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  • Writer's pictureVoita

Entrepreneurship in Arunachal (APd1)

The eastern edge of the mountains is tantalizingly close, even if I cannot go all the way. Which is a shame, since - a shocking surprise - everyone says 'it's a very pretty area'... In the right moment, I'll head over as far as clashing political agendas allow me to. There's no need for rush as after with tourists overflowing Nepal and Sikkim, I'm finally... out.

first impressions of Pasighat

eastern Himalaya foothills

Arunachal is waking up to a fight for its own rights and land. Katon is from second generation in his family, whose members he can name 37 generations back, to receive formal schooling. And he took it properly, all the way to an engineering degree. His traineeship in Japan got cancelled due to covid, but he managed to visit for several months nonetheless, as well as Bali, where he went to learn about new techniques to use bamboo for building. His reaction was - 'rather than all that chemistry, I'll stick to our traditional way, even if the structures last only five instead of twenty years.'

In my mind he is a younger version of Shiva from Nepal.

Katon's office

factory and family houses around it

He expanded on his yesterday's stories of eaten relatives with stories of ancestors tortured by the British. As he himself remarks, even his grandparents still lived in a medieval world and now, within two generations, they're trying to catch up to the world. Theirs is the world of unlimited possibilities, forged in hard work and determination.

Katon

Mone, Katon's Sensei (r)

On the first day our steps lead to his water factory. What a symbolic start from a scratch.

After two years of dealing in paperwork, permits and other preparatory work, he spent a year and a half building a hangar to house the project. Now, more than three years in, he's finally receiving a shipment of machines to get the assembly line laid down. It's being brought over from the westernmost part of India, over 2.000 miles. Monsoon and the road conditions turned the projected two delivery days into five.

Which is lucky for me, since I get to see the buzz.

offloading begins

fully manual

Most of his family came to have a look at what's going on. Entrepreneurship is about as recognized source of living as writing sci-fi novels was a hundred years ago or making YouTube videos is nowadays. And so he explains everything, with endless patience and enthusiasm, over and over - 'this will be yours, we'll own a water purification plant'. He insists on hiring family members and locals, to retain finances in AP (Arunachal Pradesh, the state's full name), even if they lack any qualifications.

compressor needs an extra hand


Everyone is excited to help unloading the truck. Hired crane towers over the hangar's entrance, which makes it necessary to carry everything inside by hand. The pinnacle of the several hours of muscular labour is a few tonnes of a construction, getting unloaded under the cover of stars. With a diligent help of the crane, the whole family succeeds in pushing it over the entrance.

cheering (filming) crowd

the final op

With the family members, we're so far curiously checking each other out. Without Katon's help we can barely exchange pleasantries. There's over two dozen languages spoken here, but English isn't one of them. Well, I'll have two to three weeks to find other ways.

may the assembly line take off 🍀

cleanup

Points to expand on in the future:

  • traditional lifestyle

  • banana leaf plates and spiciest chilli I've ever had

  • a night hunt for an aromatic weed to eat leading to a discovery that a cow ate it first


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