Scratching the Walls

An old piece on Blasphemy and Art  published in The Shillong Times and Pyrta. Occasion was the ‘anonymous’ graffiti on the walls of Shillong and calls to prosecute the anonymous provocateur.

“If liberty means anything at all it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear”

George Orwell

When the morning newspapers on Friday arrived, I expected to be bored with the usual cliché laden political babble. But I was assaulted by photographs of stencil art with subversive slogans that had mysteriously appeared on the walls of Shillong and to tell you the truth I was excited. Finally, the sledgehammer of public art had made its long awaited journey to the genteel walls of Shillong. Even if it was not Banksy, but at least the artists were putting their paint to the frustrating outrage that privately smoldered in us. But like all good things, it had to have a sting. I saw the ‘religious’ imagery and my initial excitement gave way to a sense of dismay. 9,26,36,105.80p suddenly lost its randomness and became what it really was, a number that Meghalaya Right to Information Movement had spent two years to uncover and I was irritated with the artists’ thoughtless juxtaposition of the number with the Christ crucified on the Cross.

I knew that this guerilla art action would be inevitably reduced to the familiar territory of ‘outraged religious sentiments’ and the very real issues ‘artist provocateurs’ wanted to stencil would be forgotten amidst the clamour of faux outrage. The condemnations flew faster than the graffiti would have taken to dry, the Church’s reaction was expected but with a few honourable exceptions most of the critical opinion makers of the society succumbed to opportunistic and cowardly pandering to power. And although irritated, I was forced to re-think the issues that these images have raised and to deconstruct the public responses to them.
Let me begin by making three confessions. One, I am a secular humanist and so the provocative images and the messages which appeared on the walls do not seem blasphemous to me. Two, I understand that there are some (many?) who are deeply offended with some of the images and I acknowledge their right to be offended and express their dissent. Three, I do not condemn or condone the guerilla images and the messages inscribed on the walls because like the religious groups, the artist provocateurs also have the right to publicly express dissent by transfiguring the walls of Shillong (ambushed already by advertising lies like ‘Cement companies for a greener world’) into spaces of public criticism. Even though the politics underlying the images are naive and simplistic and the form of image making a bit imitative.
In light of these confessions, in this essay I want to examine two aspects of this nocturnal ‘outrage’: one, locate the meanings intended by this public art and their political limitations; second, examine the vexed question of outraged religious responses and examine the relationship between free speech and blasphemy.
The Art of Graffiti is as old as civilization itself. Archeologists have found traces of these public commentaries everywhere they have dug. Historically, those in authority, both secular and religious have controlled the means of dissemination of ideas and values. But graffiti has been a way for the anonymous masses to be scurrilous about these dominant values and institutions. If one strand of this tradition has ended up being bawdy messages on the walls of public toilets, the other more politically subversive strand has tried to invade public spaces. These seemingly anonymous acts of reclaiming the public from the establishment have either been seen as mindless vandalism or an astute form of social commentary. For instance, Banksy ( has used his anonymity to paint witty and subversive images of control and resistance from Gaza to Bristol. Jean Jacques Basquit’s graffitis became the toast of the art world. So, what happened on Thursday night was not a mindless and eccentric prank but appeared out of an artistic tradition, which in the words of Brecht, considers art not a mirror to reflect reality but as a tool to shape the reality itself.
But I am more interested in the politics of these images rather than their artistic pedigree. It is clear from the stencils that the ‘artist provocateurs’ are not into worshiping the powerful but are interested in challenging the powerful and their overpowering discourse or in other words artists want to be political. In some cases their strategy works, but sadly, in some cases the politics gets lost in the overall novelty of being provocative. How art is received and made sense of–its interpretation– determines its politics as well.
Take for example the juxtaposition of the number 9,26,36,105.80p and the image of crucifixion. What does that mean? What political understanding underpins that image? I am not sure. But listening to the reception of this image, it seems that people think that the artists are trying to draw some connection between the CGI sheet scam and christianity. If this is what is being received then the whole exercise of the RTI activists to uncover the corrupt dealings of the government and contractor has been undermined. This corruption has nothing to do with religion but with the impunity with which the rich and the powerful have gotten away with thievery. In this case, religion could have been a legitimate target of criticism, if the corrupt had used its spiritual façade to save their skin. Till now the swindlers of CGI Sheets haven’t publically done so, but who knows?

