The Poinu Diary — Of Cold Evenings and Warm Memories

‘Hawai uri mapaan’ mightily blossoms amid the frigid chill and the icy grip of Poinu. Drenched in the ingtham ullen, Hungaam also offers its authentic flavour by this time of the year. Manipur Masala today presents The Poinu Diary—Of cold evenings and warm memories.

Poinu marks the main harvest season in Manipur. Blessed by Phou-Oibi, sacks of rice are delivered at our homes by the village folks who have toiled the entire year for a bountiful harvest.

Cold Poinu evenings are fondled by warm memories of good old childhood days. Sacks of rice laden bullock carts used to be quite a sight during those days. As kids, we had mischievously wanted to hop on those dragging carts and enjoy the ride down the street. The sight of the flickering lantern lit up on the san-gaari and the accompanying sound of sanarik still rings the memory bells.

Along came charoo with those huge sacks. Evenings were never the same for us. Una-waana, utek-waatek were collected to lit up a bonfire. As we enjoyed the evening bonfire after a full-fledged day playing games, we were never exhausted to learn the art of kabok pokpa out of those bundles of charoo.

The pre-dinner funga waari narrating session by our beloved abok or edhou made us super happy. Ah! Those were the days indeed.

Things are completely different in today’s Manipur. And as the evening transcends, life comes to a standstill here. It is not a surprising discovery that modern homes now have a temporary funga. Induction cookers, ovens, grillers, toasters etc. have adorned most of the kitchens nowadays. All thanks to technology, life has become much easier like never before in modern Manipur. The only recipe that is missing in modern Manipur’s menu, in this context, is a proper night life for our folks.

Night life is but a luxury that cannot be afforded by anyone here. Technology which has favoured our lives in many ways cannot even cure an ounce of fear that most of us have. Yes, it is but an open secret to all of us that fear comes along with darkness. I am completely numb to describe the nature of this fear. It does not mean I cannot cite down a number of reasons that have tinctured an incurable fear on our mind.

Earlier, when we were kids, the nature of fear was different. The fear of Churan-Thaaba was perhaps the only of its kind then. Elders used to scare us that Churaan-Thaaba would come carrying a big borakhao to pick up kids and would slice them into pieces and gorge on as their food. The irony is, such a thing never ever happened. As we grow up, the fear of that fabled Churan-Thaaba ultimately became mami-sami while we started encountering the real ones. In modern Manipur, there are different types of Churan-Thaaba — some are uniformed and some are not.

Defining the nature of a modern Churan-Thaaba is not a tough task in modern Manipur. Even a pre-nursery kid would easily sing a rhyme about him.

We at least, share a loving memory of that fabled Churan-Thaaba whose fear gripped us during our childhood days. The sight of a modern Churan-Thaaba not only makes us scared but nauseated too. And the saddest part is there are too many of them almost everywhere.

By the way, kumsi’s Poinu has been quite a quiet month as compared to last year’s. I wish Waakching, Phairen and Lamtaa also pass on in the same manner. As we fondle warm memories of cold Poinu evenings, let us also pray for the wellbeing of all the Churan-Thaaba. May they get well soon. May our state become at least a leiheiba lamdam!

This article was published on 22 Dec 2013

Of Imphal and Its Matam Matamgi Waafam

Imphal town has now two Shamumakhongs to flaunt—the one at Khwairamband Keithel and the recently built piece at the Bheigyachandra Open Air Theatre complex. Meanwhile, my own leikai has two community halls to flaunt too.

Manipur Masala presents the Imphal town and its matam matamgi waafam—a brief take on some irredeemable norms, some overtly visible, some covert, at various localities across the city.

The other day, out of curiosity, I asked a nephew, ‘Nang swa saaanaba heibra’. He replied, ‘Swa haisibu keino nene’.

I had to explain the rules and regulations of playing swa. I did share my experience of playing the game when we were kids. He was impressive with my explanation; it was obvious from how he was listening. He continued, ‘Nene swa si computer dei download touraga saanaba yagadro?’

I was quite amused by his innocent question but I was equally disturbed. I could not help greet myself — welcome to modern Manipur — where the kids no more play at the leikaigi lampak. Imphal Talkies’ Lullaby started humming as the background music on my mind and I sang along: ‘Te te tenawa kangleipaaki tenewa angaangna moonlaga tenwaana haraowi, uuuu... Una saaba nongmeini mana pangba makhoini’.

During our angaang oiringei days, we used to play all sorts of local games such as swa, u-paibi, amangbi, langri-taang and so on. Most of the kids in Imphal do not play these games anymore. What could be the reason for their indifference towards the local games?

Is it the rising trend of constructing community halls in each and every leikai which do not spare the leikaigi lampak where kids can play? Is it the fear psychosis on parents’ minds that their kids may be kidnapped while playing at a lampak, which eventually forbid their children from playing at the lampak? Is it the new-age syndrome of hainingai leitana chaokhatlaba Manipur? Obviously, the questions are varied though we have the same answer: ‘Khangde tourisey’.

Everybody can get the feel for the rising trend of using mobile phones and computers aka internet in our society. For instance, from school-going kids to keithel-fambi eney endol and aboks, having a mobile phone is a must these days. However, when it comes to the construction of more than two community halls in a single leikai, I have my own indigestive opinion. Of course, having a community hall in a locality is a must and it offers many benefits to many families in a leikai.

In a state like ours where thoudok-waathok and ushop-mela are frequently observed throughout the year, a community hall serves multiple benefits especially to those who do not have a proper shumaang. Also with the rising cost of Maantop khanba, community halls are an affordable option for many. However, having a single community hall in a leikai is enough. There is no logic behind constructing two community halls in a single leikai. Maybe the contractors have different opinions but nothing is certain these days.

Well, I have observed another trend in which one has to destroy something to build something else. A sign of modernity? Such is the case of sambhals being replaced by chekpals. Earlier, when we were kids, a sambhal was created just to fence an ingkhol from shaa-sun. In modern Manipur, especially in and around Imphal, sambhals are becoming cousins of the dinosaurs; meanwhile the chekpals are getting taller and taller each day. Besides the ingkhol khopchinbagi khatnaba and mindless nungsinadaba nature in the keirol-leikai, constructing a wall also means securing one’s family from miscreants (read extortionists whose population keep rising at an alarming rate).

As the walls get thickened with leikhom-leinaang over the years, memories of good old childhood days are also eventually fading away. We had our days of singju suraga chanaba, nungthilda chara waanminaba and leikai koinaba. Meanwhile for modern kids, computer games and cartoon characters are building a Random Access Memory on their mind.

I am not surprised by the very fact that most of my nephews and nieces do not have any idea about the local games we used to play as kids. At times, I wonder if I should start taking free tuition for kids to tincture innocent memories on their minds about their childhood days. Would not it be something innovative, eh?

This article was published on 8 Dec 2013

Of Sangai Fever and Dilemmas So Wild

Manipur Masala has some spicy matam-matamgi news and views to share with all the readers. This is a special collection for you.

sA packet of santhi at present costs ten rupees, as the tok-nga effect, many households have stocks of thoom packet that would last for at least a year or so, and most interestingly, if you park your vehicle for more than two hours at a particular site, more so in the zero mile, the bomb squad may come to your rescue to lend you a helping hand and to give it a kick-start. That’s how low our life has plunged into.

The mess has got company. The All Manipur Thou Leitraba Association (AMTLA), Wangkhei Konung Mamang branch, has come to this resolution that November should be observed as Wangkhei Konung Mamang Sorok Semgat Saagatpa Tha for the obvious reasons.

As regards to the main venue of the Sangai Festival—the construction, renovation and decoration works for the Wangkhei Konung Mamang had been on full swing, right from the beginning of the month. The toukhaiba, leibaak and noong thaaba and koilaash thaaba have become a major part of the pre-preparation of the festival in the vicinity of the venue.

The festival kicked off the other day, with great pomp and show, and will continue for the rest of the month. However, the preparation has left some open questions.

How many times must a thikadaar construct a road before it is finally constructed? Will it continue in the future too? Do our government departments have a deep pocket for maintaining the road every year? And yes, if there is a need for lambi semgat saagatpa in and around the vicinity of the main venue of the festival, why not so in other places, elsewhere in the city/state? If the Sangai Festival is the carnival of Manipur, the whole state should also wear a renovated look. Why just a few areas? The time has truly stopped when Manipur indulges in a fake orgy.

The route that stretches from Kangla and Sanjenthong to Hapta Kangjeibung has been adorned like a bride in full glittering costume. The other day, while passing through the stretch, I had this feeling ‘Eh Delhidum maaliney swaisidi’. I had an oxymoronic wish that our entire state should also wear a uniform look like that. Is this too much to ask from the government?

Luckily for Wangkheilites, the festival is a blessing in disguise. We have been enjoying uninterrupted power supply. Most of us are not used to such a facility. It seems a little teina-onaba routine when we can switch on our television sets or charge our mobile phones anytime during the day. We are so pampered by this festival. Usually, it was all different. We had to charge our phone with this trepidation on our mind that the mei will muut anytime.

Mei laaklingeida chaak thongdokba has been the catchword in many leirak and leikai. Many families would prepare their dinner during daytime. All thanks to the Sangai Festival, many families at least in Wangkhei, have redefined the experience of preparing dinner in time and relishing it in the fong fong saaba way. What a luxury in this new millennium! But then, for many leikais, the dark nights still rule. What seems like a blessing in disguise for some is a dark curse for many.

There is a saying that behind every successful man, there is a woman. Well, in a localised version—behind every luxury of uninterrupted power supply, we have more localities lost in the darkness. Back in the Nineties, it was either due to lack of or abundance of water at the hydroelectric project. Now the electricity department has a thousand reasons of darkness.

