The Apatanis are a tribe that live in Ziro, in the valley of the Subansiri River in Arunachal Pradesh. My journey to Ziro was not about sightseeing or scenery, even though I wouldn't disagree that I enjoyed these aspects of travel while I was there. My journey was about the people and their culture, about meeting and interacting with a people whose way of life intrigued me.
I had been inspired and intrigued by the work of anthropologists like Elwin and Furer-Haimendorf, and other authors like Ralph Izzard and Rabindranath Tagore who had written on the Apatani. I had learnt much from them, but hearing a people's stories and history from the people concerned, from the horse's mouth as they say, has a different charm. In my journey, I also noticed and understood many things that the literature on the Apatanis had not covered, such as the nose ring that elder women wear - the yaping hurlo.
For most part, the Apatanis are still predominantly pastoral, and the valley is clearly indicative of that as Ziro is full of rice fields. Though the landscape and scenery are undoubtedly beautiful, Ziro does not have things to 'see' or 'do' in a manner which people expect when they travel.
Even though Ziro has now entered the limelight with the launch of the Ziro Music Festival, tourists to Ziro have always been advised to go there during the farming season when fish are introduced into the rice fields or during the Dree Festival or Murung ritual when they carry out animal sacrifice. However, Ziro, because of its people, is culturally rich and because of them there is always something new that is presented to us in every moment we are in Ziro, but it depends on us making the move forward and interacting with the people and their culture.