Has the coronavirus pandemic disrupted your plan to take that long trip? Is the ongoing lockdown making you crave going off-road? Fret not. If you can’t go to the highway, Rocky, Mayur, Prashant, and Abhinandan — the team behind shows like Highway On My Plate, Vital Stats of India, Jai Hind, and Rocky and Mayur's Food Xpress — will bring the highway to you!
So, here goes the newest offering from Newslaundry: Highway On My Podcast. The creators of the much loved TV travel show revisit their travels across India, sharing stories, anecdotes, trivia, and — for when the roads are open and inviting again — recommendations on food, culture, people, and much more.
In this episode, Rocky, Mayur and Abhinandan visit the “land of festivals”, Nagaland, as proclaimed by a huge gate they passed through during their travels. Mayur, who is vegetarian, talks about his struggles with finding vegetarian food during this schedule of the shoot. He describes Naga food as “heavily pungent”, thanks to the Nagas’ love for adding fermented soybean sauce and fermented yam to all their preparations. Rocky chips in with his two cents on why the food in this part of India is pungent.
Moving away from food for a bit, Abhinandan recalls the influence of the West on Nagaland and how that has led to a widespread love for rock and metal music. Rocky, once again, dives into the reason behind why the Nagas love their rock ‘n’ roll and how this love came to be.
Abhinandan says the highlight of the Nagaland trip was the wet market at Kohima’s Naga Bazaar. Unlike the infamous wet markets that led to the birth of this podcast, this wet market was very hygienic. The gang recollects the weirdest animals they saw being sold there, which included caterpillars, rodents, frogs, eels, snails, snakes and hornets, to name a few.
As the discussion about the bizarre meat sold at the Naga Bazaar progresses, Abhinandan nudges Rocky to talk about his experience of trying dog meat. Rocky was also pleasantly astonished, as he puts it, by the non-existence of caste and class barriers in and around Nagaland. Abhinandan recollects their shoot at a posh hotel with a lavish spread where Rocky, quite literally, chased his lunch. He also remembers a dish comprising pupae, caterpillars, silkworms and a specific kind of grub that only Rocky dared taste.
Abhinandan also talks about the pickles he picked up from the Dream Cafe in Kohima, and how they helped him survive bland meals back home in Delhi for the next couple of months. The Dream Cafe, Rocky says, is right opposite the Naga War Cemetery on one side and overlooks a beautiful valley on the other. Abhinandan notes how confectioneries in and around Nagaland were often a saving grace for him.
Towards the end of the journey, the team made a final pit stop at the Hornbill Music Festival where, as Mayur recollects, they came across more people packed in a stadium than they found on the streets of Nagaland. They discuss how well laid-out the festival is, offering a great opportunity to understand the cultural construct of Nagaland and also allowing visitors to experience the local culture of different tribes. Speaking of which, Rocky narrates how he participated in a “who’s the coolest warrier” contest with the Konyak tribe, only to end up with the Konyaks getting a taste of the big mad Sardar that he is.
The gang also discusses why the people of Nagaland feel alienated from the mainland, the state’s silent nights, and the locals’ love for pork.
All this and more, only on Highway On My Podcast.
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