The situation is pathetic especially for the school kids as this is the time of the year for annual final exams. All the families cannot afford an inverter or a generator. Regular power supply should be provided so that there is no hindrance; after all, it is a matter of the future of the children. I know most of our children are used to studying under the made-in-Thailand Moreh lamps, I just wish they had a better option.

Well, the festival flaunts the rich culture and tradition of Manipur on one hand. While on the other, it shames us with the naked truth of how we are experts in ‘mawong maalhanba heiba’. They light up some specific areas in the city to feast the eyes of foreign tourists while the overall backdrop of the city remains darker than ever before. Beauty is, we know, just skin deep. Whatsoever, I am allergic to such a khadrak as long as the colour of my conscience does not turn grey.

Can we expect better road facilities across the city by the next Sangai Festival? Can we expect better power supply? Can we have an ultimate cure from the prevailing fear psychosis? I know not who will provide a positive reply for my questions. As always, amambada wai sitchari ei, just to avoid the allergic sight of ufool waifool. For more news, please do read the newspapers.

This article was published on 24 Nov 2013

The Hiyangei Diary — A Reconciliation!

Like a haiba inbi daughter of my palem, I packed my bags and took a flight back home from Delhi, relieving myself from the hectic schedules of big city life. There is no comparison to the feeling of relocating back at home, mingling among my folks and sharing a relaxed smile with them.

I love waking up listening to the chirps of uchek-waya here rather than pricking my ears to the kabari waala or sabji waala yakairol back in Delhi. Paneer masala or chicken kadhai does not score a yummier mark than mom’s kaangsoi or eronba. A chance meeting with an old friend and the accompanying chit-chats make my day. Walking beneath the starlit night of hiyangei sky, the never ending heegatpa session with siblings and cousins, the smell of insaang ahaoba from one of the leikaigi chakhum and the accompanying ‘chaak laambagi’ expression on our faces not to forget mom’s culinary skill that has now been upgraded to bubok’s-Ah! It’s indeed good to be at home. I want to cherish this feeling forever provided I have enough courage to ignore or endure hypocrisy, mindlessness and the laid-back attitude that are most often observed among our folks.

Well, I must not forget to mention about the yumfam yaodaba rumours that have become a favourite nga-mok for us. We generally love relishing any tok-nga with utter delicacy (as if it’s some scrumptious achapot). The latest one being the thoom fangdabagi tok-nga.

A busy afternoon for all of us, the wedding preparation for my cousin was in full swing on that day. Amid the nupamayumgi thouraang and hobey-hobey chenaba hours, I overheard some leikaigi eney-endol worriedly telling each other about one of the (apparently) paakhatningai oiba situations they ever have to face i.e. unavailability of salt. Quite a khayaaknaba experience for many, it eventually turned out to be a rumour but the series of thoom-thiba missions that happened during the day were beyond my thajabagi waangmada.

Panicked by the possible shortage of thoom, the most important ingredient of every chakhum, there was a frantic search for thoom packet everywhere across the city. ‘Packet ta lupa chaama youhoure hai, Mani dukandadi packet amtabu yaohoudre hai kamai touni tourisidi’. I overheard all these real-time dialogues among my folks and wanted to believe them as some funny dialogues from a Manipuri movie but I could not any more. The salty rumour kept on spreading like a wildfire. The rich and the poor were flaunting their purchasing ability of thoom khwaidei yaamna leisinba.

Meanwhile, it was a lucrative business opportunity for all those dukandaars who earlier stocked up sacks of salt packets of all brands. A packet of salt worth just seven bucks was sold at the price of hundred. And the funniest (read stupid) part was that people in deed bought thoom packets at a skyrocketing price sans any negotiation. I badly wanted to scream at the height of stupidity of our folks. Yet, I simultaneously felt sorry for their paakhatchaoba nature when it comes to the prospect of scarcity of any consumer item- be it thoom, cooking gas or petrol.

‘Oh Hello? This is Manipur. Just keep calm if you want to stay back here’- the interior monologue in my mind ultimately helped me pacify. Perhaps, reconciliation is the one and only solution. After all I made my own decision to come back here. Bomb blast, general strikes, yumfam yaodaba tok-nga or the ufool-waifool at the lambi sorok are just some oh-so-Manipur factors. We shall overcome them someday. Oh deep in my heart I do believe, we shall overcome someday (perhaps on 32nd December).

This article was published on 17 Nov 2013

An Anti-Stereotypical Thought Singju!

We worship Goddess Panthoibi piously for two weeks in the month of Mera and for the rest of the year we are ready to consider our womenfolk are like the do-they-even-exist types. Manipur Masala presents an anti-stereotypical thought singju to unravel a few funny cases of stereotyping, which are intricately fabricated and juggled in our society for all these years.

Behind the masquerade of patriarchy, stereotyping is observed as quite an ethical norm in our society. To cite the simplest example, we generally observe that a guy who occasionally cooks or indulges in a bit of household chores for his family is categorised under the section of ‘maram mokpa’ or ‘gyaan taaba type’. He becomes an adorable person in the keiroleikai. If that guy happens to be a Pakhang, a list of leisabis would go ga-ga after him.

Alright, I do admire the type of maram-mokpa Pakhang or any nupa who lends a helping hand in the domestic chores of the family. But given a thought on it, it smells to me, a syndrome of hard-core stereotype.

In our society, the female lots in every family are occupied in a hell lot of household chores on a daily basis. There is hardly any admiration for a particular girl who runs her family catering to all the needs of the members of her family.

There is a sole consolation that a girl receives from her relatives or keiroleikai: ‘Echagi maram khumoksidi hayengwai mouga oiradi manem makuna yam paamdoipotni’. This insinuates how a girl is born to look after a family for her entire life—regardless of mapaam or nupa mayum.

A leisabi, before tying the nuptial knot, is expected to learn all the emungi kupnom besides mastering the art of cooking niche insaangs such as chagem pomba, ooti thongba, sareng thongba etc. Leisabihood days are synonymous to pre-marriage training time during which a girl has to attain perfection in every single household work. When it comes to work, the list is endless: wai teiba, chaak thongba, fee suba, emung loisinba (rolling my eyes) and what not.

Imagine the roles were reversed. Imagine a Pakhang doing all these household activities on a daily basis just to become eligible as an ideal Yumgi Nupa after his marriage. I would not mind hosting an event in pursuit of the most maram mokpa nupa of the year simultaneously showering him with gifts and blessings. There would even be benedictions such as ‘afaba nupi fangjaro’.

Well, the ground reality is not so fascinating. Our society has so many funny hocus-pocuses about culturing the norm of stereotyping. We have tinctured many stereotyped beliefs on our mind. All of us are accustomed to the beliefs of shumaang matonda fanek fouba touheide; except u-rok sumjeet, guys are forbidden to touch the broom and the most interesting one: nupana eru ludana chaak thongbadi yai, nupinadi yaade.

I do not have the slightest intention of waging a gender war. But I honestly believe it’s high time that we change our mindsets on sexuality. So, in my Utopian Sanaleibaak, guys should cook on a daily basis; they should equally look after their homes like their better halves; and they should not mind if there is a Fanek hanging at the Polaangkhok right at the Shumang maton. Rather, mind the mess that is synonymous to Manipur today.

Until and unless we change our mindset, there is hardly any use of yelling at the streets or hammering the keyboards to speak out against injustice or crime against women that are continuously committed in our society.

‘Attempting to get at truth,’ to quote the acclaimed English journalist, Harold Evans, ‘means rejecting stereotypes and clichés’.

Can we attempt to come upon the truth? At least, try...?

Come on, it won’t be anything like rocket science. Let’s just do it. Let’s say ‘Goodbye to stereotyping’ and say ‘Hello to a free society’ where all the Leisha-Pakhang are categorised as Maram Mokpi/Mokpa and the ahal-laman enjoy themselves as audiences of ideal romantic nuances.

The world’s truly a stage. And I bet it will be a hit with equal improvisations from the two sexes, rather than just one. In so doing, I bet again that we will find more essence in singing paeans for Panthoibi Lairembi. The rest will follow automatically.

This article was published on 13 Oct 2013

Tradition: A Go-Getter Champ in the Manipur Syllabus!

Tradition is a guide and not a jailer.
- W. Somerset Maugham

Mr. Langban has bidden adieu for the year passing on the duties to the Ministress of Seasonal Affairs – Mera Tha.

A pleasant season, the return of hungaam and yongchaak in the chakhum and of course the festivals that queue up for their turn one after another, mark the advent of Mera. Fatso Langban relished all the tarpon feasts and offerings that we prepared for the departed souls of our ahal laman and saagei-naatei. He needs at least a year to digest everything that he had gorged on during his stay. The last time I saw him, he was buying Enzyme and lots of Hajmola sachets.

Meanwhile, Mera Ministress cannot wait to flaunt herself. She has impeccably donned herself with the Fall-Winter collection from some wannabe designers. Cajoled by her elegance, she gracefully makes her seasonal entry imbued with the right hues.

As bamboola sounds mingle in the festive air, the young and the old are bracing up for the coming days in high spirits. I pressed F5 on my mind for a few memories of festivals that we ardently enjoyed during our childhood days. One of the reloaded memories is that of the Durga Puja festival. Five days of fun and frolicking, lots of bamboola to crack and lots of esei-leela to indulge in. Puja vacations had always been a second Yaoshang coming for us. The festival is still celebrated with great pomp and show at present (especially in my leikai).

Beat Yaoshang or Durga Puja, we love celebrating every festival with great pomp and show. The only difference I have personally observed over the years is how we now celebrate a festival. The same old excitement or jovial spirit seems faded. Perhaps, it’s the years playing tricks with us or it’s the continuous mayhems that have stuffed our attention around the whole year.

