Sunday, February 27, 2011

Shillong and back

Recently returned from Shillong where Jamie and I went in service of our geekdom- we both presented a paper for the ISFNR (International Society for Folk Narrative Research) seminar held at NEHU. That aside, I loooved going back to Shillong with its many varieties of chinky faces from all over the NE, the locals with their staccato accents, the ever-present nip in the air, the bustle of PB, the food, ohhh, the food!

Granted, I havent been anywhere much, but of all the places Ive been, Shillong has the best Chinese food. Bought mutton momos daily from a Tibetan restaurant managed by this Tibetan dude who Jamie proclaims has a certain way of looking at you that would make you blush. I wouldn't know- Im in a happy twosome so am above flirtatious looks, twalalla. But the momos, oh, the momos, served with their brand of chili sauce...

And the roadside food- friends have often made fun of my lack of qualms when it comes to roadside food because I have absolutely no hygienic standards. Whether its buying food manned by a Kong with kwai-stained mouth or by a lad with a trickle of snot hanging dejectedly from his nose, I love them all. Capsicum stuffed with egg whites and mashed potatoes, dipped in flour and fried, eggs coated in potatoes and fried, tiny morsels of pakora and roadside chai, Im game for em all.

And alu muri!! Without the muri! A concoction of boiled potatoes, raw papaya, diluted tamarind water, masala, coriander leaves, chili, black salt, a dash of lemon, oil and onions- its roadside food nirvana, a gastrorgasmic treat. Yum. And a half. And another half. (Thas me eating the alu on the roadside, with my bare hands- in the way that roadside food should be eaten) The thing about Shillong is, almost everyone speaks English so there is not much need for me to air my very rudimentary Hindi. But with the alu-man, I insist on doing it, I dont know why. "Bhaiya, khale alu, 15 rupees hai. Zyada pyas, mirchi, namak, tel, zyada EVERYTHING. Do packet packing hai, ek packet panch rupee, aur ek packet dos rupee hai". Its the butchery of the Hindi language taken to extremities, but we always understand each other perfectly. And because they think Im making the effort to talk their talk, they always give me a little extra. They do!
And friends say he (and the puchchka-man, ohhh the puchchka!!) prolly scratch their heads and their balls with the same hand they use to make their alus, but I dont mind. Besides, I dont think they'll let chilly-crusted hands too near their nether regions, so nyah nyah to you.

Strolling through the city and laughing at the signs that warns you to "Commit no nuisance here!" or the menu board in a dingy restaurant that proclaims, "Drink wine in side strickly prohibited. Drink water", or the ones that forbiddingly say, "Do not cough". Yes, that establishment really does prohibit coughing. I didnt go there, since I have a permanent cough, but my friends did, and no, they didnt cough. Wonder what the establishment would do to coughers.. And I love that sign there, from the restroom in the said dingy restaurant. Pictorial language at its best.

I love travelling. I sleep through all the bumpy parts, bobbing my head and sometimes, sleeping with my mouth wide open because the maxi-cab seats aren't exactly foetal position-friendly. And I love the food. We had lunch at Sonapur, pic is of the Sonapur river. The river's all blue because they treat it with chemicals from the factories or something. Looks rather tropical, doesnt it? They served fish caught from the river. We wanted to take a pic on the bridge, so while our travel mates were busy sitting off their heavy lunch, we trekked off towards the bridge. We passed a convoy of army trucks and we waved and saluted them, much to their delight. It also made our day. Such a simple little gesture, and yet so smile-inducing, though I dont recommend doing it when you're at a desolate place at night.

Tried to smuggle in a can of beer for my sister. Was caught by the border excise. Gave him a conciliatory smile, saying it was only the one can , so please, please, please. He said it wasn't fair, but yeah, smiles do work, I suppose, cos he let me through with my can of beer, yay! Reached home. Discovered I had acquired a double-chin, love handles and a protruding belly and also lost my cheekbones. A week's worth of sitting all day and snacking half the night would do that to you. My hair had also decided to acquire a strange parting which emphasised my newly gained pounds, so now I look like a dowdy frump. Correction: A well-fed, contented dowdy frump.

I love Shillong, I love travelling- but the best part about travelling is coming home. To Aizawl with its narrow roads, its congested traffic, its horrible infrastructure. Yet home it is, Aizawl and its "zun"- its particular brand of charm that takes hold of you and makes you its own so that you cant imagine yourself calling any other place home.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


I was rummaging through my old diaries last night when I came across this entry from 14th Feb, 2002, which got me thinking all over again. This was when I was in Hostel in Shillong, during my Higher Secondary school years, and we could get day-outs only once or twice a month, and those day outs consisted of window shopping, pigging out and looong chat sessions on Mirc and Yahoo chat. Here's the slightly edited entry from that Valentine's Day, 2002.

"Its V-day! No Valentine but we went out and oohhh, its sooo great to be young, carefree, passably attractive and healthy.
The warden told us to buy toilet cleaning brushes, and there we were, me and Kevi, all dolled up and dragging toilet brushes around PB! Still received catcalls from creepy roadside Bahs, we acted prissy but giggled when they were out of earshot.

