Of Rock Music, Their Aficionados and the Mind-set of the Hoi Polloi

Ever since the last few months, my newsfeed on facebook has been continuously filled with updates from a group of enthusiastic rock music lovers from Manipur. The group’s primary aim is to help and promote all the rock musicians that hail from Manipur and North Eastern States. I am talking about none other than our very own Rock Music Community of Manipur. Yes they are the ones who recently spearheaded one of the historical events in our state- a never before held metal rock convention right in our home town. I missed the concert but thanks to facebook and thanks to all those friends/aficionados of rock music who had uploaded live photos and even enabled live streaming videos of the concert because of which I could nearly enjoy First Metal Convention in Imphal.

It was indeed a big day for many rock music fans in Manipur and also from the North East. This first ever metal convention in the state was headlined by none other than the God of Thrash Metal- POST MARK. Most of the metal heads claim POSTMARK as the first metal band of India. When the rest of the country was stuck to Bollywood with Baba Sehgal or Anu Malik, POSTMARK introduced a new taste of music that now runs in the vein of every rock music lover from our state. The formation of POSTMARK band in fact marked the beginning of the metal age era in the country as a whole. And after 18 long years, the band members were reunited on stage on that very day. Besides POSTMARK, other bands who participated in the convention include-

YONSAMPLE (KOLKATA)
AZURE DELUSION (NAGALAND)
CLEAVE (IMPHAL)
CHEM WEED FM (IMPHAL)
DEAD MOBSTER (IMPHAL)
SANDREMBEE (IMPHAL)

Despite the busy professional/personal schedules, sleepless nights, financial problems and heaps of unexpected issues every now and then they finally created history in the state with the recent ‘Metal Convention on 14th April 2012.

‘Rock touraga kei kaanadoino’ is a common mindset among maximum section of our society. Therefore, helping or promoting rock musicians in Manipur means facing lots of challenges- financial, personal, professional- you name it. It is also worth noting that most of the rock musicians and aficionados in our state are misconstrued on many grounds. For an individual who wants to culture or promote the taste of rock music, ‘Rock ta ngaorabani maadi’ is one hell of a discouraging feedback from a relative, friend or even a member of the family. I know many rock music fans would be able to empathise with me on this issue.

Well, from personal perspectives, as outsiders, most of us even think that rock musicians lead a pretty cool lifestyle. We do envy the way they carry themselves. However, what we see is not necessarily what we should believe. There are many established and budding rock bands that do not have enough financial sources to buy gadgets or musical equipments. But it is really commendable how they struggle to promote their keen interest in the field. They do not mind spending their pocket money or hard earned salary to culture their passion.

Night time is the right time to jam. However, in a state where load shedding is a gripe among the people, most of the rock bands jam with the help of power generators that cost them litres of Kerosene to run. By the way, I must not forget to mention that a litre of Kerosene in Imphal costs more than 100 rupees. So, if a band jams for 3 or 4 hours, they are spending at least 400 or 500 bucks per day just to jam. Besides their financial woes, most of their families do not understand them affected by the same ‘rock touraga kei kaana doino’ mindset. But they are not ready to give up. Their spirit is high. Some of them even self finance their own business not for any profit but to bring a change in the music world.

Dead Mobster, a budding death core metal band in Imphal is second to none when it comes to fighting against all the odds of surviving in the music world. This band composes and plays songs that reflect the issues in the society such as corruption, rape, gun culture etc. A few of their songs such as Killers Don’t Cry, Give me Strength – truly reflect their struggle to survive in the music world. The band members are currently working hard to release their new song 18th -themed on the 18th June massacre. Their number “Walk a little faster” is also a stirring song about HIV people, how they struggle in the society for survival. Hats off to many such bands that reflect our social and political issues through their songs!

I earnestly feel that it is the high time majority of the population understands the taste of rock music in our state. And most importantly those who have a taste of this genre of music should not be misconstrued on any ground. So, next time when a heavy metal fan at your/our very Leikai practices with his drum or guitar, ‘Jingha da noong thaaba toklasi’.

This article was published on 22 April 2012

What If It Was Adam-Teasing, Not Eve-Teasing?

