Sunday, February 25, 2024

Shillong Jottings…


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Wall Street

MarketIf somebody in town told you “Let’s go to Wall Street Market”, what would be your reaction? In disbelief you might say, “What? Wall Street Market? In Shillong?”
If the questioner says, “Yes, you heard it right”. Then you may admonish him for leg-pulling. You may also give him a bit of GK on Wall Street Market like, it is located in New York; it is the world’s biggest stock market worth nearly USD 40 trillion etc etc. But your friend with chuckle tells you authoritatively that he was talking about the Wall Street Market of Shillong. “Don’t believe? Come with me I will take you there”.The man leads you to IGP in his car, crosses Kachari point and turns right towards Raj Bhavan junction and then heads towards Additional Secretariat building. He parks his car in front of All Saints Diocesan’s Church, and asks you to follow him on foot. Taking a few paces towards Additional Secretariat, he stops on the road. Nonplussed as you are, you ask him in an annoyed tone, “Where? Where is the damn market?” The man points finger towards the makeshift market created ingenuously by using the little space provided in the concrete wall of Additional Secretariat building. Garden-fresh vegetables, seasonal fruits etc make for a good street-side (vegetable and fruits) market, literally on the wall. “This is what I call Wall Street Market”, he explained with a grin.
Not to be totally outsmarted, you would like to tell him, “Not just here. You will find Wall Street Market along the footpath from Crow Borough Hotel leading to Khyndai Lad”.
Incidentally, town’s Wall Street Market seems to have come to stay. For, they are doing fair business without having to worry about rentals and other overheads, except maybe for the elements.

Going by the rulebook
When on duty, those manning the entrance to public places in the city are generally lenient
when it comes to ensuring COVID-19 protocols. With just a quick temperature check and no words, they let visitors in. But this man at the entrance to Ka Phan Nonglait Park seems to be at a different level, as far as devotion to duty is concerned.On Sunday, some visitors insisted on their child be allowed to enter the park. The group went on and on explaining that the child was 10 years old, but the man rejected their claims saying that she looked younger.A heated debate ensued.The group retorted, asking him to reach out to her school to find out her actual age. He snapped back at them: “Show me the birth certificate of the child then!”
Withdrawing from the growing number of audience that had accumulated at the entrance to witness the commotion, an SJ team member, who was also on a visit to the park, went inside the venue only to later spot the family with the kid happily perched on the grass.

The ‘Beetles of Shillong’
Come winter and Shillong witnesses the ruiwalla (quilt makers) with an iconic instrument called the Jantar roaming the lanes and by-lanes of the city. They string their Jantar to draw the attention of residents. They carry with them a few kilos of fresh cotton, sheet covers, needle and thread and a stick to fluff up the cotton.One cotton blanket can be made from 2-3 kg of cotton which will cost around Rs 600-750, stitching charges Rs 600 and will take them around 1-2 hours to complete the job. It will cost around Rs 1200- 1400.
The process is simple — they beat up the fresh cotton with their lathi (stick) and then with the help of the Jantar they beat them into a finer consistency to fluff them up. The cotton is then stuffed into the sheet cover and stitched.It is a dying trade as people are now buying blankets made of synthetic cotton which is lighter and more comfortable. Hussain and Ahmed, the quilt makers find it difficult to get jobs now. Times have changed. Cotton quilts are now no longer favoured because they tend to be heavy and cannot be washed or dry-cleaned whereas the quilts with artificial fluff are. Quilt-making is now a dying trade. Alas! The quilt makers will have to reinvent themselves to survive.


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