It was not so long ago in the early 1980s that just a few fortunate students got the opportunity through the government entrance exams to come to Chennai for better education and higher technical learning. In 1985 a students’ union was formed.
Today the number of people staying in Chennai is more than 400 and it increases with every passing year as students stay back for better job opportunities.
“I came here 15 years ago to get a job. I found the city and the lifestyle of people much better than in most places I have been to,” said Takameren Longkumer, who is settled in Chennai and is working in a private company.
The Nagas became content with living in Chennai both as students and as workers. “The best thing about being settled in Chennai is that I will see my children get proper education in good schools and that they will have a future full of hope,” said Ramreingam Vashum, a government employee.
“Everything about the city is so good. The people are hard working and generous, there is no class distinction and now I have finally adapted to the weather. However, the only thing that bothers me is the traffic and the speeding of vehicles on highways,” said Takameren.
The first NCFC service was held in the year 1985 at English Wesley Church in St. Thomas Mount. From then till the present day, NCFC has been conducting service at different churches with the guidance and generosity of the local people. Now NCFC service is conducted at Vepery Church Egmore.
“It is only because of the local people that we are able to perform our duties to God as we cannot afford to buy a land as most of the Nagas are students. The Sunday service is held to encourage each other to excel and learn from the Gospel and also to remind ourselves the purpose of coming here,” said Wapangtoshi pastor of NCFC about the Naga service in Chennai.
Going gaga over naga cuisine
Naga reju, a small Naga restaurant with its tagline “A little far away from home” was opened by Maong Jamir six years ago when he realised the need of Naga food for the Nagas residing in Chennai.
“I came to Chennai in 1999 as a management student and during my stay I started missing home food and Naga dishes. Thus, after my studies, I decided to open a Naga restaurant that provided Naga dishes as the Naga population started increasing,” said Maong Jamir.
Naga Reju — ‘Reju’ meaning tribal house — was also opened to make people aware of Naga dishes and its specialities, much like South Hotel in Dimapur, Nagaland, where you get south Indian dishes such as idli and dosa for the south Indians settled in Nagaland.
Bamboo shoot and king chilli are the special ingredients of Naga dishes. King chilli, which is also known as Naga Mircha, is the hottest chilli in the world and is a favoured ingredient for most of the dishes.
“Curiosity about Naga food is always the first thing we hear from people who come to our restaurant for the first time,” said Maong Jamir.