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Day 40 of The Candid Odyssey

We are being dropped off from the bus somewhere at Silchar in Assam in the early morning. Silchar is more like a connecting city. So, as you can expect, we are here to get a ride to some other place. And that place is Imphal, Manipur. Another state, of course. We get to the taxi stand, find the right people, and then let's get started. Not the journey, but bargaining. See there are a lot of agents and operators who are there quoting up to 3 times the actual price. We need to get to the bottom. We have got time because the trip to Imphal is going to take around 11 hours and the shared taxis will only start the trip after an hour. Yes, that's too long of a trip, and today is going to be one more all-day travel day.

Even after waiting a long time, the shared taxi that we are in didn't get many customers today. Only three passengers, even though the taxi can accommodate up to eight. For us, it's beneficial, because we have enough space to sit and relax. But that doesn't last for long. After a couple of hours, things get tough. It starts from the Manipur border. We need to comply with some checks and get approved permits to get inside that state. We didn't need it anywhere else so far. And then as we move ahead, the behavior of the road changes drastically. The road gets more rugged and is shaking us continuously for hundreds of kilometers. It's because we are going through hilly terrains and there are no specific roads as such even though some places show some signs of construction. Whatever it is, our body can't understand that, right? The back is aching like never before. Hats off to the drivers who go through this every day! Their case is worse. Throughout the trip, they have to give money at multiple unauthorized checkpoints. Also, we can see at least one armed military soldier once every kilometer or so. But during the evening, there is no light anywhere in this region. All darkness except the light of our taxi. All these give us a feeling that we are getting into some trouble. Beware! 

By late evening, we reach Imphal, the capital city of Manipur. We are totally exhausted right now. Also feeling hungry because we only had a small meal at noon. It's getting late. So, before getting food, we need to get an accommodation. Nothing is available online. One of the co-passengers is also accompanying us. He also needs a room. So, we stroll across the city, enquiring for vacant rooms at all open lodges and hotels. After checking with 5-6 stays, we get one room. We let the co-passenger take that because he looks more tired. We will continue the search on our own now. 

As we get inside the markets and streets, the ambiance changes totally. It gets more sketchier. We can't proceed without getting help from the locals. So we go inside a small restaurant and ask for nearby lodges. Only after getting inside, did we get to know that it wasn't a restaurant, it was a liquor shop. Oh, trapped. We need to get out immediately. But one drunk guy is now following us. Trapped again. He acts like a helping hand, but the intent changes quickly. He gets hold of our hand, is asking for money, and is threatening us. In short, assault! There is also no one else nearby, so screaming won't help us. How about making use of the pepper spray that we have in our pocket? It also won't be good because we have no idea what he has in his pocket. Also, he can go back and call out his gang immediately, and make things even more worse. The only option is to talk things out peacefully. After multiple attempts, he leaves the hand. We take out our wallet, do some hand magic to hide our money, act poor (which is somewhat true though), and give him a 50 rupees note. Fortunately, he is happy, we are safe, and all good now. It's our first and only time getting assaulted in our journey and we handled it well. We controlled the fear and anger, chose the peaceful approach, and ended everything there. When we win with violence, it brings victory. But when we win with non-violence, it brings victory and peace. Well done, I am proud of you :)

Even though we are safe now, that doesn't make us feel safe. We still don't have an accommodation set and the streets are also getting lonelier as time passes by. We also need to watch out all around us for more such threats. It's also making us very nervous. As we keenly look around the surroundings for the threats, we forget to look down the drainage that we are walking on top of. Guess what, one slab is broken and we fall down into that drainage water! Waste and wastewater up to the knees. Our shoes and pants have turned all black, got a foul smell, and it's no longer usable. But we have to walk with it until we find a lodge. With a few more enquiries, we finally have a room at Santosh Lodge. I know we haven't eaten anything. Sorry, we have to suffice with the backup biscuits for now. Today was the worst day of our journey. Let's hope for a better tomorrow. 

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