Lucky Peach – August 2015, The Fantasy Issue
I first heard about the Shidi valley from my friend Max over drinks one evening in my living room in Mumbai. He said it was the most remote place in India. The people who live there still have to carry anything they want from outside into the valley on their backs. Except for the salt, sugar, powdered milk, and oil, people here eat only what they can grow, raise, or hunt in the forest. There’s no phone and no electricity. Despite the promises of the government, and despite the fact that the valley has been part of India since 1961 when the army marched in and planted the tricolor, there is still no road.
Before Shidi even becomes a glimmer, you’ll travel for two days on two flights and two rickety tin-can buses to reach Miao (pronounced “meow”), a charmless frontier town in the tribal hill state of Arunachal Pradesh, which wraps like a mountainous stole around the floodplain of the Brahmaputra River, where China breaths cold and hard down India’s neck. Miao is where the last dusty road in India ends. From here it’s barely forty-five miles southeast to Shidi as the crow flies, and if you have the means and the patience to wait out the intermittent chopper service connecting Miao to the military outpost of Vijaynagar at the far eastern end of the valley, it will only take you another five hours once the helicopter lands to walk down to Shidi.
Read the full essay in the Summer 2015 issue of Lucky Peach: The Fantasy Issue