Tag: Shillong

August 19, 2018 /

JUNE 2002.
IT IS raining on the morning he leaves Shillong. It has rained for the past three days, alternating between drizzle and downpour. He looks out of the bathroom window as he brushes his teeth—grey skies, rain, pine trees on the far hills, red tin roofs—and feels an indefinable sadness in his heart. He quickly bids farewell to his mother and brother and walks through the rain with his bag to the car where his father waits.
He is dropped off at Police Bazar where a long line of Guwahati-bound Tata Sumos wait for passengers, their engines idling. A swarm of young touts encircle him as he gets down from the car; he allows one of them to lead him to the second Sumo in the line. He clambers into the last row where there is just one person at the moment.

June 26, 2018 /

What actually happened on the 31/5/2018 would be best known only to a few with whom the incident occurred. But when an incident is made sensational news for heavy sale, for political power, for organizational comeback, then facts are distorted and everyday the facts are woven into such lies that creates mayhem and breeds hatred among communities. Sad to see people reach to such a low with their vulgarities. We were known for being a loving race that respects man and God but the recent incident displayed all. Our level of tolerance was zero. All because the past Governments did not do their work all these years and one wonders why…

June 20, 2018 /

No other issue, in the recent memory, evokes the relevance of history more than the Sweepers’ Line Imbroglio. The week, following the incident of 31st May, misinformation and misrepresentation flew thick and fast. One such, being the nomenclature (name), ‘Punjabi Lane’. One does not deny the fact that there had been clashes in the past three decades, but never was it attached a communal colour, as this time round. That the situation, spin from a brawl to a communal flare up, stemmed from the ‘falsification’ of the name of the said ‘Area’, thereby unnecessarily, dragging the name of a particular community to it.

June 16, 2018 /

In #Shillong, never is #masculinity as intensively interrogated as during the World Cup…Personally, I had never developed a love for any sport, let alone football. This year’s world cup for me is a time machine. As it takes me back, I rediscover an old feeling of resilience. Each time the world cup happened, it has allowed for me to become a target of collective bullying. “Why are you such a sissy?”, “What kind of man are you?”, “Hijras like you should not be born”.

June 11, 2018 /

Hasmukh P. Modi and his wife came with their young daughter to Shillong in 1979. A Gujarati family from Rajkot, they had settled in Africa, but were forced to leave during the civil war in Ethiopia. Their quest for a suitable school for their daughter, a place where they could strike roots and establish means of livelihood ended during a holiday in Shillong. In Ethiopia, Hasmukhbhai had worked in the marketing department of French and British firms selling everything from pins to jet planes. In Shillong he decided to take up the business of his grandfather— grocery—and deal in spices imported from Kerala—cardamom, cinnamon, cloves—and from Gujarat—coriander, cumin, fenugreek and fennel seeds (jeera, methi, sauf ).

June 9, 2018 /

This essay describes socio-economic profile of the Mazhabi Sikhs (and other ‘sweeper’ Punjabis) settled at Shillong for more than a century. These safai karamcharis (sweepers) have been keeping the city clean but themselves live in worst slums. The essay tries to locate survival strategies of Punjabi sweepers in a milieu hostile to ‘outsiders’. What makes them stick together, maintain their ethnic and religious identity and resist various attempts to ‘relocate’ them.

June 4, 2018 /

I intend to go beyond the Punjab and seek to review the Mazhabi Sikh past of two important urban centres of north-eastern India. They are located in Shillong and Guwahati, and have so far escaped the attention of scholars engaged in studying the Dalit past of the region. Situated in the Khasi Hills, their early presence in Shillong goes back to the days of colonial rule, while in Guwahati of the Brahmaputra Valley they may have settled around the time of the country’s Independence. Their emergence in two different cities under dissimilar political conditions perhaps offers an interesting point for the enquiry.

June 2, 2018 /

This is the best time to read Kynpham Sing Nongkynrih’s poem Sundori, while we sit amidst angers, rumours and curfews in Shillong. Kynpham Sing Nongkynrih is the key Khasi modern poet whose rooted yet critical verses uncover the unsaid of Khasi society. Sundori was written during the troubles of 1990s when the local nationalist anger and resentment was at its peak. 

April 8, 2018 /

I was twenty-four, fresh out of University and eager to put my skills to the test. My first teaching assignment was at a private college where my cousin, upon hearing about my incursion to the relative unknown, jokingly remarked, “There are colleges for First Class students, so there must be colleges for Third Class and Simple Pass students as well. If there aren’t any of the latter, you and I can establish one. We will have many takers. ” It was also the first time that I saw women in burqas

March 31, 2018 /

The quaint hillside house was larger than it had looked from the outside and the first room led to a wide hallway. She coughed mildly as she entered the aisle, her footsteps disturbing the dust that had settled undisturbed for a long time. The dust was now dancing in spirals in thin sunbeams that seemed to magically cut across her. Her backpack felt heavy, so she slid it off and left it on the ground. There were two broken windows on the west of this long hallway, or maybe it was large enough to be a room.