‘Leisabi nasak fajeiko, eiga koinasiro’- It’s just one simplest example of nupi laknaba which is one of the popular chauvinistic trends rampantly practised in our society. It is usually with a funny motive when a group of guys indulge in the act of teasing a particular girl. From a general perspective, eve-teasing is sometimes referred to with a coy sugg-estion of innocent fun, making it appear guiltless with no resulting charge on the part of the perpetrator. With reference to the biblical Eve, the first woman on earth, the act of ‘eve-teasing’ implies that the woman is in some way responsible for the behaviour of the doers of this act. Nevertheless, many would find it just another unwanted creed introduced by a breed of chauvinistic males.

Without relying on any biblical source, we must agree that eve-teasing is an unbridled practice in our society that has been carried on since time immemorial. No wonder ours is a patriarchal society where most of the rules are made and also denounced by the so called chauvinistic males. Relating the universal theory of chauvinism with the practice of nupi laknaba, it is indeed considered cool for a gang of leiping famba guys at our respective localities to pass any kind of funny or rude remark or comment on a girl who coyly passes by at the leirak-khulak or lamjao-sorok. 

My cousins and friends are not even spared from the league of eve-teasers in our very locality. ‘Pakhangna leisabi laknadana kanada laknadoino’ –believe it or not but this is the general mindset among the elders. In my own personal opinion, eve-teasing is not an ill-practice as long as one does not cross the limit and if it is done only with a light motive. Nonetheless, using of indecent language or gesture while eve-teasing should not be encouraged at any cost.

Well, let us suppose and provide a whole new perspective to this very practice. What if it was Adam-teasing, not Eve-teasing? What if girls had to pass the same remarks on boys? What if ours was not a patriarchal society where there isn’t any chauvinistic norm? On a funny approbation, let us imagine all the probable situations if at all teasing the opposite gender were one such art aptly mastered by the fairer sex. Let us for a while suppose that it is Adam-teasing not Eve-teasing. Here are a few probable situations. (Guys kindly go through them with a light heart and do accelerate your humour-metre).

Situation No. 1- A guy is planning to move out of home for any personal or professional reason. He has to really worry about which route or leirak would be the best one to pass by and which lane should be avoided at any cost. ‘Oh damn! That leirak is frequented by Landhoni, Maloti and their group. What if they pass funny remarks about my hairstyle today? Am I looking ok in this dress? I don’t know what exactly is the problem with those girls, every time they see me they never spare a chance to pass on a remark, hingchabi singdo hmmm’- such would be the thought process of that pitiable guy. No comments on it (only a witty smile).

Situation No. 2- Suppose, the very guy has to compulsorily take that route where the same Landhoni, Maloti, Tababi etc make their ‘adda’ and where they are often found engrossed in some ‘serious leipung famba session’. Goosebumps, heartbeats, racing pulses etc. are few symptoms the poor guy would obviously have. Who knows he would even cross his fingers murmuring to himself ‘ngasidi laknabiraktradi fanida, thabak amta chatke thoklakpasida eidi ba beat ka tek ee seita’.

Situation No. 3 - Last but not the least, imagine one such situation in which the wannabe gang of girls do not spare a single chance and pass a rude comment or an abusive remark about the guy (something that’s indecent and really embarrassing). The poor guy doesn’t even have the guts to reply back as he is being dominated by the gang. Like a helpless kitten, he has to walk back home on the verge of crying. He reaches home, runs to his dad and relates what happened near the leikai lampaak and what kind of comments those notorious girls pass on him .His father would equally feel bad but quite helpless of the situation all he could tell his son is ‘Ebungo, next time take the other lane, don’t meddle with those girls. Takuri afaobi waarakpa ngamdrabi ngaaktani, echadi maram mokpani makhoiga maanarunuko’.

Well, I don’t want to visualize any more situations like the above mentions. If I were a guy, I have no idea whether I would be indulging in the act of eve-teasing girls or not. However, I would not mind propounding and professing Adam-teasing had it been a trend. What about you girls?

