SHILLONG JOTTINGS

All in a flash

Crimes associated with flash mobs are rare but occasionally make international headlines. Referred to as ‘flash robs’ or ‘flash mob violence’, these mobs start with the intent to destroy private property, rioting, violence, and personal injury. These were points far from consideration when Walk with 9 Lives in collaboration with KNACK Movement and XBHP Meghalaya organised a flash mob in Khyndailad at what is perhaps a wrong timing since it disrupted the last minute Christmas shoppers. The Deputy Commissioner was unaware (he gave permission for the flash mob movement) of the repercussions of a mob activity at Khyndailad which disrupted traffic and easy movement of pedestrians. Intentions of spreading the message of peace and brotherhood may be noble but not when it infuriates others who get caught in the human jam. Our ability to ape the West is legendary and this is one such mimicry which perhaps did not go too well with the public of Shillong. In the West such flash mobs gather at a shopping mall or a protest location which does not hamper public movement. Here there is neither mall nor protest venue except the parking lot near the additional secretariat building. For now flash mobs should be a ‘No’ ‘No’ unless they go to Polo fields!

 Zero aesthetics – every place a bazaar

The viewpoint overlooking the Umiam Lake beckons many. Each time you drive past there are at least five or six vehicles carrying tourists to or from Shillong which stand at the point while tourists get photographs of the magnificent Lake. Recently it is noticed that a small shop has come up at the viewpoint and plastic packages (Uncle Chips, Lays etc) are strewn around. Hawkers are never known to take responsibility for littering the place around them. No one till date has asked them to clean up the mess they create. But the pertinent question is whether every viewpoint in this city and State must turn into an eating joint or a bazaar? It’s time for the Urban Affairs Department to do some zoning and decide what places they would like to keep away from hawkers and petty traders and where they want to locate the flea market. The disorder and chaos has to end. Said a seasoned tourist, “This is peculiar to Meghalaya. We can throw plastic bottles or plastic containers down the slope and it will reach the Umiam Lake but no one cares. The same happens at the Shillong viewpoint, Laitkor Peak. People eat and litter and there is no one to tell them they will be fined for doing so. Meghalaya is a cool, free for all paradise.” Is this Meghalaya’s way of tourism promotion?

 Of foul-mouthed waiters

The much touted restaurant at Khyndailad which boasts of its tryst with the high and mighty of this country has simply not lived up to its name. The waiters don’t believe in the dictum that the customer is always right. They practice the opposite. Verbal duels between the waiters and customers are common. Then the ordered menu is served late as if it depends on the mood of the waiters. On enquiry it is learnt that these waiters are sourced from the far flung areas of Meghalaya and are mostly school dropouts, uncouth and untrained and probably paid peanuts. Perhaps they cannot vent their frustration on the owner and so the consumers are at the receiving end. The only thing the restaurant owner has done is to dress them up in uniforms. But uniforms can hardly turn a foul-mouthed malcontent into a gentleman.

 Christmas without Christ

For many Christmas would mean a quiet, mournful stay at home since going to church in old, tattered clothes is unthinkable when the rest of the congregation is dressed to kill. Christians seem to have forgotten that Christ was born in abject poverty, primarily because He came to give hope to the hopeless and bring cheer to the poor. An elderly lady who is too old to attend church said it is high time to have a separate place of worship for the poor who cannot afford new or so-called decent clothes. Otherwise, many of the underdogs cannot worship because they are too shy to go to the churches which are packed with a well dressed, affluent gentry. Food for thought this one because Meghalaya is quickly becoming a classed society.