Went online, chatted to a lotta people, C_ from Kulikawn being one of them. She asked me if I ever had feelings of insecurity when we were in High School. She updated me on some of our old classmates and mentioned that A_ who had been teased by the boys because she was such a tomboy had become a huge flirt, ck-ing with any guy who asks. She wondered if  low self esteem was responsible for that.

I had a wonderful time in high school and Ive never felt unpopular. I knew I was popular, the Princy called me by my nickname, teachers teased me on my crushes, kids from lower classes knew me, and I was with the hip crowd. Mahse the pressure was there- would a crush like my friend instead, am I up to date on 'cool' music and things like that, is a friend saying mean things behind my back, etc. Mahse Ive never felt really left out.

But what makes me guilty is that we sometimes call some people "Mi nep"- the kind of people who are wallflowers, who dont talk much, and who are not very with it. And we used to laugh at them secretly, pretend to have crushes on them if the Mi nep was a guy, and laugh at him when he responds. We just overlook the quiet ones, and make fun of the ones who try and fail to fit in. 

T_ and N_  (hostel mates) said that they felt like Mi neps in high school. I never thought they were, but, if they felt that way, I wonder what the people that we considered real Mi neps would feel. High school was such an important time and the things that happened there could really affect you later. I think I too would have hurt other people's feelings. Though I have never pretended to like a guy just to make fun of him, I laughed along with my friends when they do it. 

Maybe retribution will happen to me and Ill deserve it. Mahse I hope I will be mature and humane enough to never again judge people on the basis of their wealth, social status and their looks. And that I will never refer to anyone as a Mi nep ever again".

I know, I was a right lil bitch in high school :(  I'm sorry :(((((

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A year auld.

Once upon a time, a year back, boredom and narcissism met. They circled each other laconically and decided to spawn a blog together. So they came together and spawned the spawn. And so was born a blogger who claims that she is a "Goddess, slave and everything in between". Mmmphrphghh. Named Doppelganger   Pachuau.

The first unsteady step was a hopeful yet apologetic little piece in which were written a list of things to do before 30. It goes:

1. write a bestseller.
2. be an accomplished flirt.
3. learn to drive and swim
4. learn salsa or tango
5. bungee jump n para sail.
6. backpack across India.
7. fall madly in love
8. learn to play at least one musical instrument.
9. charity, charity, charity.

Narcissism's genes proved to be stronger than Laziness'. So Dopey wrote. A lot. Trapped in the ego-gratifying cycle of believing that her thoughts were worth recording for posterity and actually having a few kind souls who respond to her ramblings, the Dopester wrote. And wrote. And had quite a fun time doing so. 

Completely oblivious by now to the fact that it would serve her a lot better if she had worked on getting her list done rather than writing about it, Gangy plonked herself in front of her computer, Radiohead softly wailing "Im a creep, Im a weirdo" in the background. 

A year old and what has she done?
1. Bestseller murdered before conception.
2. Charm has died of old age.
3. Driving and swimming skills defunct. 
4. Dancing skills butchered and hacked to death.
5. Occasionally jumps on stairs and sails uncoordinatedly over them, leading to raspberry coloured bruises made by impact of disastrous landing.
6. Backpacks are no longer in fashion anyway.
7. Still stands. Irrevocably. 
8. Air guitars and air drums now count as musical instruments.
9. Siiiiggghhhs.

 Changes track to Third Eye Blind's "Losing a whole year". 

Friday, February 4, 2011

Counting crows

Back in hostel, we girls would sun ourselves on the rooftop terrace. Weak sunlight would filter through wispy clouds as we shivered in the chilly Shillong winter. On the pretext of studying for exams, we would sit there with our books, munching on stolen unripe pears, wiping the bittersweet juices on sweater sleeves and counting crows in the sky.
One for sorrow
Two for joy
Three for letters
Four for boys.

We would determinedly look away if we see a lone crow. If two came flying, we would squeal with joy, the very sight of two crows becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. Seeing three crows was the best deal.

The poor postman was bombarded every other day with hordes of excited girls asking, "Letter for us?" God forbid that he should come with just a bill for the wardens. Then all he would get would be a sea of glum faces, all staring at him mournfully. But on the days he would arrive with a good load, there would be masses of excited, happy faces all beaming at him, as if he were personally responsible for our happiness. And should his arrival coincide with that of the sweet-man's, then he had his face stuffed with sticky jalebis, rosagullas and gulab jamuns. Funny thing is, for such an important man, none of us knew what our postman looked like.

'Four for boys' did not have much of an impact in our lives. We could go out of the hostel only one Saturday a month. Sundays we could go to our various churches, but our warden made it a point to know how long our church services lasted, so there was no opportunity for larking around after services ended. So even if a suitable boy turned up, there was never any opportunity to meet him. Having Church crushes that we never dared to talk to anyway were the height of our romantic escapades.

If only life was as simple as we made it then.  
One for sorrow.    
Two for joy.
Three for letters.
Four for boys.
And should there be more, than we would just start all over again.