Friday, December 09, 2022

Unsung heroes who kept the show running

By Our Correspondent Updated: Dec 10, 2018 11:32 pm
Neiseno Phira and Aleno Yhokha sitting around the fire outside one of the restrooms at Kisama in Kohima on Monday.

Our Correspondent

Kohima, Dec. 10 (EMN): Behind the daily Hornbill spectacle, there were some groups of people—who went largely unnoticed—but were instrumental in ensuring the visitors’ comfort every day. They were responsible for the ‘little things’ that create noiseless but major impact. Two of those groups were the restroom attendants and the sweepers—the unsung heroes of the festival.

Restroom attendants

There were four restrooms at the Naga Heritage Village in Kisama. Two were informed to be managed by the Kigwema village and the other two by Phesama village. Each of it had two segments, one for men and one for women.

While talking to Eastern Mirror, two men’s restroom attendants—Neiseno Phira, aged 53 and Aleno Yhokha aged 63—said that the village council chairman decides who would run the restroom. It was informed that the landowners who contributed the land for the creation of Kisama are allowed to take the opportunity to run the restroom, stalls, and other related activities.

The duo said that it is their second time that they got the chance to run the restroom, the first time was in 2016. They said that an income of INR 2000-3000 is earned every day.

They also shared their greviances saying that this year there was no water supply for the toilets. “We fetch water around 3 am in the morning to fill up a 500 litre water storage tank. Sometimes we end up filling only half of the water tank as we are too old and weak to fill it up. The department in concern used to supply water in the past but this year, it is very inconvenient,” said Phira and added that the army personnel donate water occasionally, when they have surplus.

Using the restroom cost INR 10 per person. “Some of the non-locals do not pay even that amount; they just ignore us and walk away. The army personnel do not even pay,” she sighed.

From 5 am onwards, the restroom attendants said, they start cleaning the toilet and further cleans it if there are any stains left on the floor, especially ‘gutkha’ or pan spit. They sit there till 9 pm or 10 pm.

Another boy by the name, Thejawheto Kuotsu, who is 13 years of age, said that it was his first time managing the restroom. He told this reporter that he earned INR 600-1000 per day from the ladies restroom.

Kuotsu also shared the problem of water shortage, adding that he fetch water early in the morning to fill up a 500 litre water tank.


Ever wondered why the area, in and around Kisama, is so clean? Well, two villages need to be appreciated for their hard work that helped keep the place clean. The villages are Kigwema village and Phesama village.

The assistant director for Tourism, Khukiye Sema, told Eastern Mirror that 30 people, 15 each from from Kigwema and Phesama village, were selected by their respective chairmen to clean the surroundings. “From 5 am to 7 am, these sweepers use to sweep the streets, and clean the entire stalls and morung. They only comprise of older people as they are more active in doing the entire work unlike the younger people,” he explained and added that each sweeper earned INR 400 as their daily wage.

“Since 2009, there are also some group of people including those sweepers, from the two villages, that pray on the road for the safety of the visitors. Till 2008, there were lots of mishaps where many people died on their way to the Hornbill Festival. Now there are lesser mishaps and I am sure that there were no reports of people dying on their way to the venue this year,” said Sema.

Truly, these groups of people are the ones—among the silent many—who makes the show run through the ‘little things’ they do behind the curtains, unnoticed.

By Our Correspondent Updated: Dec 10, 2018 11:32:04 pm