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Seeking Wisdom in Tribal Storytelling

There was a beautiful girl called Ramenhawii who was famous for her very long hair. All the young men in the village desired her but none could win her favour. One day she was washing her hair in the river, a fish swallowed her hair. A strand of the hair found its way to the plate of the king of the valley as he was being served dinner by the palace cook. Filled with curiosity at the sight of the beautiful hair the king ordered his guards to look for the owner of the hair as he wished to make her his queen. After a long search, the guards at last found the place where the girl lived but they were unable to approach her as she lived protected by barricades around her.

“Oh! Please tell us at least your name” implored the king’s guards.

She replied: ‘No name, no name have I, I live on pure water, I live on pure vegetables.’

Mizo tale of “Ramenhawii.”

“If the end of nineteenth century underlines the distressing effects of industrial revolution and colonialism, the end of twentieth century witnesses the emergence of two paradoxical processes: (i) globalization: a process that cuts across the boundaries of nations, cultures and societies privileging a move towards larger integration of the world and facilitating interdependence moving towards a global culture; and (ii) resistances to globalization: in the form of a vehement articulation of the local  for preservation of indigenous cultures and identities,” writes Kailash C. Baral, Director of Northeast Campus of the Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages (CIEFL) at Shillong in his essay Globalization and Tribes of  Northeast India . There is no escape from the emerging reality that the ‘Global Village’ is a community stripped of all heterogeneity of cultural and traditional flows of life – life here is equated with economic aspirations of market that sell a pipe dream of prosperity while hiding the bleak future. And such realization cannot be disposed off anymore as alarmist.

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Earth Day 2012 on top of the World

I grew up in this town, my poetry was born between the hill and the river, it took its voice from the rain, and like the timber, it steeped itself in the forests

Pablo Neruda

It was almost 9.30 p.m  as Jan Shatabdi Express from Delhi sluggishly rolled in alongside Dehradun. I left the comfort of the air conditioned chair-car, anticipation eating into me and was breathing the familiar Indian Rail station smell. No, I did not grow up in this town and my poetry is novice. But I am in eternal tug and pull between hill and river; I saw life in great river country of Bengal and fell in love with it. Yet Himalaya with its lofty heights and ancient stories beckoned me all my life. Presently, on this railway platform, I was going to meet a friend whom I have not seen with my eyes. It could not get any more exciting!

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Darjeeling – The Fallen Queen

Though some British East India Company officials stayed in the village of Darjeeling in 1828 and considered the place suitable for a sanatorium for British soldiers, the remote hilly village might not have turned into a hill city of international repute had the Sikkim Chogyal not imprisoned the British East India Company Director Arthur Campbell and explorer botanist Joseph Dalton Hooker in 1849. This ensured a rescue operation by the British and a renewed interest for this ‘home-like’ territory and by 1866 it came to exist in its present shape and form as a hill station. Read more >>

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All opinions are solely those of the author. Reader's discretion necessary for using any of the contents of this website. (c) Pabitra Mukhopadhyay 2011
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