Shillong has been on my bucket list of places to visit since forever. Nestled between never ending blanket of trees and cloud, this place is every writers dream destination. Nothing like using the help of nature to bolster your creativity. This book provides a unique perspective of Shillong. It talks about the flora, the fauna, the culture, all via it’s inhabitants.
The cover, the introduction, all of it reeks the flavor of the North Eastern part of the country. The stories have evidently been carefully compiled based on various aspects of Shillong. Of the 10 stories, I read, I learnt about the Shillong tryst with Rock music, the hottest pepper – Raja Mircha, their food, their cultural music, their tribal culture and a lot more. The stories were followed by a beautiful and a meaningful sketch of various things related to the city and it’s culture.
As stated earlier, the stories have been very thoughtfully compiled to give a complete sense and feel of shillong. These stories are not typical ones with a proper plot and a conflict. They are stories about people, things, culture and what not. Essentially it’s all things Shillong. However, if the prime focus of these stories had been to highlight the facts, then the book would have been a boring collection of nothing but facts. Also, it can be safely said that these stories aren’t fact based fiction either. They are just the lives of people who live in the place or have been to the place narrated in a such a manner that they don’t become as boring as plain facts. The human touch is what made the facts and facets more interesting to read.
Writing & Editing
The writing is as simple as it can get. No fancy words, no fancy phrases. Yet the stories were so effective in terms of feel, visual imagery, characterization and what not. The people felt real, the scenery felt surreal. If reading this book wouldn’t induce you to travel to Shillong, nothing else really would enthuse you to book that ticket and go backpacking.
The editing also was just perfect given that the book is a compilation. It is extremely hard to understand the mindset of a diverse group of people and bring out a single theme from all the stories. The editor and the compiler surely has done a stellar job of it.
Though the stories were way too good, it would have made a bit more sense to talk a bit about how the author of each story a bit in the end of respective stories. It would have given a insight into what made these stories that they are.
My favorite stories were Tale of Interpretations, The haunted valley and Conversations around a Phuga.