Well, I suppose we need a break from the depression throughout the year. Which is why, the major festivals – Duga Puja, Diwali, Ningol Chakouba, Christmas to name a few – mark the ending of every year.

However, from the murky side, it seems nothing changes in our state except the dates and the festivals that mark their annual return. It’s the same old ugly brouhaha, the primitive laid-back attitude of our people, the sycophancy of the system and the list goes on.

Wait, wait. We have seen a few additions in the syllabus over the last few years. In the last couple of years, reports of rapes and molestations plus cases of missing housewives have added a few more. Once these used to be nauseating news from the metropolis, but not anymore.

In the midst, I am at least glad that we still nurture the tradition of celebrating festivals.

Possibly, it’s time we admit that it is only tradition that always scores letter mark in the Manipur Syllabus. It is something that revives us from depression and restlessness that engulf us the whole year.

Tradition inculcates belongingness in our heart to the blood soaked land we call our home. It still makes us yearn to go back and mingle up again with our forlorn friends, brothers and sisters. It provides us an original identity of our own that the rest of the world would not even care.

Que sera sera, we should be glad that the guns and bombs cannot destroy the tradition that we have been religiously following all these decades. Tradition is a go-getter champ in the Manipur Syllabus. Let’s hope it scores a Gold Medal someday provided time and technology do not play a trick with it.

Long live tradition. Happy festivals, everyone!

This article was published on 6 Oct 2013

The Big Bandh Theory

All the dictionaries provide a similar meaning for a general strike. Generally, it is an opposition in which workers in a particular industry or country stop working in order to force their employers to offer them better conditions or higher pay.

It is a different cup of cha-ngaang when we consider general strike or bandh in our state. We have defied history; when it comes to redefining our own concept of bandh or general strike.

In full support of all the logical and illogical general strikes often imposed across the state, Manipur Masala today presents the Big Bandh Theory in Manipur.

Well, seeing the frequency of bandhs in our state, it is the high time to have a registered body that will cater to all the concerns of bandh mongers. I would, first of all, recommend a customer care centre. Anyone with any reason to call a general strike can fetch his/her concern to the CCC. It should not matter if the reason is logical or otherwise.

Well, a few criterions for calling a bandh are enlisted below:

  • If any Hongba, Chaoba or Tomba runs a poultry business and is facing some financial crunch, he has the full-fledged authority to call a bandh across the state.
  • If any kwa-zarda aficionado Enebemma or Echebemma from any leikai finds out that the quality of their zarda is being compromised, she has every damn right to call a bandh against the so-called pan dukan owner.
  • If someone else’ nganu lays its egg at your ingkhol, you can consume the same eggs. If the nganu owner asks about his nganu maroom, you have the right to call a bandh.
  • This one is for all the parents. If your son or daughter scores less mark in their annual school peikha, you must seek any type of possible help from All Manipur Bandh Koujaningba Party to act against the school authority.
  • Finally, the unavailability of mobile network can also be accounted as one valid reason for calling a bandh.
Still, our first priority is to form an autonomous body that will take care of all the concerns related to any type of bandh. So we should conduct a free yet unfair selection of the core members of the body. Candidates with a minimum experience of calling four to five bandhs so far can apply for the posts.

A theory and practical test will be conducted under the guidance of senior bandh mongers who have expertise in the field. For the theory test, all the candidates should write an essay on topics such as secret tips, tricks and tactics to make a bandh a super hit. For the practical test, all the candidates will be allotted a time period of one week within which they are supposed to call a successful bandh in their localities (not necessarily across the state).

In a few years, we can expect to include ‘The Big Bandh Theory in Manipur’ in the syllabus of political science, ethically approved by the board of education and university.

It is therefore the duty of each and every Manipuri to promote this theory across the state. We do not need any special measure to empower this theory. All we need to do is to switch off the sanity metre and plug on the gleaming moronic switch. It should not be a hard task for us since we are already addicted to a dumbfounded slumber for all these decades. And as long as there are enough yen-nganu for chaak chanaba, may more bandhs be called.

Three rounds of chaisen cheers to bandh mongers!

This article was published on 15 Sep 2013 

Donkey Monkey Swa - A Redefined Version!

Remember the game Donkey Monkey Swa that we used to play when we were kids? I bet it used to be one of the favourite games we ever played during those good old days. These days, we hardly find the children playing local games at the leikai lampaak and elsewhere.

However, this game, Donkey Monkey Swa, seems to have been redefined a little bit and has been reportedly playing within the realm of power paiba and power chalaiba kaangbu in our society.

In its earlier days, the game began in quite an amateur way. The fam-achouba paiba babu sahebs cracked the idea of redefining the game. Honourable Mr. Gorobi gave his full support and launched the game with the slogan ‘I want this much commission’. And as per the game, it’s but a strict rule to give Gorobi the claimed commission by hook or by crook.

The spirit of the game spread like wildfire from one department to another. Of late, most of our (echin enao kaina kouningdaba) security personnel have also become fond of this game. So, when they say ‘We want an Activa Honda’, they try to have it by any means. Even if that means they have to steal it illegally, of course with the help of a legal authority, consider they already have it.

Under a normal situation, security personnel are supposed to maintain law and order in our society. They are also supposed to protect us from thieves and criminals. Their presence around us should make us feel safe and secure.

However, it is a different glass of chaangang in our society when it comes to our security. They scare us like hell. We don’t want to have them around us because of many reasons more than one. Besides shameless acts like ekai-khangdana sen chaaba, waarak waatemdaba nature like ahal-laman khangdana khonda waoba, they have won another accolade – ‘Gaari huranbagi heinabi’. Beraney!

In a normal society, when we lose something we take help of the police to report the matter. But imagine the situation when we have to report about theft to the thieves. That would be like a ‘dassa nihey’ situation.

Wait, wait. The game does not end yet. We must not forget to mention one of the eligible candidates of this interesting game – the black marketers a.k.a. meeyamgi ee chupaga sen taaba kaangbu. Whenever there is a natural disaster or an economical chaos, they are the ones who earnestly play and benefit from the game. All they need to say is ‘We want price hike’ and the game automatically begins.

In every two or three months, petrol runs out of stock in our state (though the official reports always say they have enough stocks to meet the public demand). For many of us, it has become a habit to buy cooking gas cylinders only from the black market. Either we are too rich to afford anything that black marketers charge us or we are dumbstruck morons unaware of our action.

Every week and month, we need to have bandhs or general strikes that disrupt our normal lives. Standing for long queues for petrol has become a habit among our people.

Amid all these, the government who robs Tomba to pay Chaoba ardently enjoys playing Donkey Monkey Swa. So do our security personnel who misuse their power to make the society more ‘farangjai’.

We, the confused hoi polloi, prefer to play keku-lotpi with no courage for dhampa fongba. We are so used to bear the brunt of bandh/general strikes, petrol price hike and adu-ada price hike while the players keep on playing as much as they are enjoying the game.

Perhaps, leading a normal life has become something like rocket science in our state. Perhaps, the pursuit of at least a liveable society is going to be a long tiring journey. We must dare to remain optimistic. We must also remain as the mute spectators of the ongoing game- ‘Donkey Monkey Swa’.

This article was published on 1 Sep 2013

A Tale of Two Melodramas of the Season

All the Sajibu, Kaalen, Inga and Ingen have their unique flavours. We create seasonal memories with specific occasions and stuffs that make the days special, or at least, memorable. I have come up with a different recipe for Manipur Masala, so that it adds a new tang to the ongoing seasonal melodramas (if I may call it so).

We have two dramas this season: first, the battery of bombs that are ready to explode anytime/anywhere in our state. The second performance is a sensitive national issue—the onion drama.

Who says the government cannot collapse because of tilhou? Food inflation can prove politically disastrous ahead of the next general election, scheduled next year. So, it will be unsurprising if the major political parties are harping on tilhou to make a point or two, inside and outside the talking shop of the Indian democracy.

Now let us see the happenings closer home, yet on the other side of India. I am not sure about the price of the cheap bombs that are available across the state but when it comes to Onion, it’s Rs 80 per kg.

The price is as apt as the thika commission for our babu sahebs. Unlike the spirit of the Manipuris, most of the stingy Delhites have almost decided to stop consuming tilhou entirely. Rupees 80 is such a big concern for the Delhites. The living standard and earning might be higher here in the capital but when it comes to generosity, no one can ever beat the Manipuris. And that’s something we should always be proud of.

The melodrama of tilhou is expected to continue for quite a few days. Meanwhile, the melodrama of bombs will perhaps continue for a few more months or even years depending on the shortage of sanity as far as our state and our folks are concerned. I must not forget to mention that the tilhou issue is not much of a shocking news for us. The recent years have been a sole witness how we, the Manipuris, do not mind even spending more than Rs 1,000 for a cylinder. Then, the petrol and diesel issue—all of us know they are available all the time; we just have to pay more!

According to a secret source of naap-chadaba pao, it has been reported that the recent bomb blasts are more of a reminder to the rest of the nation that this onion price inflation is nothing as compared to the daily inflation of human lives that continue in our state. As usual, our P.M Ji’s reaction to this information was ‘mute’. He has, however, shared his concern over the sarkaar kainam-namba tilhou price issue.

A few sources from Manipur have also reported that Nakuppi and Napaakpi-chaar will be sent in bulk to Bihar and Haryana by the end of this year. This is to prevent government-collapsing tilhou inflation in the coming future. Considering it as one opportunity of Kangleipakisation, our Ingkhol Minister has wished all the Nakuppi and Napaakpi karobaar people all the best for this venture.

