One Sunday, as I went out running in Aizawl, the capital of Mizoram, I saw two youngsters dragging large thermocol boxes behind them. They would sweep the road and dump the debris into the boxes. Another woman was sweeping the street in front of her shop. A girl was sweeping in front of her house. A man and a woman were sweeping the road before the Programme Planning and Implementation office. None of them were professional sweepers, just regular citizens pitching in to keep the city clean.
What I was seeing in action was the Mizo notion of 'tlawmngaihna' – selfless service or putting others' welfare above one's self-interest. I came to marvel at how clean Mizo people kept their villages and cities.
On my early morning runs, I would also see the tea stalls come to life – except some of them, I realised, serve milk. One morning, I saw a man sitting on the road with a big paint can and a kettle. The can contained boiled eggs and glass tumblers. The kettle contained milk. A woman, who was setting up shop next to him, sipped the milk, but also carried a flask of tea, or as it is called here, Thingpui.
Boiled eggs, incidentally, are a staple in the state. Stop in eateries and you will find some have bowls of boiled eggs on every table.