photo) every so often, and there is no plastic visible at the edges of paths. The place looks and smells clean. The large number of tourists included mothers scolding their children for dirtying the place, and telling them to pick up things and put them in dustbins. I hope these are lessons which are carried back to the rest of India. Even Shillong, only about 80 Kms away, would gain from it. I suppose tourism has its problems, but the number of home-stays in this village is so large, that I think they can’t do without it.
The church did not look like it played a major social role in the life of the village. Perhaps that is because it is less than a year old. The snowy tree was made from cotton wool, and also the cotton wool “snowman” next to it. I wonder how it is that a religion which started in West Asia and grew for a few hundred years in south-east Europe is now so firmly north European that even when it is exported to a tropical rain forest it brings symbols of snow along with its major festival. In any case, it is being localized again, as you can see by the fact that this cottonman’s eyes are made of mosquito coils.
Some of the clan saw this tree house or watch tower and decided to climb it. Everything is a little slow because of queues of tourists, but when The Family eventually came down again she had a marvelous photo looking southwards. In the photo you can faintly see the plains of Bangladesh over the line of trees, with the glint of rivers seen through the blue haze. We were perhaps 10 kilometers from the border.