Meanwhile, the secretary of ‘Ema Leibaakidamak Sen Niduna Lemjaa Chagani’ party, Mr. Thouleitaba has expressed his concerns through as-to-be-printed press release: “Among the many ‘isms’ we numbly follow in our society, one such remarkable ‘ism’ is Heinabism. We are so obsessed with this habit that we cannot give it up at any cost, which is in fact, a matter of pride for many of us. Coupled with Katan-ism, it’s a long way to go for us. Therefore, I cannot concur the idea of exporting nakuppi or napaakpi chaar to other Indian states. This is not a brilliant idea at all.’

Reality for us is like a chewing gum; we love chewing it but would never ever swallow it because it is indigestive. The consequence would be a little odd. Hence, the thou-waaa saabidaba praja-meeyam of our society are still reluctant to face it. They still purchase petrol at a double price and still do not mind spending lupa marfoo for a kilo of tilhou.

This article was published on 18 April 2013

An Obituary: Abok

Once, a long, long time ago in Imphal, my Abok had her tiny potfham, right beside the Shamu Makhong. It used to be a major landmark in the entire Khwairambandh Keithel, but not anymore.

Those potfhams were demolished to build a flyover and a new Ema Keithel. But to me it seems to have vandalized a memory land, forever and ever. The Keithel has so far changed its look and nature, pacing up with the matamgi echel. Though it wears a modern look, it lacks its quintessential feature. Perhaps, it is a personal observation because I see no more, my Abok’s potfham in that spot.

Last week when I was home to visit my Abok, I passed by Thong Nambonbi. For a while, I visualised the old scene of the then keithel but alas that was a surreal chimera. My Abok was no more around, nor was her potfham. She was then battling for her life in some smelly ward at a hospital.

My Abok led an ordinary life. Abandoned by her husband at an early age, she brought up her children single-handedly. She used to sell mangan-chana and heingaan ladoo at the keithel. She was just another ‘face’ among those struggling potfham fambi abok, ema and eney-endol in those days. But when it comes to all the good memories she had gifted us, she was more of a generous queen.

They say a grandmother is a buffer zone between parents and reality. But to me, my Abok had been more than a buffer zone. She used to be an angel in disguise for me and my siblings/cousins. She gifted us some of the most memorable moments when we were kids, simultaneously spoiling us all with oodles of ngamok and pocket money.

I spent a major slice of my childhood days at her place. Throughout her life, she had given away everything she had – sometimes for her children and other times, for her grandchildren. I can’t help wondering what had we gifted her back. A once or twice visit in a few months or a name-sake phone call asking about her wellbeing and that’s it.

All her life, she had been there showering us with all her love and affection. But in return, we gave her ‘nothing in specific’ and that eventually makes us realise our own selfishness.

Whether we admit it or not, we know that most of us are so engrossed in our own world that often we tend to forget our elders. Meanwhile, they get older and weaker. They would still not complain and that makes us more self-obsessed.

Like the ‘thao yaodaba keithelgi thaomei’, Abok’s life had extinguished forever a few days back. She is no more but has left behind all the good memories for all of us. Meanwhile, I am suffocated with a guilty feeling of abandoning her for all those years when she might have needed us.

I pity myself that this column is all that I can gift her back especially when she is no more around. She would not even bother to know about it had she been still alive. I should have spent some more time with her. I should have visited her more often in all these years.

Abok’s demise has made me learn another difficult lesson about life. This time, I will seriously stop wearing a ‘selfish badge’. Human’s never ending quest will never ever end. If we steal some moments away from life’s hustle-bustles for our loved ones, we will regret less in our future.

Well, if there is life after death, if one can pass on messages to human souls, I would leave no stone unturned to thank my beloved Abok for everything.

Soul messengers, if there is any, please convey my heartiest thanks for all the hardships she had to bear while bringing up my mom, emashi and mamoh on her own. Please thank her for all the achapot she used to buy for us, please thank her for all the chakoubagi dakhnia. And please thank her for being the best ever Abok I have ever known in my life. She will live in our memory forever. Please do convey her that I wish to have her as my Abok in each and every life time.

May her soul rest in peace forever.

This article was published on 4 Aug 2013

The Hypocrisy of Patriarchy

History relates us to many facts and figures about our origin. One thing that we have commonly observed is an entangled nature of patriarchy in our society. And as per the so called patriarchal rules, every man has the privilege of ‘khongbaan-chonglaga-kokpa’ excuses, no matter the number of times he is caught indulging in any type of immoral deed and perverted act.

However, there is hardly any such thing as an excuse, for the fair sex. She bears, and is regularly compelled to face, the brunt of ‘minok michei’ in the society, if she is ever found in locally defined uncompromising positions and situations.

To cite a simple example, when a married guy indulges in an extra marital affair, it is termed as ngaosinaba: nothing can be more innocent than this word. However, for a married woman, there are hundreds of jargons especially coined for her – a couple of them includes ‘lamchat naidabi’ and ‘oktabi’. And for your kind information, there is no intention for eulogising the women who have such big hearts to afford having/longing for multiple partners.

Adultery has a long history, as old as the man’s desire to dominate over other animals and species. Back in those days, I had heard many interesting stories from my elders. I cannot help but put a question mark over the chatna-pathap that we have created and followed over the years. The royal stories were the most attention grabbing: simply what a man does is ok but what a woman does, is not.

Stringent patriarchal norms were followed in those days. Even in the name of saadaanba chatpa or langfei chatpa, someone from the royal family had all the goddamn right under the sun to forcibly possess whosoever maiden his eyes feasted on. It was so common that there’s a particular phrase that sums up such kind of astonishing act and the phrase is ‘taaloi singda chanba’.

How the heck could anyone use force to possess someone against her will? Punsileipun semba should be more of consent between the would-be bride and the groom. How were such disgusting practices given a legitimate license in those days? In which suroong did our moral police hide during those days?

If we logically analyse, patriarchy and its related hypocrisies directly or indirectly account to some of the women-centric crimes that are incessantly going on in our society at present. I have randomly heard guys talking to one another ‘nupidi furaga thamgadouni’.

I cannot blame any specific Hongba, Chaoba or Tomba to culture that kind of mentality. Perhaps it is because, we have, for all these years, generously given them the license to treat us in any way they prefer to. We have become so used to their dominance over us.

It is a matter of great concern, rather an alarming factor, to helplessly succumb ourselves to the kusirashi nature of our male lots. Chauvinism is considered a legitimate practise in our society. A chauvinistic guy is applauded by his friends as ‘nupa thokpa’ while there are many terms for an anti-chauvinistic guy.

We know that a society that belittles the role of the women folk will never ever prosper. We do know that a society, where cultured crime against women is considered just another cup of daily chaangang, will take time to reform even a tiny bit. But, most of our guys are still not ready to join an anti-chauvinism rehab centre.

Unemployment and insurgency are not the only two problems that we have to deal with. A society sans gender inequality should also be a common vision among us and that is because it is one of the means to fight other stigmas.

Women do not need to beg for respect or love from men. Women are not supposed to subject to domestic violence, rapes or murders. It’s time we try to make sure men are refrained from making or allowed the room to make khongbaan-chonglaga-kokpa excuses. It’s time to end the hypocrisy of patriarchy. We have already had more than we can tolerate.

This article was published on 7 July 2013

Goodbye to the Man's World!

Is it really a curse to be a woman in today’s world?

The endless number of shameless, ceaseless incidents of rapes, molestations and other domestic violence related cases shake off our sanity almost every day. What is further shocking is that the perverts have not even spared elderly women. Raping a 60-year-old lady — come on, that’s the height of barbarism.

Only a few of them are reported, while hundreds of similar cases vanish into oblivion, but not necessarily with the scar those incidents left in our society. Who knows every single minute a crime might be committed. We do not have a crime-tracing machine. The fact is we can never have one such machine in the future too. Simply because, we are still only an animal, slightly better than those animals in the wild forests.

As far as our reaction to any crime is concerned, we share our grief — over the bereaved’s condition as well as protest, remarkably for a few days at the lambi-sorok-lamjao. Then, after a few weeks, with our trademark collective memory we will forget almost every thing. We would possibly add one more story to our history, though we never learn from it. Long live the short-lived memory of the public!

After all, we do what we always do: mawong maalhanbagi eraang saagatpa. Sometimes, we have nothing better to do in life but kill each other. On other occasions, we would let more people come from every corner of the world and kill us.

The impotent nature of our system makes it more difficult for the families of the victims to follow up any concerned department to seek justice.

The issue of justice is in itself nauseating. Justice is like a moronic creature that is allergic to truth. It’s not only difficult but impossible to seek justice. And for the record, its reach is beyond anyone’s imagination. From underground to over ground, justice has bribed every one.

So, despite knowing what, how and where things have gone wrong, we never ever give a damn. In such conditions, being the other half is like making a useless sacrifice.

In our society, there are many who are in the pursuit of truth, liberty, justice and what not. However, there are only a few of them who stand by their principle and integrity. The majority always wins the vote in a lousy democratic nation or state. Hence, those with the right voice are always hindered from speaking out.

Meanwhile the pseudo revolutionary activists and whosoever stay in the limelight and are obviously considered the ‘Voice of the hoi polloi’ by the wakhal-thoktraba meeyaam.

It is the high time we refrain from the playing only the role of mute spectators. We have to raise our voice against these intolerable acts that are happening at every nook and corner of our society. It’s time to rise and raise our voice. We are not supposed to live with a triggered fear on our mind every single day.

We should welcome positive suggestions from all the sensible, hypocrite-proof citizens of our society. Let us stop amusing rapists, hypocrites and killers. They never had and they should not have a place in our society.