Now coming to the image of Pope Benedict and the artists’ desire to get him arrested. Arrest him for what? I am confused to the intention of that image. The image is so concrete, the text so ambiguous, the message itself borders on the realm of absurd. Maybe the artists are referencing the child abuse and rape scandals which plague the Catholic Church and Pope Benedict’s role in its cover up now and earlier in his old position as Chief of Congregation of doctrine of faith as Cardinal Ratzinger. If that is so, the text does not say so. And that is where the context becomes the text. In Shillong, if we leave sporadic appearance of news concerning this crime against children that the Catholic church has covered up for so long, then people have no idea of this shameful controversy. Maybe the defensive reaction which emanates from the church to this graffiti controversy is to preclude news of any such crime reaching the ears of the faithful by calling blasphemous any attempt which tries to criticize their religious world. Hopefully the special masses which will be held to condemn the blasphemy would at least acknowledge and examine the question of child abuse and child rape in the Church.

Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
                                                                       Benjamin Franklin

Religion is something that human beings do. Like art, it is a phenomenon that has characterized every society. Religion tries to answer two important questions for humankind. One, how did we come about and two, how do we live our lives? On the first question religious answers are plainly wrong, we did not come into being by churning of the oceans or someone deciding in six days to create and populate this world. On the second question, religious diktats have been small minded and limited by their historical origins. Caste system and slavery is divinely ordained, Homosexuals have to be put to death or women are a spare rib of Man or robbers should have their hands chopped off or adulterers are to be stoned to death, take your pick, religion has mostly provided ‘aesthetically sickening, intellectually toxic, ethically squalid’ and immutable answers for us to live by. If the teachings and beliefs of religion are outmoded, hypocritical, or abusive of human rights, not expressing criticism of them would be criminally perverse. Shouldn’t we criticize female circumcision carried out in many Islamic societies, or should we not ridicule the totally unscientific and inhuman attitude of the church towards condoms, which criminally managed the AIDS murder of people in Africa. Thanks to enlightenment and its tradition of skepticism and freedom we can question religious truth and the philosophical and political implications of their claims to truth.
Just to outline the absurdity of all this ‘pynjah burom’ of Jesus as the over excited religious organization claim to be feeling, I would point them to the following verses from the Bible:
Matthew 26:63-66 But Jesus held his peace, And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.
Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.
Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy. What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death.
Before the religious faithfuls ‘rent their clothes’, they may like to remember that the crime for which Jesus was crucified was Blasphemy. Blasphemy has always been an epithet bestowed by superstition upon common sense. Anyway blasphemy or going against the tyranny of popular consensus has been the cause of all the progress in the world. If there was no blasphemy by Galileo, the earth would still be flat, the Sun would still be going around the earth. If there was no Ambedkar (or Kabir or Periyar) caste would still have a legal sanction… More than religion, it has been blasphemy that has been beneficial for the world.
Maybe, we all realize the limitations of religion and we may all be privately blaspheming on a daily basis, but when it comes to publicly voicing our thoughts, we stumble on the threshold of polite toleration, and out of a desire to be polite and tolerant we pass no comment and criticism? Why should we hurt people and their beliefs? Why draw cartoons of the prophet or write Satanic Verses or reinterpret the Bible for a Liberation Theology?
But does toleration mean that one tolerates injustices and absurdity only because they are being perpetrated by religion? A society that has a more civil tone to its discourse is pleasant and welcome, but if some of the issues in society are unpleasant and difficult should we keep tolerantly quiet? Or, the tolerence means the tolerance of hearing things you don’t want to hear? Or reading things you don’t want to read? Or letting others watch films you may not want to watch. A free and civilized society is one where we question, we criticize and if necessary ridicule any ideas and ideals and institutions. And the holders of those ideals, which have been criticized also have an equal right to counter the criticism and argue their case. Unlike the closed world of religious obscurantism, the modern world of democracy is supposedly in the words of Voltaire, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” If secular modernity confers the right to practice and propagate any religion so too it allows us the right to criticize the world of religion freely.
Although I am offended by much of the religious pronouncements about sex and morality or their patriarchal ideas about women or their disdain for other religions and lifestyle, I am confident enough to challenge them, call them to account rather than ask the law to shut them up. Anyway, it always surprises me about the devout who believe in the immutability and divinity of their truth asking for man made institutions to come to their aid, and ban the uncomfortable truths. If their truth is so divine why be so under confident? Your unchangeable truth will win anyway or the Karma of the blasphemer will lead to his/her uncomfortable stay in hell for eternity (me included).
What about untruths then, can we allow that to go under the rubric of ‘free speech’. Yes, as Milton said in Areopagitica, the publication even of untruths and errors enables the progress of truth by rebuttal; the statement of the truth combats falsehoods in open debate. Only those who fear debate and truth hide behind the comfort of censorship. In a free society only censorship which makes sense is the censorship of not listening and not seeing. If you don’t like something stop listening or stop seeing or better still write about your feeling, create a counter image. It is only the evildoers who prefer the darkness of ignorance to envelop every one.
So what do we do with the artist provocateurs ? Artists, filmmakers, writers, Political radicals, scientists or in other words creative people have always lurked at the edges of the un-sayable. They have extracted the awful beauty of the world for the people to contemplate and reject. They have challenged the darkness of silence by the light of the word. They have done so by being faithful to the truth of their desires to explore the workings and non workings of this world. They have been the prophets we have denied. So, rather than go on a inquisitorial frenzy and witch hunt for Blasphemers, we need to engage with their politics and desires. Remember images won’t stay banned or whitewashed from the walls. Words won’t remain silenced. Ideas won’t go to jail. It remains a cruel lesson of history that the censor and the inquisitor have always lost. If we disagree with the ideas on the walls we have to argue with them because the only weapon against bad ideas is better ideas. Or like me, if you find the ideas naïve and simplistic, we will have to make those ideas more complex and radical, so that the artist provocateurs can transfer their politics from the wall to the streets, and the provocation transforms into a valid politics of liberation to finally achieve, as the Surrealists had declared, ‘all powers to imagination’.


