In the wonderfully diverse and very engaging Thumbprint magazine, set up by Teresa Rahman, who is also its editor, Gauraang Pradhan and I wrote of this essay on Ziro.
Gauraang begins his journey thus:
t was during my second trip to the Northeast that I decided to travel to Ziro. Some months back in Mumbai where I live, I read Ramachandra Guha’s book on Verrier Elwin.
The book prompted me to go to Shillong, where Elwin’s son Ashok showed us around his house, stuffed with the memorabilia of a life spent working with ethnic groups and recording their diverse ways of life. It was Ashok who suggested we go to Arunachal.
“You might find the Apatanis interesting,” Ashok said. He also told me about Christoph von Furer-Haimendorf, an Austrian ethnologist. Furer-Haimonderf’s interest in India developed after first reading Tagore’s work in translation.
From the 1930s, Furer-Haimonderf spent many years working with ethnic groups in Andhra Pradesh and the Northeast, especially with the Apatanis during the early 1940s. He was arrested during the World War as he had an Austrian passport. Austria was then under the Third Reich or Nazi rule.
He resumed his work later, encouraged by Elwin. His work and knowledge proved vital, especially once the Japanese moved up South east Asia towards Myanmar in 1944-45.
I did read his book, The Apa Tanis. And planned my trip.
And to find out more about the trip, the search for Nanu Tato, and the pangolin on the wall, read on here.