Tuesday, August 09, 2005

This is the North East

Returned from a four-day trip to Guwahati. The TRI Continental Film Festival was traveling to the North East.

(Over whisky and rum)
Me: I have this confusion. Should I, shouldn't I talk of the "North east"?
B: It is a rather meaningless term. There is so much strife and ignorance in this region.
B proceeds to give me a thrifty overview of these problems. She is part of the North East Network.

Another evening. I've run into N, a friend of a friend, at the film festival, and she invites me to hang out with her and a few friends. We're at L's house, and L's bar is also stocked with rum and whisky. I'm not keen to repeat the rum-with-water experience and we go down to get some beer.

N tells me she couldn't stand watered rum or whisky either, but then she returned to Assam after a decade and her cousins said: What kind of a tribal are you? You need to sweeten your drink before drinking it? Finally, a few weeks back, when as usual there was nothing on offer except whisky, her resistance wore off and she now guzzles it as well as a veteran.

I was supposed to have gone to Shillong for screenings on the 5th. The program got postponed. The Khasi Students' Union had agitated about something or the other and the govt. declared a six o'clock curfew. I was told people would be scared to come for a festival even during the afternoon.

There has been an economic blockade in Manipur since June 19. Over 50 days now. Imagine the shortages people had to face: food, medicines, all essential goods and commodities.

The IAF finally airlifted supplies on the 6th of August. I had no knowledge about it till the 4th when B told me about it. I might have missed it in our Dilli newspapers - I checked with the lover, a more consistent reader of news; he hadn't seen it either.

The Guwahati newspapers were carrying each development on the front page. The national media seems to have picked the story up now, after the Centre's involvement.

To be continued...

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