It was my fresher year in Delhi. Dr. Thangtea, the then Education Minister was the Chief Guest for the DMZP fresher meet. As much as I respect the guy and his achievements, I grunted when he mentioned a particular topic during his well prepared speech. He talked about the Japanese people and their perseverance and self discipline and mentioned with great enthusiasm about how they even restrain themselves from eating salt. I snorted. On the way back, B.Zara, a senior and a friend disagreed passionately on the salt-restraining trait of the Japanese. I grinned, I am going to like this guy not because he ‘beaked’ his lips when he speaks with a ‘certain’ sing song accent or because he walks with a certain gait (Sorry, Pu Kel)… but because he also has a passion for salt.
Darwin believed that humans have an ape-ancestry. I prefer the biblical beginning. But if I have to argue that I have an animal ancestry, I will have to say that I have a goat-ancestry. Because I cannot live without salt! And I don’t mean just without salty food, I mean without licking salt!
Asangba, a Naga friend of mine and a great cook often invites me for lunch and dinner. And no matter how well cooked and well seasoned the dishes are, I’ll always hunt around for salt after having a morsel. And once I do, he’ll start worrying and follow me with strings of “Isn’t it salty enough?” questions. I usually just tell him I need to lick salt. Puzzled, he asked me once “Zuali, I’ve seen you cook, I’ve eaten Mizo food too. And your dishes are never that salty!!” I grinned “We, Mizos are the licking tribe”. Now, every time I get invited to taste his cooking, he’ll always make sure that the salt container is right next to me ‘lest the Mizo belle loses her appetite’.
Have you ever noticed that in traditional Mizo feasts, there will always be a packet or a plate of salt with a teaspoon at the end of the buffet. I have noticed this is not so with other tribes or people. Back in my college days, my best friends were mixtures of Khasis, Nagas and Garos. And I get invited a lot to their traditional festivals and feasts. I’ve noticed, they never have free flowing salt at the end of the buffet table. And there came a time when I finally got around to bringing a mini container of salt for myself whenever I get invited to such buffet feasts. The heights!!!
Last summer, a Mizo couple got married here in Delhi. The wedding feast was catered and the wedding party happened on the Army Cantonment grounds. And since it was catered, we didn’t eat Mizo food. While we were on the buffet line piling our plates with food, two Mizo aunties who were just in front of me started complaining that there was no salt in the buffet. I grinned!!
Maybe it’s just one of the things that we, Mizos as a whole, generally practice. I don’t know if we all agree on that.
But we do agree that Mizos sing well… right!? :D
A garo friend of mine once mentioned that Mizos have big heads! I shot him an acidic glare…"Mizos have big heads to contain the extra brains that we have unlike Garos whose brains are painfully miniscule that even their small heads are hollow .”
Well, that argument is another story altogether.