The future is calling

Rida Pasi is a 22-year-old talented weaver from Nangbah village in West Jaintia Hills. She specialises in eri silk weaves that she learnt at Directorate of Commerce and Industries Centre, Shillong. She is also the face of Muezart, an entrepreneurial platform for local artisans, on social media. “I took the training in weaving for a year. I would post photographs of my works on social media and one of my friends, Miranda (of Muezart), saw them and that is how I became a part of Muezart,” says the weaver, who completed her education till Class X and is the youngest of three siblings.
Pasi uses eri silk to make scarves and caps. She works with other young members of Muezart at its workshop in the city. “Muezart called me for spinning the thread but after seeing my works it took me on board the weaving team,” recalls Pasi, who loves knitting and tries to improvise in eri weaving.
Unlike wool, weaving eri silk is a complicated and time-consuming task and one has to be careful with the fine threads. But Pasi, who is probably the first eri weaver in the state, does it with aplomb using a special machine. “It is a challenging work and we have not heard about eri silk weavers in the state,” she says, adding that she always looks forward to feedback and criticisms from customers for better outcome in the future.
According to Pasi, her interactions and exchange of ideas with other team members make weaving a riveting experience at Muezart. “Muezart has helped me a lot. It has become a platform for me to show what I can do. It has helped weavers like me to showcase talent and teach others as well. We are also paid for our work,” she says.
If Pasi had not chosen weaving she could have also become an established sportsperson as she is a trained archer and was with the Sports Association of India.

(As told to Heather C Phanwar)

A “naughty child” in school, he grew up to be a talented boxer and MMA fighter. For many local youth, he is an inspiration. Meet Johny Nongrum (right in picture), the 30-year-old mixed martial art champion who grew up in Byrnihat.
Nongrum started his training in boxing at Sports Authority of India in 2005 though “I wanted to start when I was 11”.
“At first it was quite hard and I almost wanted to give up but later I started to like it and so I continued,” he recalls.
Nongrum’s biggest inspiration is his father, who was a karateka and supported his son in pursuing the sport of his choice. “I admire him from the time I saw his photograph in the (karate) costume,” he said.
Nongrum has many feathers to add to his cap. The boxer not only won medals at the state and North East levels but also in the national arena. “I would always have my tournaments during exams and it was a challenge to juggle studies and practice,” recollects Nongrum.
But a near-fatal accident in 2010 broke the rhythm of the young sportsman’s flourishing career. It was when he was preparing for international competitions. However, an undaunted Nongrum did not give up and decided to keep fighting against all adversities. Six years after the accident, he made a comeback but as an MMA fighter. His perseverance has inspired many to remain dedicated to the sport.
“I want to tell all fighters in the state that keep on training regularly, follow a proper diet and take good rest. But most importantly, I want to request them to be smart and stay away from drugs,” concludes Nongrum, who loves adventure, music and eating.

(As told to Richa Kharshandi)

Marborsing Marbaniang would make toys from clay and trash as a child. He would also use the waste pieces of wood from the workshop of his father, a carpenter and local architect, for his art works. His creativity bloomed with time. “I always liked the creative tasks in school… Now, I do sculptures, painting and other kinds of arts and decorations,” says the alumnus of Visva Bharati, Santiniketan.
The 30-year-old artist from Lumsohkhlur in Mairang is a lecturer of Fine Arts at Cherra Teachers’ Training Centre in Sohra. “I came to know about Santiniketan from senior artists like Lawanshaibha Kharmawlong and Benedict Skhemlang Hynniewta, who are also my mentors… Santiniketan helped me learn so many things in life and not just art. I learnt to overcome fear,” he says, adding, “but money was always a problem as I come from a humble family. I could not even avail of the state scholarship as it did not support the course I was doing.”
Marbaniang, who has received the North East Young Talented Artist award, believes that sculpture will help him explore the three-dimensional form in various ways. He is also the recipient of Junior Fellowship Scholarship from the Centre for Cultural Resources and Training, Delhi.
On the art scene in Meghalaya, the artist rues the poor awareness on fine arts in the state and wants to play a key role in helping young artists move forward. “My message to young artists is work hard… As we don’t have much heritage in art, we should strive to improve ourselves as well as help the next generation,” says Marbaniang, who finds inspiration in the works of Leonardo Da Vinci and sculptor Auguste Rodin.

(As told to Nabamita Mitra)

Gabriel T Mawlong is the “Kumar Sanu of Shillong”, at least that is what his friends call him. And they have an inch-perfect view.
In Shillong, musical talent is not rare. But a Khasi singer who specialises in Bollywood numbers is not quite common. That is what makes Mawlong stand out among the young talented singers in the state.
“My interest in popular Bollywood songs grew from the time of Amit Paul (who was the runner-up at the Indian Idol 2007 competition and much adulated in the state),” said the singer on phone from Uttarakhand where he is preparing for the grand finale of India’s Talent Fight, a reality show on television.
His rendition of Gazab ka hai din from the film Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak and Chura ke dil mera from Main Khiladi Tu Anari is a treat for those who grew up listening to Sanu hits in the nineties.
Funding, says the 24-year-old singer, is a perennial problem as there is no support from the Department of Arts and Culture. “Every time I travelled for audition I had to spend from my pocket, which puts a financial pressure on me. However, I have received help from public representatives like MLAs and MDCs,” he says.
The singer is also “grateful to the All Meghalaya Dancers’ Association” for its support and encouragement.
Mawlong is among the Top 10 in the show and is all set to give his best. “If I win the competition, then it will be dedicated first to my parents. My mother has always been my strength. And then I shall be grateful to my wife, my family and friends,” says Mawlong, who wants to become a playback singer in Bollywood.

(As told to Nabamita Mitra)

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