“Why can’t your people keep your villages as neat as your agricultural fields?” a friend asked me when I was proudly showing him around in one of the Apatani villages some years back. When the officers and leaders of Ziro area took Kapil Sibal, then Indian Minister for Science and Technology to an Apatani village, he is said to have remarked, “This is a slum.”
The working section of the Apatani people spends 98% of their daylight hours in the agricultural fields or in the jungles. They leave the villages at day-break and return home at dusk. No wonder, the agricultural fields and the bamboo gardens are cared for in a better way than the village neighborhood.
The scene, happily, is changing. Following is a picture of Hija village I took yesterday when a senior friend from Delhi visited Ziro. “The villages are very neat and the children are so fair,” was his remark. These villages having recently celebrated the Myoko festival are richly decorated - with small babos and big babos, lapangs and nagos of different designs and newly carpeted roads.
Since the summer weather is still so pleasant, it is a sheer pleasure to walk around the Apatani villages these days. Watch the children playing, the older people taking rest on the simbyas and occasional young person returning home with a bundle of firewood. Chickens and dogs, which played a major role in dirtying the neighborhood, are rarely seen now.
These days, houses with innovative designs are coming up in the villages. However, those built mainly with concrete stand out grotesquely. The main component of innovation, therefore, could be retaining the traditional touches in any design.