Meghalaya is an embodiment of eternal bliss and tranquillity wrapped in absolute beauty. The ‘Abode of Clouds’ acquires its charm from the picturesque locales, bountiful nature, fresh and sedating surroundings and yes the adventure sports. The exposition of exuberant emerald hills and glens often bathing in frequent drizzles will resuscitate one’s spirit. Meghalaya culture has a rich tribal heritage. One of the distinct features of the people here is their tradition of a matrilineal system where lineage and inheritance are traced through women.
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Let yourself be taken over by the Meghalaya culture and life with these books!
Title: Funeral Nights
Author: Kynpham Sing Nongkynrih
Blurb: A group of friends from Shillong journey to a remote part of West Khasi Hills to witness Ka Phor Sorat, the feast of the dead, and a unique six-day-long funeral ceremony of the Lyngngams, a Khasi sub-tribe. By mistake, however, the group ends up reaching the secluded hamlet of Nongshyrkon seven days early. Stuck in the jungle for eleven days, they spend their nights around a fire in the middle of a spacious hut built especially for them, sharing stories and debating issues in what turns out to be a journey of discovery for all of them.
Funeral Nights is an unconventional novel—a vast collection of stories big and small, not so much about death, but about life, past, present and future, rural and urban, high and low; about admirable men and women, raconteurs and pranksters, lovers and fools, drunks and taxi drivers; about culture and history, religion and God, myth and legend. Inspired by the narrative frame of Boccaccio’s The Decameron and The Arabian Nights, but adopting a seriocomic style, this is intimate access to a whole world, spectacular in its documentation of a tribe’s life and culture such as has never been attempted before.
Price: Rs. 970 || Pages: 1024
Title: Name Place Animal Thing
Author: Daribha Lyndem
Publisher: Zubaan Publishers
Blurb: In this novella, Daribha Lyndem gently lifts the curtain on the coming of age of a young Khasi woman and the politically charged city of Shillong in which she lives. Like the beloved school game from which it takes its name, the book meanders through ages, lives and places. The interconnected stories build on each other to cover the breadth of childhood and move into the precarious awareness of adulthood. A shining debut, Name Place Animal Thing is an elegant examination of the porous boundaries between the adult world and that of a child.
Price: Rs. 477 || Pages: 208
Title: In ARDEN: A Memoir of Four Years in Shillong, 1974-78
Author: Brijraj Singh
Publisher: Pippa Rann Books and Media
Blurb: Newly married, the author and his wife went to teach English at a newly established university in north-eastern India. During their four years there, they made many friends, getting to know some unique features of the countryside, as well as the tribal culture of the locals who were fast modernizing. These memoirs communicate his experiences, discoveries, and disappointments. A somewhat unusual introduction to the Khasi Hills, its people, and those years, in a fascinating part of India that is still too little known.
Price: Rs. 339 || Pages: 288
Blurb: Twenty-five-year-old Sophie Das has moved from Shillong to Bangalore in search of work, fun and liberty. Neti, Neti follows Sophie and her free-spirited friends through offices, pubs, call centres, night streets, shopping malls, rock concerts, and the homes of Bangalore’s newly rich, as Sophie starts to feel more and more alienated in the money-mad city. A horrific murder sends her back to her hometown, where her Hamlet-quoting father and increasingly religious mother are chasing their separate dreams.
Will Sophie be able to pull back from the brink and find herself a home?
Price: Rs. 350 || Pages: 287
Title: Shadow Men: A Novel and Two Stories
Author: Bijoya Sawian
Publisher: Speaking Tiger Publishing
Blurb: Raseel, visiting her old school friend Aila in Shillong, is determined to get to the truth behind the strange death of a ‘dkhar’, an outsider, on the grounds of her hosts’ house. As she begins to unravel the mystery, Raseel finds herself caught in a tale of intrigue and violence that mirrors the world of insurgency around her.
The tense and dramatic undercurrents that emerge in Shadow Men continue in the stories that follow. In ‘The Flight’, eighteen-year-old Mawii has to make a difficult decision between her ‘own people’ and her one true love—when that love involves a ‘vai’—yet another word for ‘outsider’. And in ‘The Limp’, octogenarian Nipendro Roy finally feels he ‘belongs’ in this hill state to which he came as a twenty-year-old immigrant from Bengal.
Shillong remains the true hero in these stories, as Bijoya Sawian draws the reader into a world where the downside of a matrilineal society, the scourge of drugs, alcohol and corrupt politicians, the disconnect with mainstream India, and above all, the fight for identity and belonging, threaten to rock this idyllic hill state that was once a paradise and, perhaps, no longer is.
Price: Rs. 254 || Pages: 176
Title: Boats on Land
Author: Janice Pariat
Publisher: Random House India
Blurb: Boats on Land is a unique way of looking at India’s northeast and its people against a larger historical canvas―the early days of the British Raj, the World Wars, conversions to Christianity, and the missionaries. This is a world in which every day is infused with folklore and a deep belief in the supernatural. Here, a girl dreams of being a firebird. An artist watches souls turn into trees. A man shape-shifts into a tiger. Another is bewitched by water fairies. Political struggles and social unrest interweave with fireside tales and age-old superstitions. Boats on Land quietly captures our fragile and awkward place in the world.
Price: Rs. 239 || Pages: 296
Title: Shillong Times: A Story of Friendship And Fear
Author: Nilanjan P. Choudhury
Publisher: Speaking Tiger Publishing
Blurb: When fourteen-year-old Debojit Dutta meets the slightly older Clint Eastwood Lyngdoh in his maths tuition classes, he is wary of his cigarette-smoking, whisky-swilling ways. But Debu is unable to resist being friends with Clint. For, in return for doing his maths homework, Clint introduces him to a completely new life: the heady charms of Kalsang, the Chinese restaurant forbidden by Debu’s mother; the revolutionary sounds of Pink Floyd; and most importantly, the coolest, prettiest girl in town—Audrey Pariat. Audrey loves maths and detective stories, just like Debu, and does not make him feel awkward or exotic. Together, the three of them look set to embark on many adventures. But when tensions between the Khasi and Bengali communities boil over, Shillong becomes a battlefield—old neighbours become outsiders and the limits of friendship are challenged.
With crackling energy, Nilanjan P. Choudhury immerses us in the tumultuous lives of Debu, his friends and his family, and their attempts to find love and belonging. Written with uncommon warmth, humour and a delightful evocation of place, Shillong Times is an exhilarating coming-of-age story—showing us how friendship can eclipse the hardened enmities of adulthood.
Price: Rs. 274 || Pages: 248
Title: People Called Shillong
Author: Nisha Nair Gupta
Publisher: The People Place Project
Blurb: After the success of People Called Mumbai and People Called Ahmedabad, we travel to Shillong. It is one of the important cities in the Northeast India-with a history of transformation from tribal hills to a colonial summer capital to the present day education hub. A hospitable and picturesque city,nestled in the Khasi hills, with all trappings that make it a ‘go-to hill station’, is so much more than the language of clichés. It provides us with a perfect setting for the third book in the series – People Called Shillong.
People Called Shillong intends to capture the geography and the textures transcending beyond the cliches. 50 stories capturing the heartbeat, the life and times of this city in Khasi hills, with an aim to provide a re-reading and an intimate one!
Price: Rs. 399 || Pages: 295
This list of books is curated by Amritesh Mukherjee for Purple Pencil Project’s Instagram.