Don't Laugh!

by Barbara Ann Oliver

India is a diverse country with 28 states and 7 union territories. There are areas in the North East, near Bangladesh, where foreigners are not allowed to travel, and in other areas special permits are give out judiciously. We often hear of the clashes between Pakistan and India over Kashmir to the West. But there are states in the North East who want to break away from Indian rule and become independent.

Terrorism is a common fact of life here. With a population consisting of about 12% Moslem, there have been bombings during Hindu festivals and in Hindu markets. In just the past several months, hotels have been bombed, and just last week, a politician’s car was bombed. In recent years, radical Hindu groups have been responsible for killing missionaries and believers in Christ.

Sunny David (the local preacher) was explaining to me about one such bombing that had taken place in Lajpat Nagar (an outdoor market). We were standing in front of one of the stalls, and he was telling me about how people in the stall had been burned alive when a bomb exploded during a Hindu festival, when the market was crowded with shoppers. Believing that lightening can indeed strike twice, and remembering that it was, on this particular day, a Hindu festival, I caught myself inching slowly away as he relayed the story.

Several brethren who have visited us while we have been here have faced potentially serious situations getting to New Delhi. One brother, who is from Manipur, has five children, all of whom lost a whole year of education because of the fighting between the Kuki tribe (pronounced “cookie”)and the Paites.

Nepal, though not a part of India, is also plagued with internal strife. One brother who visited us brought his wife with him for protection! He was hoping that the Maoist insurrectionists would not bother him during his travels across his country if he was with his family. He also hoped the same thing of the Nepalese army!

Nepal is noted for its Gurka soldiers. In fact, at one time its major export was soldiers. The Gurkas are known for their ruthlessness and total loyalty to whomever they serve.

Back in India, the state of Nagaland is also a hotbed of strife. There are about 16 tribes. The people of one of those tribes still wear no clothes. In fact, “naga” means naked. This is gradually changing, as the children are being educated. And there are still canibals in them thar hills! So, if someone from Nagaland says he wants to have you over for dinner, run!

There is one other thing that I need to point out. If you are ever in Nagaland, and a Naga comes into town, and you happen to notice that he is naked, don’t laugh! If you laugh at him, he might take out a big knife from his belt and, swish! Your head is gone! They take great offence at being laughed at. So the next time you see someone naked, don’t laugh! He might be a Naga!

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Barbara A Oliver

Barbara Ann Oliver has worked with the church in Costa Rica for many years and serves as the associate editor for Forthright Magazine.

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