alt-shillong ver. Satanic Verses

So you want the book they won’t have heard at Jaipur Love Fest here lies the contraband

Read and then curse


alt-shillong shillong chamber choir version

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. 

Paisa Pheko Talent Dekho

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

Venomous criticism by tarun against SCC is quite
understandable since he hails from the area where the only choir he ever heard are people singing through their arse holes sitting along the railway tracks day in and day out. He should go back home and join his own railway track shitters.
  Meban Rynjah nga te sngew ba ia ka sap kaba phong kaba shisha ym lah da lei lei ban rai da ka rukom sms, kane ka dei tang ka buit kamai pisa, ngam len pat ia kata ba ka SCC ka don sap shisha bad ka tbit, kam donkam eh ia ki india’s got talent ban pynshisha ia kata, ka dei tang kawei pat ka rynsan, shu pyrkhat kumno lada ka scc kam jop,ki jingteipop kin mih ia ki sms, ka biria mynta ka long ba u Bining um jop ia ka cwg namar um ioh sms..  15 October 2010 at 13:22 ·
Wait Prat Shakhmat sngewtynnat ïa ka jingpyrkhat jong phi bah meban tangba kawei ngi dei ban sngewthuh ba ngi dei ka jaitbynriew kaba rit paid hooid wat la ngi tip ba ka channel colors ka leh business ïa kane hynrei ym lah pat ban len ba ki khynnah jong ngi k…See more  15 October 2010 at 13:36

alt-shillong ver. comments

For the lazy admin, it is the commentators who keep this alive so here they go:

Sudarshan Iyengar, on July 7, 2010 at 7:09 am said: Edit Comment

What is this anti-national site?

wan, on August 3, 2010 at 6:21 pm said: Edit Comment

UP yours!!

From our friend Nongniah Kali

Nongniah Kali, on February 21, 2010 at 11:01 pm said

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!!
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 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.

MEGHALAYA ICON onMarch 26, 2010 at 8:16 pm said

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 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

Keith Wallang, on July 23, 2010 at 5:38 am said

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

  1. 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.

  2. 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

  3. anon, on May 21, 2010 at 4:23 pm said:

    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
    Hala synduk.

    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.

And then some lefty obviously
boundaries are for capitalists!!, on June 2, 2010 at 10:12 pm said:

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.

Political undercurrent

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.”

alt-shillong ver 3.2a

finally an incomplete anthology of poetry from shillong is here… and still a work in progress

robin s ngangom
kynpham singh nongkynrih
desmond kharmawphlang

tarun bhartiya
pijush dhar
ananya guha
simanta bhattacharjee
nabnita kanungo

nongniah kali

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]

How people come here


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alt-shillong ver 3.2


an incomplete anthology of poetry from shillong
smoking lingam
poets to be featured
robin s ngangom
kynpham singh nongkynrih
desmond kharmawphlang
pijush dhar
ananya guha
tarun bhartiya
simanta bhattacharjee
nabnita kanungo
bevan swer


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