Manipur is an exciting tourist destination but where is it? It’s time to reveal this. So here I am, after a brush with resurgent Manipur with its growing tourism, especially during the annual Sangai Festival that includes International polo tournament in November each year. The renaissance is best captured in the book, ‘The Other Manipur’ in 6 volumes, edited by H Dwijasekhar Sharma, my contemporary, and the most eminent economist Manipur has ever produced.
The level of support for the spontaneous origin of life 3.5 billion year ago, perhaps in a “warm little pond” as speculated by Darwin, is now accepted by an overwhelming majority. However, there is still a handful who believes that life was created by ‘Intelligent design’ (ID), with hair-raising absurdism and a venomously funny streak.
Silas Weir Mitchell was one of the most prominent physicians in 19th and early 20th century America, famous for his research on phantom limbs. In his youth, however, his father wanted him to become a surgeon. There was one major problem. He had no energy ie capacity for performing surgery, often fainting at operations.
Nothing existed forever. Nat “King” Cole set a gold standard for smooth jazz singing with his baritone voice in his “Unforgettable/Unforgettable/that’s what you are … in 1951. All the evidence seems to indicate, that the universe has not existed forever. It had a beginning, about 15 billion years ago.
I was born in a family with guns. My father Gulamjat had a single-barrel shot gun. My eldest brother Gokulchandra had Webly & Scott .32 revolver, .22 rifle and 12-bore double barrel shotgun. During my student time, I practiced with them all. During my college holidays, I went to shoot wild pigeons with the .22 rifle at Langol Hill and at my friend Kh Dhiren’s rice research farm at Wangban.
I was born aged 15, knowing everything, in the endangered narcissistic Meitei species. Far too late. I should have been born aged 1O months. I’m not nostalgic, just opportunistic, to grab this space that, precociousness isn’t a nice thing to be. You lose your childhood innocence. As a well-dressed and smart post-war boy with a cooked ‘primordial soup’ of my brain, I considered my contemporaries a bit infantile and so, I kept company with older guys like Ta-Gojen Moirangthem, Ta-Indramani Tourangbam, Ta-Achoubi Pukhrambam et cetera.
And I spoke like them. That caused pain in the bum of a few fathers in my neighbourhood, who had sons about my age, but none-too- bright. I was disliked like someone who uses the rising inflection at the end of each sentence, and in modernity, like someone who preface every second word with “like” and drawn out as “likaaa”.
I’ve been through emotional wringer in my last week’s column. Now it’s countdown to hot water.
Everything is hunky-dory with love in the air, but love has casualties. A broken heart isn’t just a figure of speech. It causes actual physical pain. That you may die of a broken heart has become a scientific reality. It’s happening despite increasing digitalisation of romance with significant changes in “falling in love” in this post-modern age of “loving you by not falling in love”.
After the Japanese gave “Britannia ruled the waves” a nasty shock in southeast Asia with their lightening attacks, they sneaked through the jungles of Burma, infested with malaria, cholera and dysentery, right to the outskirts of Imphal. Imphal thus became the nerve centre of the British Commonwealth soldiers fighting the Japanese simultaneously at Imphal and Kohima fronts. It was as if the whole u
The apocalyptic modernity of WWII made Imphal town look like the Hollywood ghost town in Santa Fe in the Old Wild West. After the second bombing over Imphal on May 16 1942, six days after the first, Gimson told my father during one of his visits that, a few bombs fell on his Residency compound. One demolished the main jail gate. Many prisoners escaped. Thousands more of the refugees, mostly Indians including Helen of Bollywood, and a handful of Europeans, who had tracked along the old trodden path over the mountains from Tamu in Burma to Moreh in Manipur, and been staying at Koirengei, had left on foot for Assam.
Before I begin today’s column I would like to express my tender emotions like poetry drawn from the prose, to see online, the images of Krishna Janma celebration at Mahabali on August 15 this year, as I remember going there as a little boy just before WWII. Equally touching is the group photograph of North American Manipuri Association convention 2017, US, with 200 membership of Manipuri diasporas, including one from my school days. As I recall I was one of the first three Manipuris who have ever settled in the West.
On August 15 1947 India got Independence. On August 8 1942 the Quit India movement was launched in Bombay by All India Congress Committee, led by Mahatma Gandhi. But, it was the beat of a distant drum in Manipur, muffled by the sound and fury of World War II or Japanlan.
The joy of Independence Day permeated all over Manipur on August 14 1947. I was there. But, Manipur had an Achilles Heel, the Manipur State Congress. Another fatal weakness for the superficial was the inherent silliness of the premise that Meiteis and Meiteilon are Tibeto-Burman.
The aesthetic offence of the 1950’s educational revolution, seduced by Grierson, was to dupe young Meiteis into believing something that is not true.