This article was published in the Sangai Express on 15 April 2012

Of Dark Nights, Generators and Moreh Lamps -- Pages from My Imphal Diary

On that very day I reached home, I was glad my loving family and a few good friends greeted me. Later when the afternoon transcended to evening, my sister informed me that it was a load shedding day, a privilege we enjoy only in Manipur. With an optimistic mood, I thought it was a fabulous excuse of enjoying a lamtaa evening with the thaabal lighting up our shumaang.

Of course I started enjoying one such evening until the sound of generator from one of our neighbours perturbed the serenity of the lovely calm evening that was later surpassed to a noisy night. I yawned and called that a day. Waking up to the chirps of early morning sendraangs or sembraangs has been an aesthetic experience for me every time I visit my hometown. But the first day I woke up, it was already 6 A.M. and quite sadly I wasn’t awakened by the chirpings of those sendraangs or sembaangs. A pestering sound of some machine perturbed my ear drums and on being asked I found out that it was the same generator from the previous night. It was a daily ritual for the family to put on the generator to make up for the energy, probably, that they need during the day. I swore something under my breath but could not make it audible for anyone. I had no choice but to reconcile my logic with my expectations out of the sabbatical. I murmured: ‘Welcome to Manipur where electricity is a luxury only among some sections of the hoi polloi’. 

Most of us consider it a ritual to buy generators (that come at a price range between 5 and 20 thousands INR) and inverters. We would never ponder on why we are deprived of getting regular power supply. We are like running around the problem rather than finding its permanent solution. In my earnest opinion, electricity should be one strong issue for which a wake-up call among the masses is a must. After all, the electricity bill is asked to be paid regularly if not ‘mei kakpa’, hey naa? (Guess whose habitual word it is.) 

Statistics may lie but this sounds interesting. Last week, in a meeting of the State Advisory Committee for Manipur of the Joint Electricity Regulatory Commission for Manipur and Mizoram, it was mentioned that out of a total 20 lakh population in Manipur’s valley districts, there are merely 1.5 lakh consumers. So in a leikai of 100 people, nearly seven to eight people consume electricity and these people never pay their bills on time. The other seventy-odd people either get their own electricity with a little help from the bamboo sticks, which are always available near a transformer. Or they don’t use electricity at all. 

By the way, I can’t understand one thing about the billing system on the consumption of electricity at each and every home. I asked one of the billing guys on what basis the bills are charged and also asked why the pay-per-metre system is not applicable in our state. He thought he was humorous when he replied, ‘Ebemma metre da paradee tha amada lising-gi mathakta adum laakani... akhoina saariba rate si yarabani’. I scratched my head in disbelief, halted the conversation but asked myself, ‘meibu kayaam laakladana akhoina sijinaba fangdoino’. Ridiculous! Right? Well, that’s the truth most of us are used to. Most of the homes in Manipur are charged with an electric bill though they hardly get the electricity. Now isn’t that ironic? Don’t you think? It’s like dark nights when you are paying your bill; and it’s a Moreh lamp when you have the inverter-charged tube lights switched off. (recalling Alanis Morisette’s ‘Ironic’) . Nevertheless, the Moreh lamps are a blessing in disguise for many families in Manipur. 

These lamps are available everywhere at the Kwairambandh Keithel or the International Moreh Market. The price of these Moreh lamps range between 100 and 600 INR and hence easily affordable. One can make the choice as per the budget and carry home any of the lamps with the brightest hope to light up the dark rooms. The Moreh karobaar-waalas have benefited a lot from this Moreh line of work. Every day you will find hundreds of customers swarming up at those tiny shops or roadside spreads of Moreh lamps that are available in many shapes and size and in any colour of your choice. I did get two lamps, one for my sister so that it could be of some help during her tuition hours and one for myself just to flaunt among my friends in Delhi that ‘this is the YO lamp which is damn popular in Manipur these days and guess what it lights up the entire room just like a small tube light’. Of course it would sound really stupid to flaunt about one such lamp in a city where power issue is a siki-anaah problem. Well, well, one of the good stale news is that Manipur may get 20 hours of electric supply soon, very soon. 

The concerned bodies are working hard (really?) on making this project a success (Hope it’s not another successfully failed attempt). 20 hours of electric supply on a single day? Let there be light!

This article was published on 1 Apr 2012
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