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Book Review: People Called Shillong – 50 stories from the Khasi Hills…

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People Called Shillong: 50 Stories from the Khasi Hills

Curated by : Nisha Nair-Gupta

Conceptualised by : The People Place Project

Initiated by: Nishigandha Kerure

The North-East arm of India has always been the most overlooked part on the map of our country. There are people so ignorant about this state that some of them do not even consider it to be a part of India.

Think ‘Tea’ and Assam comes to mind, and that is where the association, and connection with the North-East starts, and sadly ends for most.

If you are one of the people who thought so too, this is the book for you.

With People Called Shillong, different authors come together to share facets of this multi-dimensional capital city that has remained a mystery for outsiders till now.

With this book the light is shone on Shillong, it’s folklore, a great music culture, the world famous, ‘Bhut Jolokia’ – one of the hottest chillies of the world, and these are just a few of the many gems.

This book holds 50 different stories, written by 15 different Authors.

Giving you a glimpse into a few here;

1)Tale of Interpretations, the first story starts with a folklore, about the daughter of the deity Shyllong, who appeared out of thin air, fulfilled her duties and disappeared one day. She is the one from whom Shillong got its name.

2) A Relationship with Music – where Kit Shanpliang, the Songwriter and Vocalist of the Band Summersalt, talks about why Shillong is the Rock Capital of India. Kit’s passion for music, and Shillong, come through with each word.

3) Conversation around a Phunga : ‘Phunga’ means a fireplace, and food for the entire family is cooked here.  A Husband-wife duo set up the restaurant, ‘Phunga’ that serves the local cuisine, flavoured with the Bhut Jholakiya,

4) The Tribal King and the Traditional Movement – Syiem is a word for Tribal King and Admin Head of State and the Syiem himself explains how Shillong came into being.

5)An Activist at Heart is the story of Patrica Mukhim, a Padmashree Award Winner. She started as a teacher, moved to being a writer, after writing letters to a newspaper regularly and later graduated to becoming the editor of the very newspaper she wrote letters too.

6) A Deep love for his Domicile – Professor Sanjeeb Kakoty who is also a Documentary Film Maker nurtures a deep love for his adopted place of residence, Shillong, and introduces us to its culture, heritage and geography.

7) The Haunted Valley – is a delightful story of a mythical creature called Boit – a Dwarfish Ghost who is playful and loves to tickle people. Uncle Rain recounts the story of his experience with Boits.  

8) Ironical Meat, is a tongue in cheek story narrated by Donbok Warjiri who own the cleanest meat shop in town and has won awards for it. You can’t help but smile when you read how he inherited his shop from his mother.

9) Say it with Flowers a simple story of the significance of flowers collected from every household when someone in town passes away.

10) ‘An awakening’ is the translation of the Khasi word ‘La Kyrsiew’. And the story of Nayantara and Geert who manufacture top quality organic Tea of the same name in Shillong and supply it all over the world.

People Called Shillong, with its eye catching cover is the third in the book series by The People Place Project, with People called Mumbai and People Called Ahmedabad being the preceding ones.

It was enlightening to read how hardworking and  multi-faceted the People of Shillong are. How proudly they hold on to their culture and traditions even as they grow with the changing times.

You could read about them to, by pre booking a copy of the book here 


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