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
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