And to all the women, stop feeding the pride and arrogance of the male lots which encourage them to belittle and consider you as inferiors and later mal-treat you.

‘Courage is like muscle,” Ruth Gordon puts it succinctly, “We strengthen it with use”. Let us strengthen our courage. Let us not belittle ourselves. It’s not a man’s world. It’s not their rules we should follow. And they do not have any right to molest, rape or torment us on any ground.

Let us celebrate womanhood in a brave and bold way. I shall keep on following this space for a lot of workable ideas from time to time. Please do drop in all your suggestions.

This article was published on 23 June 2013

The Galloping Chariot of Time

A few days back, I read in one of the national dailies that the telegram service in India is going to close down forever. I know not why but I felt an upsurge of unrefined nostalgia while going through the news. I cannot help remembering about my early college days during which we were acquainted with the procedure of sending telegrams.

I have not been tricking myself with the ‘feel young factor’ but I don’t know why I suddenly feel old after going through that particular news. It seems to me as if we are in a transitional era stepping towards a brand new world.

I always have this confusion about technology and its influence in our lives. My confusion is still vague. Amid all these changes and evolutions that are happening across the world, I wonder if we have proceeded one step ahead towards civilization or remained miles backward in terms of culturing our age-old moors.

Never mind, welcome to modern times where people used smartphones but act like dumb asses. Welcome to a brand new world of technology where people can be remotely controlled and emotions play a minor role. Men, Money & Machine rule the roost.

Every single day, a new technology is introduced in the market. Technology is fascinating. It allures and grants us comfort and convenience that we never imagined about. But it equally prompts us to seek our own self amid the humdrums.

The chariot of time waits for none. And as the years pass by, we have come across many changes in terms of our lifestyle and mindset. It may though seem out fashioned but I often wish things had remained the same and that we had ceased to surrender to the dictatorship by the changing norms of technology.

When we were kids, we grew up listening to khonjel naachom, angaangi thouram and baro leela on the radio. We are now pampered with many choices of entertainment- MP3 player, laptops, mobile phones, tablets — you name it. Listening to a song of choice is but a matter of a few clicks. Except for some, it is now an out dated norm to listen to radio or watch the Doordarshan channel on the television.

At times, I have this feeling that modern kids are lucky and simultaneously unlucky. Lucky because they are pampered with many choices that we were not lucky enough to avail when we were kids and unlucky because they have missed the best part of technology-free days of childhood.

Well, call me a person from the past, but I miss those carefree days of childhood when life seemed easier and much fun. I miss those days when bread meant to us the Best Quality — the one-rupee worth dabooti. I miss those days when watching television meant staying glued in front of a black and white television set with siblings and cousins.

Sundays always used to be fun days. Besides, the Sunday morning serials on Doordarshan channel, the baro leela was a must listen. We still listen to the baro leela on every Sunday but the feel has gone.

As the saying goes, change is constant, we are supposed to adapt to all these changes. We won’t stop growing old. Memory may even start playing tricks with us anytime. However, I am pretty sure that there are some colorful memories that will always make us smile even when we don’t have any tooth left.

Well, it would be stupid to trade all our tomorrows for a single yesterday. So, it’s better to live in the present. Howsoever, I wish technology surprises us someday with a time machine through which we can travel back to those good old days. I do wish technology reinvents another telegram service in the near future, as we pay homage to the galloping chariot of our time.

This article was published on 16 June 2013

Folk Tales Forever: Morals of the Stories

Bubok used to narrate many funga wari when we were kids. We eagerly listened to all the tales without skipping a heart beat. The enthusiasm was evident from our curiosity to listen endlessly. Those sheer excitement!

The moral of most of the funga waari used to carry a similar idea — the triumph of truth over evil in the long run. To cite an example, in the story of Sandrembi and Cheisra, despite Cheisra’s umpteen attempts to torment Sandrembi, she continuously failed. In the long run, though after much hardship, Sandrembi emerged as the true victor.

In another funga wari of Mabung Taretki Thabaton, the Hingchaba who killed Thabaton had escaped easily after committing the heinous crime. In the end, however, Thabaton’s mabung taret caught him and punished him to death.

The same moral is also found in the story of Pebet and Houdong Lamboiba. Pebet, with her wit outsmarted the cunning Houdong Lamboiba, and saved herself and her kids. Read/watch Kanhailal and listen to Tapta for their amazing renditions of Pebet.

We cannot pinpoint, who is the Cheisra, Hingchaba or Houdong Lamboiba in Modern Manipur, even if Kanhailal and Tapta have made their interpretation quite convincingly. This is considering the complete mess we are in, where the police indulge in so many illegal pursuits as much as the outlawed rebels.

There are perhaps many of them prying here and there; who knows there are many of them running the state machinery, safeguarding the moral and culture of the land. It would be unsurprising if we ever find it.

It would take the simplest demographic study to figure them out. I agree that it’s their reign now; I do agree that they are invincibly powerful for the time being. However, a time has to come when all of them would share the same fate of Cheisra or Houdong Lamboiba. Mark my words on it. My confidence metre is full on.

What all can we do to make it happen?

When you continuously tell a cat that it is a lion, it starts believing itself as a ferocious lion. Let us reverse the trick, when you keep praising all the wrong doers, they will either be morally discouraged or embarrassed.

So, from now onwards, I am going to praise all our mantri-mandols, babu sahebs, thikadaars, angaang faaba churan thaabas, leibaak ningbagi mingda senkhaiba groups, drug lalonbas and so on. I would encourage everyone in Manipur to join me in such a crusade. More folks would imply more effectiveness. This is again contrary to what we believe, in our popular belief, about more people surprising the dogs because there is too much crap!

So, next time, when there is a drug scam in Manipur, let us not criticize the drug dealers. Let us instead consider them as pioneers who provide a cue for a prosperous thika. And for the various (paisana leiba yaaba) gobberment jobs, let us suggest them to increase their rates as well.

For the tolop free da chaaba teachers in government schools, let us do some crowd sourcing to organise an annual award for the best teacher of the year. The only criterion to bag such an award is simple. He or she needs to maintain a clear record of not visiting his or her school at least once in a year. As for the tha-gi tolop, it can be drawn through any acquaintance from the bank.

I must not forget to mention about our ekai khumnabada matik chadraba security personnel. Let us encourage them as much as we can. We should start listening to their khonda-waoba style as music to our ears. And if we are stopped on the way for frisking, we must not forget to tip them with as much money that we can afford.

So, guys let us get all these done within a few years from now in pursuit of a better Manipur to live. I don’t think most of these would be difficult for us to accomplish considering all the experiences we had in all these years.

Let us also keep reading more funga waari to extract the life-changing morals from time to time. This is the only means we can placate ourselves from the lousy gimmicks of psychopaths and greedy Houdong Lamboibas running the machinery of the state, preserving the identity of our race and what not.

This article was published on 12 May  2013

Corruption & Insurgency - A Combo Pack for Manipuris

We have a modern sense and understanding of things. We have tech-support. We are connected to the rest of the world within seconds. The world is on our finger tips. We see many swanky cars in our localities. We have many geniuses from multiple fields. There are just so many things we can boast about, except a liveable place to survive and sustain.

Hola! Welcome to the brand new Manipuri society where corruption and insurgency are the best ever combo packs for every Manipuri. Be a police and get rich. Be a revolutionary and get rich. Be one of them!

Corruption is like a bottle of whiskey in a room full of thirsty teetotallers with no other brew to quench their thirst. They do not have an option but to end up drinking it. First, they hate even the very thought of trying it. Later, out of their thirst, they change their mind and think about giving it a try. After the trial peg, they got the kick that they never had and they, kind of, enjoy it. After the second peg, things do not remain the same. The kick gets ‘higher’, and they become wilder. This is just an exemplified understanding of how corruption becomes addictive among most of the bureaucrats in every system including ours.

We have more than enough eligible officers in the system who can collectively transform it. But it’s quite a risk bearing task. Things will be topsy-turvy, their careers may even be at stake. So, they have only two options – to resist and bear with a hell lot of frustration or to surrender their conscience and self-respect. And as we know, most of them prefer to choose the latter for reasons that need not further exaggerate.

As for insurgency, it is a never-ending discussion. We can be proud of the very fact that many of our folks have innovative ideas (a hell lot of them). The hurdle is how to implement those ideas in one such place where owner-less bombs and bullets would play ‘dhampa-espaait’, sans a defined playground. A bomb can surprise anyone anytime, anywhere with a banging ‘dhampa’ on the way while one is driving back home or when one is leisurely enjoying a cup of tea at one’s own maangon or shumaang. We have no clue where all these bastardised bombs and bullets come from. At times, we would wonder if there is a secret bombs and bullets’ factory right in our ‘Awaanglom’ or ‘Makhaarom’ leikai. Though that would not be a plausible discovery, we could at least congratulate the CEOs of those factories for their insightful venture.

Imagine things were a little different. Imagine there were good colleges for our students. Imagine there were good employment facilities for our youth. Would they ever prefer to leave their sweet homes for better education or employment opportunities in different places across the globe? Eight out of ten would say they would love to stay at home. They stay out of Manipur as they are compelled to do so. Never mind, the you-do-it, so I do-it-attitude. The remaining 2 are categorized under amateur travelers who love exploring new places. They, however, have the same yearning feeling to return back home — a place where their hearts are.

Too much imagination can affect our already disturbed mental peace. So, let us keep wondering, discussing and brooding on all the issues. Let us share our opinions. Let us also not forget to share our opinions on crucial issues like AFSPA and insurgency. It’s more or less the question of who comes first – the hen or the egg. Some opine that insurgency is the main reason why a draconian act like AFSPA has been imposed on our society. While some others opine that AFSPA is a step-motherly treatment of Indian system in our society as a result of which insurgency rules the roost in the state.