January 25, 2018 /

Worried about his prolonged boozing,
His son-in-law once took him to a specialist.
Disgusted to find his parts normal and realizing
He has lost a patient, the specialist inscribed
In his report: Has been drinking for 52 years.
Naturally, I threw away all the pills he gave
Said the man who only smiles but never laughs.

January 4, 2018 /

An aspect that I have come to associate with Shillong is nostalgia; a longing for a city that once was. This relates to the colonial past, when the city was less populated, greener and cleaner, but also to a more recent postcolonial past. Among middle-aged people – those I mainly socialise with – this longing is mainly for the city of their youth; a city prior to violence and protests, a peaceful and friendly place where you go to meet a friend or watch a movie late in the evening without fear. But as many of my interlocutors lament, this ended in the 1980s with increasing ethnic conflicts, curfews, rallies and underground activities. The past – the 1960s and 70s – appears as a time of innocence, freedom and possibilities in a world that was opening up. While I suppose it is a universal feature to cling to memories of the formative period of one’s youth, Shillongites seem especially besieged by a nostalgic mood, a collective commemoration of the past. That life for many in the city has improved materially doesn’t seem to alter such cravings for the city that once was.

December 17, 2017 /

Shillong was really cold at this time of the year. A walk past any row of houses would send fumes of burning coal into the nose-that comforting, slightly toxic smell which was reassuring in the still winters. It seemed the leaves of trees would make a crackling groan when the breeze lightly blew in the evening. The hens were nestled in their coops and the puppies were huddled on old sacks, hiding away their creamy bellies.

December 5, 2017 /

“Ka Shillong, Ka Meghalaya – Jong Baroh / SHILLONG & MEGHALAYA BELONG TO ALL”
These words that appeared on placards by Shillong’s vendors at rally in June 2016. It carried a political message that is at the heart of demands for rights to livelihood and right to the city. In very plain terms the vendors stated that the city of Shillong, and the state of Meghalaya belongs to everyone. This message challenges dominant ideas of belonging in a city that has experienced decades of violence- both state and non-state- whose primary purpose has been to mark difference.

December 3, 2017 /

Sometimes, through no fault of its own, a neighbourhood picks up a bad reputation. If you happen to visit it on a singularly uneventful day, you will find it roofed with a blue sky, and dark-green pines and bamboos stooping to kiss its dusty road. And although it is true that love was made in all its wintry houses and its dead have been buried in its unruffled graveyard, you would never guess how it earned such a vague hatred from outsiders.

November 24, 2017 /

NEHU needs a change, it needs a change in the mindset on how to tackle problems and figure out solutions. We cannot just leave NEHU believing it will get better because it won’t. Sexual harassment cases are piling up, and students are too afraid to even put forth a complaint because when they do, the teachers are at times reinstated, which does not make sense and speaks of complete injustice.

November 17, 2017 /

Unlike Meghalaya, in Japan cherry blossom culture is “natural”, it has been celebrated, in some form or the other, over hundreds of years. It didn’t grow out of a need to impress tourists or to be an “international” PR event. “International” is the new buzz word which hurts my ears! And then I have to ask, why cherry blossoms? Why not ‘sohphoh’ blossoms? (a member of the apple family found widely in the Khasi-Jaintia Hills) Those blossoms are quite beautiful as well. At least the hardy and indigenous ‘sohphoh’ gives you fruits as well. Many locals use it to make jams, preserves and ciders as well so I am for the ‘non-international sohphoh’.

November 4, 2017 /

As the youngest member of my department, I am frustrated. I am frustrated for many reasons, official and non-official alike, one being this – I feel I am the biggest hypocrite in the world- I teach my students the significance of women’s rights, activism and women’s jurisdiction but in reality, I don’t even have that iota of power to stretch out my hands to them, hug them, and tell them that-We will be taking some concrete steps!

October 24, 2017 /

The Meeting resolved to start an Opt-Out campaign for those who had already enrolled in Aadhaar but who wish to withdraw their consent and with draw from the Central Data Storage which they believe that both their Bio-metric and Demographic Information are stored. The Opt-Out campaign is based on an informed opinion that the adhaar project is inherently flawed/dangerous and it is also based on the fact that now Privacy is a Fundamental Right as guaranteed in Part III of the Constitution of India so therefore the Adhaar Project infringes upon this Right and as citizens we resolved to protect our Right to Privacy by opting out of Adhaar. A sample Opt-Out Letter was drafted both in English and Khasi and distributed so that people can read, understand and decide. The Meghalaya Peoples Committee on Adhaar had fixed 30 October as a date to collect all those individual opt-out letters and send them to authorities concerned and the Committee firmly believed that this opt-out campaign will have long lasting impact on the fight against intrusion by the Power of the State on individual citizens. Individuals who wish to withdraw their consent are requested to come to KSU office at Jaiaw Shillong on the 30 October 2017 and submit their opt-out letters from 11am to 3pm.

