So you want the book they won’t have heard at Jaipur Love Fest here lies the contraband
Read and then curse
With the collapse of The Shillong Times Archive – admin found this on Orkut, a minor footnote in our shillong controversies. We begin with Tarun Bhartiya’s initial piece on Shillong Chamber Choir and India Has Got Talent (published on 14th October 2010) – slightly overstated but keeping in line with his usual take on reality show (see his more obnoxious Omit Amit piece here). This piece got some sharp reactions in the paper – including an op-ed by the editor (Alas all lost in the web).
There were two notable responses to the piece in Khasi Press one by Wait Prat Shakhmat (Who are you) in Mawphor and other by Khulom Ksiar G. N. War in Every Khasi paper.
By Tarun Bhartiya
True memories seemed like phantoms, while false memories were so convincing that they replaced reality. Strange Pilgrims (1992) Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Just before you omit Amit Paul from your memories, remember the shock when Prashant Tamang won? Remember the conversations? Remember the anger at realizing that in the contest of mediocrity, the worse mediocre won just because his supporters, corrupt politicians, contractors and businessmen outspent our own corrupt politicians, contractors and businessmen? I am sure, our memories must be getting repeated in Arunachal Pradesh, whose Teji Toko was the focus of all the complaints of the viewers of a low TRP rated programme called IGT-Khoj 2. Master Toko may not have impressed the judges or appealed to many a musical taste, but his supporter’s ability to outspend every other contender in the competition ensured that he came second. Why were we troubled by the actions of the supporters of Tamang and Toko? Was it just fake outrage? Why have the opinion makers, who harp about and condemn the useless foreign trips by the MLAs, the buying of election votes through ill gotten money and the supermarket called MPSC where jobs are auctioned to the highest bidder, suddenly become the enthusiasts of a Fly by night talent show whose workings are uncannily similar to the workings of politics in our state.
We not only had politicians and would be politicians buying recharge vouchers and extra sim cards, but our very own ‘Big Boss’ Dr. Sangma (nee Kalmadi ) – whose excuse for every welfare measure is lack of funds and privatization – suddenly discovered a secret stash of public money to print posters, buy advertisements and even ensure a pleasure trip for himself and his cabinet cohorts, one of whom has been lecturing the valiant, ‘in chronic debt’ deficit school teachers about values of charity. Charity as it is said begins in Television Studios. Was the outpouring of state support really an overcoming of ‘political differences’ as hailed by those lacking political insight or was it that the powers that be were not to be outdone by the other Sangma family Corporation? Or was the big boss advised to act to prevent a coup similar to the one that happened in Darjeeling from a non-showing of support to the indigenous idol Prashant Tamang?
Anyway if etymology is something to go by then the word Talent comes from Latin talenta, which used to be sum of money. So in an etymological sense, SCC was more talented than the others on the show because it had more money backing it. Let us be clear, this victory was bought for them in the same way Master Toko’s second position was purchased. Because if that was not so, by the judges’ decision they would have been third and I don’t know where Teji Toko would have been – maybe in his room giving his neighbours an ear ache.
But who knows the judges’ verdict, just as who knows the best kept secret of SCC? SCC in its previous avatar as India’s representative in the World Choir Championship in China had returned with Diplomas not Gold Medals in the competition, because they were not ‘talented’ enough to qualify for the main competition. But Public Relation Lies peddled in the media made us believe that SCC, the local heroes, were one of the best choir in the whole wide world. I am sorry to shatter the fantasy, but when the media and the opinion producing elite show their talent in merely producing illusions, someone has to be iconoclastic. Genuine objective journalism is one that not only gets the facts right, but also gets the meaning of events right. In the case of SCC, the media not only suppressed the facts, but based on public relations, also subverted the meaning of events. Maybe the media (and SCC) should award themselves the Gold Medal for misrepresentation. Or should we refrain from calling their bluff because like the sad tale of the Emperor’s New Clothes they are blinded in their thirst for ‘heroes’ and ‘success stories’ and something ‘inspiring’ and a sad ‘something is better than nothing’. Is this fake image building for a community an act of generosity or an outright condescension that only serves to perpetuate mediocrity and corruption? A cover up just as it is happening in the ongoing commonwealth games.