Let the interesting discussions continue. Let more intellectuals share their valuable opinions. As for the mapaamgi chaaksu chadaba, mawagi chaaksu chadaba types like us, it is a wiser option to remain as some keen observers. The crore-dollar question about who will change Manipur is perhaps a siki-worth question inspired by the fable – then again who will bell the cat? We are the rats, let us silently enjoy our share of stale cheese and let all the fat cats enjoy their milk served in expensive bowls.

This article was published on 28 April 2013

Switch Off the Frenzied Show of Rapists, Murderers and Morons

Can you imagine a world without men? No crime and lots of happy fat women.
Nicole Hollander.

I cannot help agreeing with Hollander. I cannot help imagining a men-free world where women rule the roost and roam anywhere and freely sans any fear of getting molested, raped, tortured or killed. Of late, we are nauseated by too many news of girls getting molested, raped, tortured or killed.

A few months back, the molestation case of an actress from the film fraternity disturbed our sanity. As usual, we protested and raised our voice. Some got hurt in the protest; one lost his life. And after a few weeks, the news of that case became stale. No one ever gives a damn about what or why it happened. We were temporarily very mad and angry. We showed what we could do and dusted away our hands. And that’s it. It was just another case.

Repeated dose of insanity

After a few months, a more gruesome case again perturbed our sanity. This time, it was a case of murder so we were more fumed. A research fellow was murdered, her face and arms charred. After finding the culprits, we could not help but resort to violence. We burned down the homes of the accused persons and proved what we could do. In a few days or weeks, the story is going to be dumped like an officially unwanted file. The short public memory is just too much sometimes.

The rest is ‘kana khangjabano’. We think we are doing our part by calling bandhs and burning down the homes of accused persons.

We might as well give the judgment and send them directly to jail. Some of us would even want to execute them. The deliberations on capital punishment across the world would enter only one side of our ears. We know exactly what happens to the other side!

Everybody hurts

Many probable factors create gender-biased chaos in our society. I can name one distinctly.

Technology (sans any sense of civilization) is one of the factors we can consider. Technology has transformed our lives with so many innovative tools and toys. Sometimes I wonder if technology is taking a toll in our lives. It seems that we have chosen technology over other basic needs, like education and civic sense, which are more essential to reconstruct our society.

To cite a laitrik-laiba example, it does not matter if one is a Matric failed or a double PhD. Yet, it matters a lot to one’s reputation if one does not have a smart phone. I earnestly believe that mobile phones have done more bad than good to us.

The recent case of Satyabhama is one fine example to cite. For a lady who had been having a decent career, she could not help; she was going out with a guy, who was indulging in fake identity, thanks to the mobile phones. There are perhaps many similar cases like Satyabhama’s that are secretly stored like skeletons in the closet. Maybe, we would never know about them.

I have come across thought-provoking remarks by friends and acquaintances on fighting for our causes in a more realistic manner. I do consider the realistic ways (if there is any). But as far as I know, there is no such thing like a realistic or virtual way when it comes to share your opinions with your fellow beings about a cause or issue.

As for the so called revolution, we don’t need armed crusaders to bring a change in our society. We don’t need to elect a particular leader to lead a revolution. We must first understand the real meaning and sense of what a revolution is.

The politics of phanek and khudei

Empowering the fairer sex is one of the crucial steps we can take. My understanding of women empowerment might be different from others. Women empowerment, in my opinion, does not mean competing with men or feeling superior to them. We do not need to do much to empower women as such. We can start by changing our age-old psyche like ‘Shumaang matonda fanek fouba touheide’.

All we need is a society where women can dress, speak, act, as they want to; a society where women are not considered as mere child producing machines or bed warmers; a society where phanek is equally treated as a khudei.

If we start preparing our mind for at least some of these basic stuffs, we need not waste further time articulating on women empowerment and related issues. All in all, let’s switch off the frenzied show of rapists, murderers and morons.

This article was published on 21 April 2013

A Yaoshang to Remember

A tug of war showdown at a park in New Delhi

A festival is celebrated for its essence. So, sometimes it does not matter where and how you celebrate a festival as long as we keep up the essence. This year, we celebrated Yaoshang, coinciding with the last day of the festival, in our traditional style but with a typical quintessence in New Delhi.

We organized typical games like chafu thugaibi and thouri chingnabi. The best part of the event was the tambola housie. We had gathered at a popular park, as we scratched and shouted for the quick fives, stars, the lines and the like.

For a while, we felt so closer at home. It was indeed a typical spring evening. The only sad part was time restraint. Sundays are always precious for working professionals. We had to spare our Sunday afternoon to catch up with one another. The event, which was supposed to start hours earlier, began a little late. Yet, we make it up with unrestrained fun and frolic. I am sure, as a side note, we managed to redefine the concept of ‘Meitei pung’ here in Delhi.

Well, I do not intend to bore you all with my personal experience of how awesome my Yaoshang festival was. Still, I would like to stress on how important it is for us to catch up and celebrate every festival together, whether we stay back home or elsewhere across the world.

I have observed in all these years that our folks in Delhi do not have a unifying factor. Most of the diasporas and expatriates rely heavily on internet, and social media to be precise, to connect with their friends and families. I consider it that there is always a strong undercurrent of nostalgia among us. Most of us are homesick during many occasions. In fact, festivals fuel up our nostalgia meter.

Beyond the Yaoshang play-field

Quite contrary to my over-expressive opinion, I have also come across many Manipuris in the city who get pissed off with the smell of ngaari, soibum or hawaijaar. They, in my opinion, are the chanafam khangdraba kaangbu.

Ngari, soibum and hawaijaar are a few of the distinguishing factors of our community. The smell of ngari or soibum while crossing a building or ally makes most of us nostalgically hungry. And that’s a unique specialty of our community. Correct me if I am wrong.

No doubt, we have students’ associations here but in my opinion, I think we need a body that unifies both the students and working professionals in the city. Don’t you think we are quite used to community living? Besides, we get more ideas that further grow when we interact with one another. I used to crack jokes about a demand for a greater Manipur in the capital. I hope this does not sound like a step to launch a demanding crusade, like a homeland — a concept that we find it hard to resist.

Back at the Yaoshang arena

Nevertheless, I missed the original flavour of Yaoshang back at home — those countless games and sports at the leikai lampak, many chaak chanaba programs, getting pampered by mom’s delicious insaangs and the list is endless. I do miss all my leikai friends and cousins, with whom I grew up together celebrating Yaoshang and many festivals to the fullest.

We do celebrate Yaoshang here but we celebrate it paying a due homage to all the best memories about the festival we have. I had wished many a times to celebrate Yaoshang in the city. I randomly shared my plans then but never had any support from anyone in particular.

This time, we managed to make a difference with the help of some very good friends. We wore colourful phanek on that day as a reminiscence of good old Yaoshang days. Nothing can beat that.

We do have terrific plans for celebrating the forthcoming Cheiraoba in yet another compensatory attempt to lessen the degree of missing home. No matter, how and why we celebrate it, what makes us feel good is the feeling of being together with our own folks in the city. We come from different leikais; most of us did not even know one another but then the nostalgia factor, like a strong yubi thouri, binds all of us together.

I am glad to share that a Yaoshang, Cheiraoba or Chakouba in Delhi will never be the same again. Thanks to all my friends who have supported me and chanura marup (a group of exported Meitei chanuras) in pioneering this endeavour. We hope we can repay our gratitude with a scrumptious Cheiraoba meal soon. You might even want to join us. Cheers!

This appeared in 7 April 2013 edition of the Sangai Express 

When Spring Arrives, Can Yaoshang Be Far Behind?

When the full-moon brightens up the sky of lamta, when spring is finally summoned by seasonal lairembi, we celebrate Yaoshang — the much awaited carnival of the year. From angaang-nubi to ahal-laman, the festival is meant for everyone. During Yaoshang, there is no rich or poor, every one celebrates the festival in high spirits.

Yaoshang is a sweetheart for every one for weather and various other reasons. The only sad part of Yaoshang month is that yongchaak starts dry-cleaning his black overcoat, ready to put it on and say goodbye for the whole year. Yes, dear Yongchaak, you will be badly missed in many chakhums in Manipuri. The akangba maru is no match for the fresh and energetic Yongchaak, who rocks every chakhum a season ago across the state.

Unlike in North India and other states, Yaoshang, in Manipur, is celebrated for five long days. I do not feel envious about the North Indian way of celebrating Holi. All my good memories about the festival (as I mentioned in one of my earlier columns) trace back to those childhood days. The norms of celebrating Yaoshang have changed over the years, but the essence still prevails. The very mention of Yaoshang triggers our taste bud for pafor, gulla macha, heiyaai, baraf and of course, the most cooked insaang — kobi (foon) saag.

When it comes to the Yaoshang related achapot, modern kids are luckier to relish branded ice creams and snacks of all sorts. Back in those days, ice cream meant to us that plain, white colour ice (sans cream) cupped inside a plain cone. We relished it with utter delight; licking the more of ice, less of cream yet to our heart’s content. I believe, even Baskin & Robbins cannot compare the branding strategy of that particular ice cream, eh!

Well, children have their own reason why Yaoshang is a favourite of all the festivals. They have the license to be notorious playing with water and peshkari. Yaoshang is also one such festival that provides the license to children to ask pocket money from anyone at the leikai. They visit homes humming their favourite slogan — ‘Nakadeng laak-ae paisa piyu’. Some of the kids keep on the legacy of ‘Yaoshang special chaak chaanaba’. Holding a thumok in their hands, they visit from home to home buzzing, ‘Cheng leire cheng piyu, paisa leire paisa piyu’ — one does not have a choice but to offer those kids why they are asking.

