Mrs. Grimwood: From Sylhet to Manipur- C.1890
Mrs. Grimwood [c.1890] gives a vivid description of the journey they had taken to reach Manipur. From Sylhet, it took them 16 days to reach the remote kingdom. First, they started in a boat. A nightlong boat journey it was with a romantic moon giving it a dreamy look. Then came the second phase: a journey on horseback. One interesting event she mentions was that of the reluctant coolies leaving their job and escaping. The coolies had in one voice protested that the Memsahib’s boxes were too big, awkward and unwieldy. But they could not disobey an English officer’s orders. So, reluctantly though, they had started carrying the bundles employing as many as three for one particularly bulky box.
A few miles down the route, something lying by the road struck Mrs. Grimwood. And she was right. It was one of her boxes. But bigger surprises were awaiting her. A little distance from there, all their belongings were lying by roadside and there were no signs of the coolies. They had left the job and made themselves scarce leaving the luggage there. They would rather live incognito in different localities than carry the unmanageable loads. Mr. Grimwood had to, with the help of the local thana, hire a new set of coolies from among the villagers there and make them carry the luggage without allowing them to stray beyond his eyes.
It took them a few days to reach Silchar where the European officers gave them a warm welcome. They stayed there a day or two before finally starting for Manipur. The coolies now were some Nagas and Kukis. While the Nagas had fascinating haircuts, the Kukis had worn long hairs in nape buns. These people did not make a fuss about the unwieldiness of the boxes. Continue Reading