Gandhi Jayanti and Shillong...Love thy neighbourhood
|A Khasi neigbourhood in Shillong|
When I was in Shillong, all through the 90s, Mahatma Gandhi's birthday had a unique significance in my neighbourhood.
We had a compulsory cleaning drive, organized by the Rangbah shnong or locality head. This annual ritual was a must do for all the families residing in the locality.
My mom was always our keen representative, with generous moral support from her kids. This annual spree made me realize how much easier cleaning just your house is. You can imagine the enormous effort involved in cleaning one whole locality, through its drains, roads and turns. Though challenging, the event had its fun part too.
When the spades and brooms were done with their cleaning march, the whole locality divided itself into comfort zones (neighbours, close friends). The participating members got treated to delicious snacks and drinks. The innocent treats were mostly prepared by families, who couldn't really go out and take on the roads and drains. No alcohol, thanks to the auspicious date being a dry day, but lots of loud music. It may sound like mundane fun, but in those days, community living and sharing was pretty special.
I vividly remember how green and clean the locality looked and felt towards the end of that day. What better way, to celebrate such an important event. The more I think about it, the more respect I have for all my neighbours and friends, who restrained themselves from a holiday picnic and happily plunged into a community cleaning mood.
Like most things in life, I look back with happy but anxious thoughts of what really happened in that one corner of Shillong yesterday. I’m sure a lot has changed, but sappy me would like to place the spades, the brooms, my mom, the neighbours and my friends in one comfort zone, just the way I saw them last, a decade ago. I can't say much about the drains and roads. A little bird told me, they just got beyond cleaning, with too many filthy rich doing the traffic filth!