All these while, I have been writing this column with a deep longingness for the festival and its essence. However, I feel good in my heart for all my folks back at home who are eagerly waiting for this festival. For the theist in me, I cannot help thanking God that we at least have Yaoshang. Yes indeed “Thank You Lord — Ebudhou/Ebendhou /Jesus/Krishna/Alah (whosoever) for Yaoshang”. We can have this break from the ennui that has become a part and parcel of our lives.

We need many Yaoshang-like festivals in our state to cherish life and to fight back the chronic and nauseating issues. From the context of Hinduism, Holi is celebrated as a triumph of good over bad. I wish to live that day when all of us celebrate our typical Yaoshang with the same spirit. It would be like icing the cake and I am already starving for it.

This year’s Yaoshang festival is going to kick-start in a few days. I am sure everyone is on high-spirit to celebrate the festival. I, through this column, personally wish everyone ‘A Very Happy & Colourful Yaoshang’. I would love to see many colourful pictures of the celebration across the state. So, kindly jam my newsfeed on Facebook with pictures of Yaoshang during the festival. Once again, happy Yaoshang to everyone.

This article was published on 24 March 2013

A Stolen Page from High School Diary

Who does not miss school days? The very mention of school makes us nostalgic. It is not an abnormal wish for many of us to have a time machine, which would help us travel back to those amazing years of our lives.

Well, the invention of a time machine may take hundreds or thousands of years. So, it is not a smart idea to keep waiting for a time machine. The only possible option is to bicycle down the memory lane and recollect some of those wonderful moments of our school days, just as I am going to do through this column.

The more we remember those carefree school days, the more nostalgic we become. We, then, used to nag on many petty issues. Homework was the most boring thing next to the Employment News in between the weekend movies on Doorsarshan; class works were equally deadening. Exams made us sick. And the day the school management announced the peikha routine, we would start worrying about how much we are left to study. Who else had more to study?!

Presently, the hectic corporate schedules do not score higher mark than the then list of activities we used to indulge in. Morning and evening tuitions, reading together with friends (which indirectly refers to lesser study, more fun), mom’s braja-taarakpa like esou when you keep watching TV during exam time and of course, asking for more pocket money on the last day of exam to enjoy forbidden snacks or to go for a movie with friends, and the list goes on. The sad part is that there will not be a repeat telecast of all those moments. We can only thank memory lairembi for making us remember all these days. I hope this memory never ever fades away.

Well, many of us would not be reluctant to admit that we, the Manipuris, have this interesting habit of adding a local flavour to most of the Angrazi terms. Hence, we usually call a notebook as ‘boi’ and refer to an instrument box as ‘kompass’, so similar to ‘kompakk’. We even shorten a local term for school bag — ‘lairik khao’ to ‘laikhao’. I am sure this trend continues among the school kids these days.

We need not feign, though. Our typicality is something that makes us stand apart from others. When we say ‘hoten’ (instead of hotel) or ‘hospitaan’ (hospital), we must say it loud and with pride. For that matter, we had never seen the difference between ‘see’ and ‘she’. Alternatively, how would Pink Floyd even sing ‘We don’t need no education’, with a double negative? Grammar Nazis and language ‘oja’ might excuse my opinion in this regard, or take my view just as another opinionated brick in the wall of Manipur Masala.

It was right during our school days that we learned about the art of squandering. Does it sound so fancy a word?

Well, on a positive note, squandering is not at all bad if you squander something that makes you happy. For example, the art of squandering the last page of Hindustan ‘boi’ or any boi was one of the best ever fun we had. That is the page where we would play zero konbi, word building, bingo, name-place and what not. At times, we would simply tear it to write messages to one another or to make a paper plane or boat out of it. That rocket never flew in the sky, that paper boat never sailed in the river but the memories still make us feel good. That’s their beauty!

Life would be a mistress of distress, if we had no good memories to cherish. Equally, films and novels have illustrated how life would be a disaster if we can remember every bit of it. I am thankful to all my classmates, senior and junior friends with whom I share my wonderful memories of school days. Surely, life is an unpredictable odyssey. It is but a part of our fate that we will land up somewhere we earlier expected or never expected before.

We move on loading sacks and sacks of memories in our hearts. Before being wavered amid the humdrums of mortality, we must remember and cherish all the good things and moments we have lived in the past. Long live memory lairembi!

This article was published on 17 March 2013

Celebrating Leisabi-Aribihood

We make it a ritual to celebrate the International Women’s Day on 8th March every year. We should keep showing there are things we can do good and things we can do better, much better than the ‘unfair’ sex a.k.a. men. This is a day we remind ourselves of our world and those around us.

As the years pass, as the whole world commemorate this year’s women’s day recently, I have this recurring mixed feeling if many of us are simultaneously celebrating womanhood and leisabi-aribihood. For a change, Manipur Masala through this column will be taking a noble initiative to see what lies behind and beyond the leisabi-aribihood days of ‘matamgi’ Manipur and ‘matamdugi’ Manipur.

When I was child, I had my own notion about a leisabi aribi. There were in fact many of them in my leikai. Those eche- and eney-like ladies were the ones I always looked up to for some fun and interesting event in the leikai during any type of festival. Come Yaoshang, for example, they were the ones who would organise thaabal chongba at the leikai lampak.

I have the fondest memories of Yaoshang with all of them. Many local games such as chafu thugaibi, pafor chabi, cha thakpi, thouri chingnabi etc. were specially organised for the so-called leisabis. As kids, we were not allowed to interfere in the games and events categorised for them. Then, the organising committee, usually those club members, would bark on the microphone like they were a Nazi group, at least, it looked like that.

Remember those long, long time we had to wait for the various angaang-gi thouram. Deep in my heart, however, I felt good that they were having their own share of fun. Well, that was a slice of how things were during ‘matamdugi’ Manipur.

In ‘matamgi’ Manipur, kids cannot wait to grow up so fast. We do not have a huge generation gap, but at times, I feel like a dinosaur when trying to understand the current trend of modern kids.

As far as Yaoshang is concerned, I have totally felt out of place. Taking part in various games and events of Yaoshang ‘sports’ held at the leikai lampak have a totally new meaning nowadays. The same goes for thaabal chongba. Things were different when we were kids. ‘Hujikaan gi thaabal di leisabi amata chongnadare, angaang ngaakta ngaire’. I wonder if this is really true.

Do modern kids grow up so fast? If yes, what is the secret behind their growth? Has the innocence of childhood days gone with the wind?

I do not have ready-made answers for all these questions that hum on my mind. I had been absent from my leikai for many Yaoshangs. And last year when I turned up there trying to recollect the memories of the wonder years, I felt like a fish out of water. No one can be blamed for any of these. This is perhaps the cycle of life that goes on and on. Perhaps, it is also time I get enrolled at the club of leisabi-aribi, bidding adieu to the wonderful memories of childhood and many festivals I had taken part in.

So far, many friends have joined the marriage club. Many of us are still having phobia about tying the nuptial knot. And there are people like me who lead their lives without a plan. An independent career and sole dictatorship of our lives are two main reasons why most of us are reluctant about tying the over-rated knot.

I do not intend to sound like a Nazi and do not even consider my married friends as the Jews. Yet I must admit that being a dictator of one’s life is a hell lot of fun. I do not take any bullshit from anyone and I make it sure others do the same. Things sound perfect this way!

Tomorrow things may be different but today I enjoy my freedom and that’s more precious to me than the most expensive jewels on earth that I would never ever dream to buy. It is important to celebrate our own life before we think about celebrating or commemorating a particular day. We have many things to celebrate every day.

Come what may, live life queen size sans any regret. Hail Leisabi-Aribihood! Cheers to life!

This article was published on 3 March 2013

Has Manipur Become a Haven for Smugglers?

Besides the news and woes of armed conflicts, insurgencies, blockades and bandhs, we have one more infamous reason to be sedated with. The recent drug scam in the state opens many deliberations, which if openly discussed, can possibly trigger our narcotized sense.

We need to ask how it has been going on unabated for all these years. What has been the narcotics department, which we know it exists, doing all these years? Are they on morphine or heroin too, so high and numb to do anything?

Let us listen to the stories. From our childhood days, we have been hearing about Moreh, not only for the international candle, torchlight and numitlei, but also for being an international drug route and a haven for drug peddlers.

Recently, the two controversial, huge drug haul – at the airport and Pallel – have reopened the Pandora’s Box. This time, we have more than a crore’s worth fact to rely on. Quite surprisingly, the VDF personnels have done something really admirable. They had something to occupy their attention after successfully calling for bandh across the state. We appreciate they did something we never expect them they would, in nabbing the smugglers red handed.

Well, it is time to celebrate the fictitious victory of our brave hearts after so many games of chor-police played for many uncountable years. Well done, again. Now we expect them to nab many drug peddlers and wrong doers in the future too. Keep up the good work.

By the way, I have been wondering if our security personnel have become smarter because of a particular source, say for example, the television? No offence, but could it be possible that digitization of cable televisions in Manipuri homes is playing its tiny part in tackling such an issue of societal importance? Have we been watching too many episodes of Crime Patrol and CID on Sony Television? Is that how we have suddenly become street-smart and brave enough to come out of the dungeon of cowardice? Let me apologise all these dramatic nuisances with a ‘Bazinga’.

And yes, how cannot I mention the possible involvement of an MLA in one of the scams? Should we accept this news in a more dramatic way – like rolling our eyes in bewilderment, wearing an utterly surprised look? I don’t think so, because this has been be going on for years.