So what does a program like IGT mean? In a Las Vegas/Night club like assortment of its acts – from Sufi singers vying for attention with a hula hooping dancer to a choir wearing its religiosity by singing filmi numbers, to a band of token have nots and their heartrending musical beats to (my favourite!) violin wielding faux cobra family, IGT annihilates living cultural traditions. It manufactures cultural talent in accordance with saleability. It recreates culture in the same way as McDonalds creates its burgers -same and tasteless. Unlike the popularly peddled line, the origins of this success does not lie in the vocal chords of the talented choir, or their young–next-door-middle class-humble-god fearing cultic demeanour or even Shillong’s disgust with its small town anonymity. Its origins have to be traced to the overheated machineries of the Culture Industry. To survive profitably this industry does not produce useful goods and services but manufactures aspirations and dreams of the people to fit them more easily with the culture of the powerful.
Even if we accept that the SCC can really sing, what does it mean? They may have exceptional voices and yet they seem to be singing mostly from a dumbed down playlist demanded by TV producers. They are not using music as a means of relating to a world that might oppress them or bring them joy or just generally anger them. SCC, if their post victory pronouncements can be believed, sing for the greater glory of God who showers them with heavenly glitter. But on IGT, they did not use their voice to create something new. Instead they simply packaged the technical aspects of their voice in order to achieve ‘glory’ . They convinced themselves that ‘sin’ inspiring Bollywood songs could spiritually coexist with awe-inspiring praise of God. We would have once called it opportunism, now we call it talent.
Anyway the music on these talent contests is created not for its intrinsic use value of beauty, originality, and the experience it encodes, but solely as an exchange value – something whose existence is all about its ability to command a market price making the contestants swing to the rhythms of the market not rhythms of their music.
But I don’t for a moment blame SCC in their opportunistic delusion. They are but a minor player in this industry of illusion that the powerful create. This deception industry has meant democracy is all about (in the words of SNOWWHITE) electing ki lei san snem (gods of five years) based on the power of the wallet and not the wishes of the ballot. The powerful, who have always been uncomfortable with the idea of democracy, try to cynically emphasise only the procedural aspect of democracy. Elections, choice, vote or sms are highlighted over the existential, substantive, deliberative and critical.
When societies are deceived into smsing away their capacity for critical thinking, the results can be catastrophic–however sympathetic we may be to those who have bought the deception. This deception arises because we reject critical knowledge in favour of easy choices, ignore sobriety because it narrows hope and run away from uncomfortable truths out of deference to the opinion of the vulgar.
It is because of this illusion industry that corruption has become normalized. What is happening around SCC’s ‘achievement’ – between the government sponsored half day Bandh for a Public reception and a cheering media we have a ringside view into how corruption and mediocrity is elevated into common sense by the elite. This is a ‘common’ sense that believes in turning Shillong into a franchise of some mainland Indian fantasy. This is a common sense that teaches us to be comfortable with our mediocrity, and coerces us to be inspired by this ‘achievement’.
Should we be inspired to believe all the Public Relations gimmicks and ignore truth? Should we be inspired to finally accept that Wallet is more powerful than the ballot? Should we be inspired to believe that the end justifies the means? Should we be inspired to ventriloquise Bollywood songs in order to finally make it as an Indian musician?
But maybe it is not we who need the inspiration but SCC and its elite comforters, so that they can finally stop believing in their own carefully invented fiction of talent and maybe work really hard to qualify for the real competition in the next World Championship and get for themselves even a real bronze medal. Till then I am back to listening to ‘Scary Truth’ and chanting to myself that Latin Proverb Ubi dubium ibi libertas – where there is doubt, there is freedom.
Official Website of Shillong Chamber Choir is here
And Scatological criticism on Facebook
For the lazy admin, it is the commentators who keep this alive so here they go:
What is this anti-national site?
