DINNER AT RANJANA’S
David was showing his footage of the Army rape case and of the ASEAN Motor Car Rally. When colorful dancers and martial artists appear in the stadium for the latter, Erin and I exchange looks. “Republic Day art,” I say derisively. “Just the opposite of what we are doing.”
Yoshiko and Bonnie ask about the rape case and the women Meira Paibis’ shocking nude protest. What happened? How did the people respond? How did the news spread?
Ranjana turns to Rajesh and asks him to explain. Rajesh defers. David struggles to articulate. I am disheartened. What is the point of all their activism if they are reluctant or refuse to make their case to sympathetic, neutral foreign observers? I think it is mainly because they know too much and have little experience talking about the situation to outsiders. Perhaps they do not know how little the questioner knows.
The need to set up this kind of exchange, to enable a new articulation, is a key reason for this Field Trip.
The dinner spread is magnificent. Ranjana has even gotten the olives I asked for. But she, like everyone else, has gone way overboard. I had suggested only a few dishes and she lays out fifteen.
Bonnie takes her plate and eats by herself in front of the TV. She watches more footage. I am touched.
It is her and Yoshiko’s first time in India. I wonder what Zette, Mike and Erin think about the political situation in Manipur. They have so many Indian friends, so many wonderful Indian experiences. How will they process it all, back home in New York?
RANJANA’S DINNER MENU
Porong fish with peas and chives
Porong Hawai-tharakka Thongba
Fried Rou Fish Curry
Rou Taoraga Thongba
Breast of Rou Fish with Peas and Green Chilies
Rou Matha Hawai-tharakka
Balls of Roe with Fresh Peas and Lentil Flour
Nga Marum Bora
Stir-fried Bitter Fish Gizzard
Cauliflower and Fresh Whole Peas Stew
Kobi Thamchet manbi Hawai-tharak Kangsoi
String Beans and Roasted Fish Stew
Hawai Uri Ngamu Leirou Kangsoi
Black Lentils with Aroid seasoned with Vegetable Ash
Sagolhawai Pan Uti
Mushroom Bean Cake
Bitter Mustard Greens
Kang’gam Yela Cham’phut
Bitter Mustard Greens Pot Liquor
Hang’gam Cham’phut Mahi
Roasted Water Rice
Bitter Nomankha with Raw Cane Sugar
Freshly Ground Mustard with Whole Green Chilies
Freshly Ground Mustard with Fish and Whole Green Chilies
Nga Hang’gam Achaar
Stewed Wild Olives
Stewed Whole Wild Sour Apples
Native Black Phourel Rice