This time, only the dice did not roll in their favour. Lo and behold! The few poor souls are finally nabbed. I have listed two probable reasons why they were nabbed:

a. Failure to sign a mutual pact, make a negotiation between their group and the (we all know who) other party; and

b. An overdosed belief that they would walk out clean this time without any trace as it had always been.

With all the probable evidences, we can conclude that it was a case of overconfidence and dependability on temporarily unreliable sources.

Role of media during the scam

The questions about ‘not’ having good, reliable journalists have always alarmed us every now and then. While the issues in our society become lousier day by day, media seems to be always under control. Sometimes, I wonder if the whole media is on Hawaiian maui-wowie.

As for the national media, why do we bother if they really care about it or not? The story of stone drinking milk in a temple makes sensational breaking news across the country. Our stories, however, are not sensational enough to go live on the news channels. Let’s not be shocked to admit it.

Well, history has been the witness how we are used to dumping one case over another. These two scams may as well vanish into thin air even before we know who else are involved in these cases. Who can afford to remember all these things as we lay blissfully in our eternal ennui that identifies our state? ‘Nong nini leiraga kaonakhidouraba ngaaktani’ – yes, this is our pathetic mindset. We do not remind ourselves and others on various issues that are meant to be our concerns. This is where our local media fails, being pathetic in following up the stories.

This is perhaps the right time we ask ourselves a few questions that concern our youth and the future generation. Has Manipur really become a haven for smugglers? Have drugs become a daily dose for our survival? Are we not ready to consider probable solutions?

Are we raising many Escobars in our state? If not Escobar, is Zhenli Ye Gon one of the drug lords that our local peddlers worship? I know not any of the answers. It seems the civil society organisations are on hallucinogens, the system is on raw ephedrine and we the public are happily morphined. This must not go on forever.

This article was published on 3 March 2013

An Impractical Thought Salad

In one of my earlier columns, I talked about how it is important to change ourselves and our family, before we even think about it at a societal level. Let me amplify a little bit more on this topic. My thought on this matter, closely resembling a salad, would sound impractical to many, but I cannot help resharing it.

We have this saying: ‘Khuta pairingei etaogi, yaada hukle echagi, kuut yotle eigi’. This is more than enough to conclude how we are, naturally, a selfish being. We must admit it. As they say, if you accept your fault, you find lesser reason to commit another mistake in the future. With these practical theories and applications of psychology, let us restate we must learn to unlearn what we have learned by mistake. This is the first step we can take to change ourselves.

Now, let us take a look around. Domestic problems, just to take an example, are a front-page news in our society. Rivalry among siblings over petty matters like ‘ingkhol’, ‘mou masel khatnaba’, the classic ‘manem-mamou yaanadaba’ and of course, the various cases of adultery are almost suffocating. It is unbelievable how siblings took to arms just for a petty issue over ‘ingkhol’. How much change should we expect in such a society?

Nowadays, ‘sambal khaabi’ or ‘chekpal chansinbi’ is the order of the day. These days, finding a big ‘kolup’ of amiable families in Imphal area has become a matter of surprise. Forget the ‘kolup’, for personal and security matters, walls are even created among siblings. They know that these walls, physically and emotionally, bar them from one another, yet they do not hesitate building them higher.

I would cite it as one of the examples of a disintegrating society where love, respect and mutual co-operation cease to exist even among the siblings. Ironically, such families congregate together to form a leikai, which is another important section of our society.

Coming to the societal representatives, most of us know that there are various categories of babu-sahebs and the pseudo activists in our society, who talk so loud and big about bringing changes. All I know is that they do not bring any change so far but bundles and bundles of notes for themselves. Interestingly ironical!

Some of them are the big shots – the engineers, doctors, thikadaars, they are the talk of the town, while some of them the adorable lots for the public who (seem to) contribute their best to the welfare of the society (or at least they think so).

It is really tough to differentiate a ‘thikadaar’ from an activist and vice versa. The nature of ‘thika’ may differ but as they say, you call a spade a spade. ‘Thika’ is always ‘thika’ no matter which ‘thika’ it is about.

Be it the equally influential contractor or the activist, I cannot digest their double standard in their own personal matters. Some of them are cheap hypocrites who never give a damn about their own families. They talk about the welfare of ‘ema-eben’, while their own moms, wives and children are completely ignored. They would meddle up with the domestic affair of other homes. Their homes are, on the other hand, the classic examples of broken families.

I will relate a personal experience in this regard. I once went to Brindavan during my college days. It was the month of ‘Waakching’. We took shelter at Radha Kund. As compared to Ahmedabad or Delhi, Uttar Pradesh was freezing cold then. While we were strolling around Radha and Shyam Kund, we came across an Abok who was begging money on the street. There were many Aboks out there, but this one caught our sight. She did not even wear a sandal or warm clothes and was shivering. I questioned myself if religion is meant to torture oneself for no logical reasons. That was the very year in which my ardent fascination with Hinduism almost had its uncanny end.

No religion should encourage its followers to practice self-torture. It was more or less a self-torturing experience trying to find solace in the abode of the gods, loitering around in torn clothes on a freezing cold winter morning. Ironically, the sadhus and pandits worship in the most comfy way. Room heaters for winter, and air conditioners for summer – not a bad mode of worshipping, eh?

Coming back to the point, on being inquired, we found out that the abok’s son is one of the famous chief engineers in Imphal. I did not want to know who that engineer was, what appalled my heart was the sight of that old lady clad in torn clothes begging in the streets of Radha Kund. She came to Brindavan for a holy trip but was later abandoned by no one but her own family. By now, she must have already left for her heavenly abode but my heart still pains, thinking over how she might have cursed her own suffering days.

We desperately need some ideas and actions. Respecting the elders, shredding the greed of power and money (and ‘ingkhol’, of course), destroying the wall of misunderstanding and hatred among fellow beings, cherishing good relationship with one’s members of the family and bothering only about one’s own business. I believe, we can at least start with all these just for a trial or a beta version. Let us try if we can really do it. If we successfully fail, things will always be the same. So why bother?

This article was published on 24 Feb 2013

Education in Manipur — An Utter Clutter!

Recently, we have come across many news and views about how education in Manipur is in such a clutter. I have found out some reports why education is in such a stinky situation in our state.

Why ludo is the favourite ‘sport’ of the teachers?

I have studied a few fraudulent traits about majority of the government teachers. These teachers are the sincere lots who want to educate and share their experience with children who have enrolled in the government schools. The students are lazy enough to attend classes in such schools. However, who are responsible for creating an unhealthy education atmosphere in the first place?

The education ministry, in all these decades, has implemented its best measures and strategies to ensure proper education to students all across the state. Officials in this department have not taken even a single penny as a bribe while recruiting eligible staff for various schools. Their sincerity is unquestionable.

We had a fallacious understanding about the government schoolteachers who have been indulging in their hobbies, such as kata lonba and ludo saanaba. We cannot blame them. Who would not want to bask in the sun in this cheerful weather, sitting on broken benches at the school grounds?

If students are negligent about their education, the teachers cannot force them to cultivate the interest of reading and studying. They have to kill their time at the schools, which is why they indulge in one hobby or another.

How could I forget to mention the encouraging steps taken up by some teachers who never show up at their schools? Most of these teachers loiter around the leikai, visiting the homes of every single student of their school, advising them to focus on their education. Some of them are successful in convincing students to pay a friendly visit at the school; some of them fail to do so.

In my insincere opinion, they have done the best that they could. Hats off to them! Their unselfish attempt to restore a good education system in our state is laudable! They have provided innumerable number of counseling to the parents of those students, who are not good at ‘waarak waatemba’ of their kids. Now the first report ends here.

Facts do not feign

Let us completely forget the above report and get to the second report. As per one of the recent news sources, in Manipur, 66.7 per cent children in the age group of 7—16 were enrolled in private schools while in Tripura, 96 per cent of children in the same age group were enrolled in government schools.

This survey should be a matter of shame for the government schools and the related ministry provided they are at least concerned about it.

Education, profession and aspiration

I consider teaching is one of the noblest professions. It is such a beautiful art of imparting knowledge and adding essence to life. We have always considered our teachers wiser and even more thoughtful than our own parents. Whether we admit it or not, teachers influence our lives more than our parents do. They are forbearing. They have mountains of patience. They are the banks of knowledge and wisdom. From the social context, teachers play a major role, while shaping the mind of students from the pre-nursery classes to the university level.

As a kid, I always wanted to become a teacher. When I grew up, I have eventually found out what a remarkable profession it is indeed to be a teacher. As a teenager, I used to take private tuitions of some local kids and cousins, from time to time, as a means to earn myself a decent pocket money.

Looking beyond the realm of a leikai or kolupki tuition oja, I could not dare to dream about becoming a real teacher. Considering my own flaws, I dropped the idea. I do not have any of the qualities to become a teacher. I never intend to shame the very profession by becoming a teacher for namesake.

I wish all the ineligible teachers had the same thought that I have. Caught in the wrong job, it is too late for them to realize because only the salary matters. They have not chosen the profession intentionally. Let us better leave them alone.

There are of course many ideal teachers from government schools. They are like the brave warriors, who keep fighting despite the fact that they have lost the battle long time ago. I have my sincerest regards for all those teachers.

“Education is the most powerful weapon,” Nelson Mandela once remarked, “which you can use to change the world.” If all of us believe that education is a means to fight the socio-political craps and bring a desirable change in our state, we should share our ideas to bring a positive change in this sector.

We know that education in Manipur is an utter clutter. Let us lend our hands to clean up the mess. I encourage the volunteers to come up, discuss the issues, and possibly find probable remedies to cure the badly infected system.

This article was published on 17 Feb 2013
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