From our friend Nongniah Kali
watch youtube vid before reading or vice versa
A fellow Nongniah Kali told me about this clip of this guy who came to shillong for a leading international channel. so like i find most of the tips on how to assemble my broken Karbrator and Betri, i youtubed it.
it begins with the quintessential representation of what india is supposed to be through the eyes of a doh lieh. the sadhus, the red sunset etc etc you get the picture.we then shift to our police bazar and we have our traveller meeting a “local guide” (refer video) whose probably the pimpest looking guide ive ever seen anywhere and who has a striking resemblance to a local entrepreneur who runs a night club in town.
so the general blah blah about this place being the rock capital (refer video) with an overdose of really sad metaphors begins and then the costume change where our phareng friend is adorned with a leather jacket etc etc(just like amit pal was with the jymphong but just a different brand of clothing this time kein)
later when the rest of the city is now asleep or forced to because of the load shedding, the party begins at the night club where the guide was also seen and the many rockers present there start flaunting their skills or lack of. the first of course was our very own mascot of that beatnik from the west-two sock i just waxed my legs but forgot to have a bath louie and the usual suspects.
of which the most intriguing was our very own rangdajied who was as usual getting angry in falsetto and trying his level best to “snatch the sword” at the night club (from whom is a good question although i believe it was half attempted to be explained by the admins of this blog years ago when the rangdajied album was released. some say the admin has gone cuckoo trying to understand their material)
and of course how could you not have our very own respected and most honourable i shall suck on anything if it looks like a bong and click on any flower thats talking to me and once upon a time member of the administration whose book i once ate aloo muri from telling the doh lieh that we required a band from australia whose performative equivalence is that of B4u capsule to come bring us together.wtf??????!!
music is not the common thread that unites us all. the injustice that a major section of people from this region face when they do not know a bah “burom” (familiar?) or a kong heh at the sketriat is often discussed at our very own islands and on a subconscious level is probably the only link that unites us all (for a very short period of time)
where do local bands play in shillong these days?? where were the fete shnongs where real rockers threw their first punches and received even more and also experienced their first mosh pits(barit kein) and at the same time hear for the first time paranoid, trooper, breaking the law,Symphony of destruction..now doesnt that sound more rock capital(!!!) not some corporate band whose been asked before going on stage not to say the word fuck or they wont win a hero honda or a government sponsored event on republic day where a flatulence(read famous girl band) plays RATM’s “killing in the name” when the nation in itself is responsible for the genocide in conflict ridden areas.
another funny thing is bringing these have been bands or doh liehs on musical instruments in town and exploiting us under the context of good music. who the fuck has heard of diemonds anyways????????!!!A fellow Nongniah Kali(dont i just have many??) aptly said that shillong is the rock gutter of the world and i must agree although i dislike him because hes one of those with the new MPFI engines that he revs everytime i pass him on the crowded streets of shillong.
I was waiting for them, I expected them to come in a Maruti or a nice bike considering HIV positives (according to a local “consultancy agent”) were supposed to get Rs12,000 worth of benefits per month. Then maybe go driving around town like the good ol days and have a whisky while listening to Megadeth on the car tape(not stereo for you pimp my ride that daddy bought from the govt tender money wannabes) So after a long wait, i finally see familiar looking faces. I asked them why the fuck they took so long, (vini palazo is almost closed and i’m absconding from keating road kong coz a friend of mine hasn’t paid her yet ). They had Rs15 amongst the three of them and the cab fare from where they stayed to where we were supposed to meet was Rs 15 as well. So being foresighted, they decided to save it for the whisky that we were supposed to have. No car and only Rs 25( i had ten bucks), we decide to hit the parking lot in Laimu and not do the ole in out but to get ourselves a half of pogo. So we paid homage to my old school (that recently was in the papers because some kid threw some other kid off the balcony) and slowly emptied the poly bag. There is a reason why they call it ‘khor’ alright. I do not intend to sound penguinly kynphamish or was that someone else now?
We smoked a cigarette and started talking about old parties and drives and old flames and the town (don’t want to be too detailed, stuff like that is publishable, some search party might be dispatched and someone might just land up repenting writing stuff ) and finally about life and how fucked up it was, how we all fucked up,got fucked and are still fucked(fucked is saccch a bootifool ward in the english like a telehinduvangalist once said). The khor started to hit hard and now i was at my blunt best. “How the fuck do you guys manage man?”
“Were all gonna die one day” was one answer “Its just a cycle, I’m gonna be born again as a beautiful sunset(after many sips and more tokes)” was another. The last was just stupid “I can’t manage.I need money man”. I mean come on man, I’m writing about you dude-gimme some juice man,spice it up at least, gimme that stop aids keep the promise stuff. I hated this guy. Cynical twat.
