Ch 4-The Land of Clouds : Insight

img_1583I knew Shillong was a tiny city but when the sun went down and the city- dwellers  lit-up their houses, I saw her real vastness. She is not a small town like Kurseong, but large and versatile like Shimla.sh1Shillong has an air-force base, resulting in prohibition to photography in and around many government and public places or buildings. We stayed at the White Orchid guest house at Malki Point. One can avail share taxi services @ 10/- per head from Malki point to Police Bazar- the heart of the city and vice versa.img_1971If your lucky to pass without traffic, the driver will take you via Kacheri road, passing the All Saints Church where Zicco & Sophie got married. The other route happens to be through narrow lanes with ups and downs. These steep roads have blind turnings and to my amazement drivers seldom blew horns, may be as an effort to cut down the noise pollution- a risky choice !img_1938Police Bazar Chowk is a junction point of five roads- three of which was very congested with bazar, stalls, showrooms, restaurants, shops and a mall. The best way to explore a city is to be on foot. So we started to explore the city from the busy streets.img_2063We were looking for the Bhutia Bazar where one could get good sneakers, casual shoes, leather jackets jeans, T-shirts  at a bargain able cost. We took the road which had  Center Point Hotel  at its entrance . It is quiet a walk till you see an Archie’s glow sign board on your left and the market opposite to it. A narrow ramp led us to the underground two-storeyed  Bhutia bazar, although there are another two storeys about this market, filled with more shopping options.img_2059I was interested in trying the khasi cuisine so I kept prying my eyes, across the street for any authentic place until I found the Red Bamboo Shoot. Bamboo shoot is an important ingredient in many traditional North-eastern cuisine. The menu card I had in my hand was difficult to decipher for obvious reasons (language barrier), so I played safe with the pork momos which turned out to be divinely delicious.img_2060One day when I stopped-by at a road side stall for a snack, I realized that most of their preparations are hot due to the use of their hot chilies, which is used mostly to keep them warm in the otherwise cold terrain.img_1747The chillies of this geographical location is indeed very hot, even the hottest chilli of the world the Bhut Jolokia or the Red Naga Jolokia are largely produced in Meghalaya, Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.IMG_1626.JPGApart from Bhut Jolokia the rich Meghalaya also produces large amount of other spices like ginger, turmeric and mustard. Orange is also found in abundance there. On the way to Cherrapunji or at Cherrapunji Bazar one can get orange honey which I have never heard of.img_1751During my market survey I bought some local berries which was similar to our Kala Jamun,  but sweeter and juicier and stained the fingers and mouth dark red. I learnt about Cherry Brandy- another unique produce of Meghalaya but once again failed to locate it! Kyat is the traditional drink of the Khasi’s-  made from fermented rice which was suppose to be available at every local bar there but I didn’t spot any local bar (thek) ! I even had trouble locating a liquor shop, eventually found one at the basement of this large mall- red building at the chowk itself. Recently the government closed more than 10 liquor shops under the rule that no such shops or bars can be operated within 100 meters of any school or college.img_17532nd October is declared as dry day pan India, so we had to buy in black! One of my friends located this weird and interesting joint to buy liquor offline on that evening. Imagine a road side high drain, covered with a series of cemented slab. Now sometime they have rectangular openings at the side of the road for drainage, large enough to pass a full bottle of rum.IMG_2122.jpg  We were standing upon one such road side pavement and ordering our stock  when suddenly he put his hand inside one such window, commanded something and presented a bottle of Old Monk. I was totally amazed! The shop was beneath the pavement we were standing on and I have no idea weather he was standing or sitting or how much stock they have in there. I have seen some small shops beneath bigger shops at Barra Bazar and north Kolkata along with Karseong. 14563382_1225962124092725_2056934990539925273_nEarlier that day we went to Dawki  and was looking for beer. Our driver stopped at a closed wine shop, in this hamlet and arranged us our drink for an extra 20/- bucks. Prices for alcohol in black is much higher in Kolkata. Seeing this my brother exclaimed, ” These people don’t care about Gandhi in any color or size! They live a peaceful life with very little knowledge or bother for the so-called ‘world outside’.14517579_1225910980764506_3717395145582874601_nWe had a great time in Shillong but most is still left to explore …

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