October 21, 2017 /

He started his career in music at a very young age of 6 Years playing in church services and winning many music competitions at a very young age.
At a time when many of his school mates where preparing for their final exams, Manfulson was busy playing as a session musician in studios making music for iconic albums like those produced by the Khasi Students Union. He continued playing for bands like Conbrio and others. Meanwhile he continued playing in gospel albums produced by the Bible Society India Shillong Auxilliary and innumerable other albums.

October 16, 2017 /

I got a message from my brother that my aunt had been arrested along with 11 others for vigilante violence against two women. I’d been off Facebook and the internet and missed the news. As soon as I heard this I called my aunt to find out what was happening. She was unwell and didn’t seem to know what was happening. In fact at that point I knew more than she did, because I have internet and a smartphone, which she doesn’t . However she gave me the background to what happened. She and most of my family lives in Shillong, a city I was born in and where I spent my childhood and teens. The women of the community had organised a period of night vigils to have a say and some control of elements that they were afraid of – mostly drugs and sex work.

July 30, 2017 /

Where do I belong?
In this city that is too old
In those hills that are too cold 
Or America
But I am no burly Polish dissident 
Nor of cultivated Bengali intellect 
Or a Punjabi with a partitioned wallet 
Only a rough diamond with festers and sores 
Shall I then go to Surat? 

June 30, 2017 /

Coming out is seldom a cup of tea for anyone but I finally did to my mother when I turned eighteen this year. She was supportive but also terribly afraid of my future and my existence in the world altogether. I felt guilty and responsible when mother told me not to be vocal and admitted that her friends may laugh at us. I wondered why my actions as an adult have any bearing on my family; that is a part of societal ethos that I will never understand. 

June 30, 2017 /

I personally had many problems with the #NotInMyName Campaign for reasons that have been pointed out by many – its Brahmanical and Left elitism amongst others – and I resent that truth. But I shall also not dismiss it completely, not because I want to be complacent but because, reactionary as it is, it is a movement across sixteen locations in the country and beyond that is expressing a collective rejection of the growing fatalistic violence and brutalities unleashed on minorities, a violence that is an extension of the silent and malignant power of the BJP and its allies.

May 10, 2017 /

For the good part of two years, we have been hearing a lot of noise about the Village Administration Bill (VAB). There were protests and speeches about it, demonstrations and weary policemen. The people against it seemed to be in the majority and only the government side seriously thought it was a good idea. In Jaintia Hills, it went off fairly well and was passed without much delay or opposition.

May 9, 2017 /

I went to Pine Mount in Shillong in the seventies. I lived close to school, just behind the NCC office. So, my parents had made an arrangement with the school and I would come home to eat lunch with my mother (something I hated so, as I missed out on playtime and having lunch from a lunch box, but I was powerless and could not resist).

In the last track, “Ma Nga”, the limit of interaction between the artist, the art and the audience is stretched to its extreme. The song, personal and dark, written by Malice in Khasi, is a recounting of emotions of a person sitting on the peak of melancholy hill who is going through a severe identity crisis. The lyrics carry a very depressing, aggressive, yet powerful undertone and the composition is something that is really unique, very technical and traditional. Being a Khasi song, you’d expect the guys to dig deep into the roots of their indigenous identity in the arrangement but that element is only catalytic, and it only serves as a subsidiary to the larger plan.

April 12, 2017 /

Eddie Rynjah wrote his own material and some reports suggest that he even tried putting together something called ‘It’s you I came here for’. It’s not clear whether this is a collection of songs and there are suggestions that he did record something but despite his sister Yvonne’s best efforts, this material can’t be located anymore. So, did he become disillusioned by the limitations of a small town and never quite got over the lights of Park Street? … Many afflicted musicians before and after him have died younger but the tragedy with Eddie Rynjah was that he lived long enough to realize his immense potential but either chose not to or was not allowed to – or both.

April 11, 2017 /

Government assistance/intervention, from farm to store shelf, is crucial for the success of a product in our current predicament. Many local (agro-based) businesses which I have observed flounder after a while because they simply cannot survive the intense rigours of the competitive marketplace. It is nonsense to say that only the fittest products/brands shall survive because the winners of such competition are always backed up either by cash accumulated over many years or concessions made by governments themselves.

March 31, 2017 /

As I navigate my way through the substance of the everyday in Delhi, I become a specimen of strangeness, a piece of curiosity and sometimes, a trigger for disdain. While some sections formulate ideas of sub-oriental and exotic fantasies, some would try desperately to figure out my existence using theory, and the rest, through the sexiness of political love.