The alcohol was over. Drunk and horny, we all decided to go meet one our old flames we were talking about. I would have to walk for half and hour to meet my flame and its starting to get hot in this city. Think. Think. Think. Got hard. I started walking.
Thinking of her in her room, will she still remember me? Jat city woman i called her after she left me for a Delhiite. Choot. But she’s in town for a few days and i don’t want to miss the oppurtunity. Oh shut up and just go to the bit where you’re at the door already.
So I’m at the door. Pressed the bell. Checked my breath. Too late.
“Umm what you doing here?” “To do you” the devil in my pants and in my head screamed. “To do you” I slurred. Slapped!!door shut.
What an insult to my manhood. I could even hear it cursing. I decided to go meet one of my many charitable friends in police bazaar. She stood there with the rest of the city trying to mingle with the crowd but the one layer too thick lipstick was enough for her to stand out from the rest. I loved it.
Smiled,winked,3 fingers scratched on my cheek,3 and a half fingers she scratched on her nose,my index finger scratched my temple and i cracked it (pay you monday.im broke), 1message received,open inbox- room 9 7slodge. I ran.
She was already there. real magic alright.
Lah don jrei ne iam?? fuck i forgot
Ran downstairs the pan wallah looks around worryingly and hands me a pack. “kloi mung mama la bow”. reached for money. Shit!! Ummm think, think, think (still hard). Bow shato. Ran upstairs (some text missing) I could barely move but I’m smiling. Reached for the ashtray and smoked a half smoken cigarette. The last person ate at EC. Hate the pizza dough they use.
“Bye, I’ll see you Monday mo.”
Several Mondays and years later Jamaican and Afro American vegetable sellers and smokers born of well to do families mentally migrate to Shillong and employ their theory on sales and marketing of vegetables in music. It worked.
Meghalaya has an idol. I’m looking for a vending machine. Hurry up I don’t have much time.
To which a reply
enjoyable read )) …understood every word, maybe it has something to do with the school we went to? hated it !!! ))
Some anonymous action
anon, on May 13, 2010 at 5:06 pm said
Last night i watched a drama unfold on the local news as Hamlet Dohling begged, with serious conviction, the HNLC for a reason why they killed the KSU dawki unit president. N he repeated it again tell us the reason why he was killed n again n again n ended wit how cannibals who feast on each other wil only end gnawing their own foot in their mouths. Is there ANY reason why a man should b killed? Kasab took hundreds of lives mercilessly n yet he was given a fair trail. I mean what was he n the union looking for… ‘justification of murder’? N if any reason were given, would it suffice? Would the parents b consold n the ‘execution’ forgotten? The next morning HNLC PS denied having any hand in the murder n calld it state propaganda. I fear this PR facade between these two powerful organisations. There is more to their rhetoric than meets the eye n the underlying umbilical cord which binds them is awaiting a rebirth of unprecedntd proportions. Is there recognition of the validity n the authority of the HNLC in Hamlet’s question? No Manipuri wil b asking why the army raped n murdered Manorama Devi. Everyday we read how drunk members of our jaitbynriew finish each other off…drunk khasi men n women killing their spouse, uncles, in laws n anyother living thing unfortunate enough to walk into their alcoholic killing zone. Dont these so called cannibalistic acts account for anything? Or are they frighteningly outside the purview of the perceived valid institutionalised authority of the union n the council? Simply saying if we didnt do it or dont comment on it then it never happened! Finally there is no greater paradox than the self styld guardians of the jaitbynriew identifying themselves using the colonial masters language! Eg english words like Students Union, National Liberation Council or even Khasi National Durbar. Take a cue from the other states n start using ur own language Seng Samla Pule etc. P.s nga la pyrshah ia ki jingong lade da kaba thoh da phareng! Tangba ngam don bor halor u paidbah kum ba don kine ki seng.
dedicated to those who died for the jaitbynriew…
Sumar Lyngdoh, farmer, shot dead by assam police at langpih
Anthony Marbaniang, daily labourer, shot dead by assam police at Langpih.
Suman Das, little girl going to fetch water, burnt alive at Golflink.
