The article was published in The Alternative
Text Gana Kedlaya; Images Kaushik Bajibab
Coming to the “clean” part – the village is undeniably spotless. “The cleanest village in Asia tag is something we have been endowed with quite recently.
Cleanliness is something innate. In this village, we all believe in being one with nature. We have grown to respect our surrounding, the water, and land. That’s why majority of us find it challenging to survive anywhere else but here,” says Rick, who refuses to endure two days in polluted, loud and glossy cities. The villagers are almost self-sustained. “We are all of 518 people. We grow our own food, our water source is 25 km from the forest, and those who are not farming are working in the tourism sector,” explains Henry.
But there is a flip side. Being christened the cleanest village in Asia has gifted this tiny town a healthy economy, but not without a cost. On an average, there are at least 40-60 tourist vehicles that enter the village, for a quick tour. This is that bitter sweet truth – the irony that we humans are so symbolic of – most tourists come to watch the ‘cleanest’ village and think nothing of leaving a ton of garbage behind. It’s very frustrating and disappointing to see loads of plastic wrappers, bottles and paper discarded by the side of the road (leading to the village) by tourists. Locals don’t admonish them, “We just try to set an example, and hope everyone follows. We burn the excess garbage (non-biodegradable waste) every week,” says a local, who confirms that once in a few weeks, everyone gets together to clean up the mess.
Elemental, nature loving, and simple living – a few characters suggestive of everything Mawlynnong, can get quite infectious. Let’s remember, we are just visitors, and as guests – the least we can do is adhere to their ways of living. Take cue, get inspired and soak in the quiet, relaxing atmosphere – walk away with pleasant memories, leaving behind “nothing” but encouragement and support.
Leave no trace!