Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Lewduh or Bara Bazar in Shillong- Day 4

We went out to see Lewduh or Bara Bazar, the largest traditional market of the Khasis. I wanted to buy some bamboo rice and our cook and Chotu told me that it’s available at Bara Bazar. Every eighth day in the month will be the main Marke Day at Bara Bazar and the market comes alive literally with the produces from the length and breadth of the Khasi and the Jaintia hills rushed by all possible means of transport for retail as well as wholesale selling.

The town was bustling with wonderful people, the roads were busy with vehicles, and yet there was a presence of happiness and freedom. The culture was a mix between modern-Christian-tribal. Handsome men and beautiful women fashionably dressed walked around town.

Though much of the products were agricultural, all sorts of textiles, hardware and consumer goods, besides essential commodities, were available. The most distinctive feature of this ancient market was the total domination of its retail trade by the Khasi women, who were everywhere, all over Lewduh, full of smiles but with remarkable acumen for trade and commerce.

I was fascinated by the women who were selling vegetables and groceries, some chatting, clad in their traditional attire, bright red lipstick adorning their lips. It was like a world of liberated women where men had no say! We saw some beautiful bananas in a fruit stall and when we enquired, the woman selling them said Rs 80 for 12 bananas. That means a whopping Rs 6.60 per banana! We were in no mood of bargaining and went further.

The stalls at Bara Bazar offered a rare but distinct glimpse of the Khasi tribal society. The stalls were piled high with produce from the surrounding villages. Honey, pineapples, piglets, dried fish, wild mushrooms, raw betel nut, betel leaves, bamboo baskets and other produce were available at different stalls.

Some vendors offered some of the best Meghalaya products for the most reasonable prices. A quick bargain purchase of some of the hand woven goods and natural resources was one of the best deals of our life. We entered a stall and bought some charms, bamboo handicrafts, wall hangings, table mattress and other stuff, all for less than Rs 500 from there! We bargained well and the stall owner though initially was reluctant, later on budged to our bargaining skills ;)

The alcohol price in Meghalaya is damn cheap compared to other parts of the country and it can give a tough competition to Goa. One out of every five shops in Shillong is definitely a wine shop!!

Then we went to Hotel Continental and had some yummy dinner. We took Butter Naan, Chicken fry, Fish fry, mixed noodles, Aloo Banarasi and tomato soup. As I mentioned earlier, we did not eat non-veg. The food was very tasty and worth for what we paid. We went back to our room around 10 pm. We had to wake up early as we had planned to go to Cherrapunjee the next day.

Before finishing this post, let me tell you one more thing. The city is known to have many rock bands of its own. People here love music and sing beautifully. Shillong has bred and survived as India’s underground music hub. Ever since the 1970’s when the age of blues and rock and roll was booming and people in the other parts of India were probably not exposed to music of this kind, Shillong was where one could find records and cassettes of albums which were just released. In no other place in India does blues, rock and roll and country music rule so powerfully. The small town of Shillong is where no DJs survive or no records are scratched, it’s where good music is enjoyed just the way it is. The symphony that music creates and the number of souls it touches is what makes Shillong stand out from the other metropolitan cities in India. In no other place in India does blues, rock and roll and country music rule so powerfully. The likes of Bob Marley and Bob Dylan are famous personalities here. So much so that the birthdays of Bob Dylan and John Denver are more of a national holiday here and celebrated with high spirits. Many local bands have great talent and put up awesome concerts, and country music is amongst the favorite of genres. Shawn Lane, the legendary guitarist and composer, once said: “ ...Man, this place barely exists on the map and there are all these wonderful people coming out of the woodworks with Powers of 10 albums and posters that I haven’t even seen in America...(T)hey know everything I have ever done, every tune I have ever played... it’s just bizarre, simply inconceivable...” This is more than enough to know that the love and lust for music is naturally in the blood of people from Shillong.

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