Tejbahadur Thapa, elderly cow herd, burnt alive at Ri Bhoi.
Though we be thriving there are the ‘others’ who b dying…
Im slem Ri Khasi!
For some anonymous poetry
Phi ong:”Ngam lah im kumne”
Kane ka iing trep
Teh da jingduk
Sha sor shillong
Phi la rai kut.
Phi ong:”Ngan wan phai biang”
Ine i iingtrep
Kdup da jingduk
Sukjai phi thiah
I D.L ila mih na shnong ban leit kamai noh ha sor. La lap ia ka met jong i na kawei ka nurum haka sor. Ym pat lap ne kem ia ki/u nongpyniap. – kum bla thoh ki kotkhubor.
Physical strength and stamina is what coal miner Shyam Prasad Pokharel needs to survive in a profession like his. Living in India’s northeastern state of Meghalaya, the 60-year-old Pokharel descends a 200 feet deep pit using a jerry-built bamboo ladder to fetch coal boulders in a basket that rests on his back with the support of a belt that goes around his head. Physical strength Pokharel had. But two weeks ago, when Khasi tribals started assaulting and killing Nepali-speaking people, Pokharel needed will power and morale too to cope with the trauma.
After the Khasis launched an all-out war against Nepali speakers, many people fled to neighbouring Assam for refuge while others like Pokharel stayed on witnessing the macabre drama unfolding. “I locked myself up in my room and kept remembering my family and praying to God for strength,” said Pokharel, who feared his turn would come anytime.
Langpih, a village on the Meghalaya-Assam border and object of boundary dispute, was the epicentre of the Khasi-Gorkha standoff. The incident erupted there on May 14 when security personnel gunned down four Khasis for trying to attack Gorkha people. Hell broke loose after Khasis started harassing, beating and killing Nepali-speaking Gorkhas in various parts of Meghalaya to exact retribution for the Langpih killings.
Khasi Students Union, which wields more power than political parties here, along with other student bodies warned Nepali-speakers to leave Meghalaya immediately. “It was like the 1986-87 riot when thousands of us were chased away,” said Diwakar Poudel, a shop owner at Ladrampi.
Some see the May 14 Langpih incident as a calculated act with sinister political motives behind it. At the centre stage: DD Lapang, Mukul Sangma and Himanta Biswa Sarma.
Lapang, a former chief minister of Meghalaya and who is of Khasi lineage, lost the top job to Congress’ Sangma recently. Sarma, Assam’s health minister, apparently had a role in Sangma donning the chief minister’s mantle.
It is said that Sarma is after putting uranium-rich Langih on the map of Assam. He has helped Langpih-based Gorkha people by building for them health centres and other infrastructure.When Lapang lost his job, he plotted the Langpih riot to hurt both Sarma and the new Chief Minister Sangma. Over 1,000 Khasis from different villages poured into Langpih on May 14, beating up Gorkha people there indiscriminately.
“The incident was orchestrated by Lapang to show how weak the law and order situation has become after Sangma took over as chief minister,” said a Gorkha leader based at Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya. He said the Gorkha people were being used in what was just a game of politics.
This is not the 1980s
Local media and those in Nepal covered the Langpih incident regularly and that pressed the Meghalaya government to contain the growing attacks against Nepali-speaking people. This was something that did not happen during the 1986-87 riot in which thousands of Nepalis were driven out of Meghalaya. A police station has been set up at Ladrampi to keep law and order. “Police and village elders told us to stay behind assuring us of security,” Toplal Bhandari said. “The Khasis even urged our landlords to expel us but the latter stood their ground.”
finally an incomplete anthology of poetry from shillong is here… and still a work in progress
robin s ngangom
kynpham singh nongkynrih
To be added
bevan swer, don ryntathiang, anjum hasan…
And also an academic sort of polemic from someone called Prasanta Das on Shillong Poets. Three political pieces on hawker evictions, minimum wages and that popular theme corruption(in two parts 1 & 2). A guide to Uranium mining.
[looking for some pieces to link or reproduce on that idiotic notion rock capital. some shillong reviews of recent novels. thinking of a series on scamsters and frauds of shillong... put your contributions in comment and we would move it around]
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robin s ngangom’s shillong, a city no tourist brochure will sing
a piece which omits amit paul with glee