Friday, June 14, 2024
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Shillong Jottings

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Of abandoned constituencies

 With a little over a year left for the assembly elections in the state, political parties are already gung ho preparing for the final countdown.

From mergers to stand alone parties things are hotting up. And rumours are flying thick and fast about who is contesting from where. Former Home Minister RG Lyngdoh has kept everyone guessing with a, “wait and see smile.”

Some editors of local dailies also seem to be gearing up for the polls. Meanwhile the delimitation has left quite a few constituencies orphaned. Take the case of the former Laitumkhrah constituency which includes parts of Nongthymmai, Pohkseh, Nongrim Hills etc. These localities are complaining that there is no development at all.

The lanes and by-lanes in these areas have never never repaired in the last 15 years although candidates had promised the moon while campaigning.

This attitude has hurt the localities. It is learnt that they are now looking for a change. “What’s the point of having an MLA who’s also minister when all the development is going to the new constituency?” is a common refrain.

“Change” is the operative word this time. Will it happen? “Time will tell,” say the voters of Laitumkhrah and Nongthymmai who have been abandoned by their present MLAs.

Saturday is truck’s day out

On Saturday, an SMS floated around town. It said: Travel advisory: Hundreds of trucks let loose in the streets of Shillong. Citizens are advised not to venture out into the streets. Keep indoors to prevent physical injury.
The brave ones who decide to come out must wear masks or carry oxygen cylinders. For most Shillongites,  Saturday is the only free day for an outing with family, for shopping and for visiting friends and relatives. But such plans are no longer feasible said those who got caught in the traffic jam, Saturday. It seemed like an all-truck day beginning from morning.
“When will we get a respite from this ubiquitous traffic jam?” complained an irate mother with her restless kids inside the car, caught in the middle of a big jam near Dhankheti. Police have given up. A senior police official said, “This problem is beyond us.
If Government does not regulate the number of trucks that can be allowed each day, we can do nothing”.  The official said every day there are over 60,000 trucks criss-crossing Shillong. If small cars are added the number goes up to about 80,000 plus vehicles.
“An exasperated scribe who got late for his appointment asked, “ Can’t we do something about this daily mortification?” Good question but who will bell the cat?

A spontaneous CM

The Tourism meet in Shillong was well attended by tour promoters not only from North Eastern states but also Eastern India. That is to be expected. The Union Tourism Minister, Subodh Kant  Sahay is from Orissa.
According to the local grapevine the day’s deliberations were  meaningful as attempts are on to create a tourism circuit of all the eight states plus Bengal and Odisha.
But what floored the participants was the cultural programme in the evening where Chief Minister, Dr Mukul Sangma not only sang but also danced much to the delight of the audience. They were awed by the spontaneity of the CM. “It’s a very healthy way to unload the day’s pressing problems,” said an official.
The participants were later informed that Dr Sangma also has a song CD to his credit and that he enjoys singing. In a world where jobs are pigeon-holed anyone who breaks out of the set paradigm is seen as a maverick. “Better a maverick who knows to enjoy his life than a grumpy unapproachable politician,” said one visitor from Nagaland.

Early Christmas shopping

Christmas is approaching and people have got wiser and begun their shopping ahead of time. Besides, the sudden cold that descended on Shillong in the last week has sent people rushing to buy woolens.
All the shops stocking woolen garments in Khyndailad are making a kill. In recent times, sales-persons are unable to attend to customers. They are overwhelmed by the demand.One observant customer said, “ It  seems like the whole of Jaintia Hills is on a shopping spree at downtown Shillong. Prices just shoot up because it’s the seller’s market.”
Ordinary customers who are on a shoe-string budget are ignored. Shop owners give personal attention to those who appear loaded with “coal” dough. “Life is no longer simple,” said one frustrated customer waiting to get the attention of a salesperson. “A time will come when we will not be able to afford anything because we will have to compete with black (coal) money. They have already invaded our civic space; now they have encroached into our commercial space,” muttered one customer who also wanted personal attention but was not getting it. “Christmas is reduced to a shopping carnival,” exclaimed a government official who was out shopping. Life indeed is one complex mess!

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