A “strange” world of rain and heat weathered shops along muddy paths, no, paths of mud is more correct. Paint hangs on lazily to its last corners of wooden doors and windows. Through this marketplace you will see Reang women with their beautiful, distinctive jewellery and metal totems, you will see non-tribal men inside shops – “The tribals don’t own anything, they have to sit outside”, says my guide from the Tripuri tribe. He’s probably right. I wonder how much worse off they’d be if “development” came.
A “clean” world where there are no bottles to prick shoeless feet and mud is smeared all over the legs because you’re in a marketplace not a shopping mall. It might contain illnesses, then again it might not – that’s how things are. Dirt is not dirty here. It is lining along their houses, filling the cracks up between bamboo and a smooth floor to walk on. Dirt is not covered up, disguised or taken to be anything other than dirt.
“It’s only kinky the first time” proclaims a tee-shirt on a boy who cycles past me.