Book Review: Che in Paona Bazaar: Kishalay Bhattacharjee

Che in Paona Bazaar: Tales of Exile and Belonging from India's North East by Kishalay Bhattacharjee, an ex-resident Northeast correspondent of NDTV, is a chronicle of his moments that encompass a set of sketches and, tales that go unreported with a series of twenty two snapshots as of Manipur, Assam, Meghalaya and a short spell in Burma that carts the mythic nuances with a sense of going on board on an escapade to esoteric places that tenders a peep of days in Manipur along with the rest of the Northeast, a terrain loaded in folklore, ethnicity as well as sadism, and a startling juggler of disorderly as well as certain governmental and administrative letdowns.

The Northeast isn’t just a breeding ground for uprising and fatal encounters, a pop in on each international rock band’s list, or where used syringes lay waiting in dim lanes, but there is the other truth as well, of illicit love and marriages, polygamy, intriguing gastronomy, and other slight narratives that never get through to our newspapers or telly screens.

The book’s name taken from Manipur’s iconic Paona Bazaar, most popular street, which offers super good deals for those interested in getting Chinese wares with its heaps of umbrellas for as low as 50 rupees, mosquito repellent and tennis racquets for 90 rupees, counterfeit Levi’s canvases for 100 rupees, pirated Hollywood movies and music videos for as low as 35 rupees and multi-coloured bedspreads, with the bulk of the stuff sport Che Guevara’s face representation embossed on almost everything in vests, key-chains, rings, denims, guitars, mugs and even on spice packets and HIV drop-in centres.

For the foremost part, the author articulates through a conscientiously shaped imaginary personality called, Eshei, an emblematic Manipuri young woman coming back from Delhi, embracing in her spirit the desire to be at home and converses on a complete cohort emergent in a nearly dysfunctional social order, plummeting in love, coming-of-age, ambitions, and the baggage of an identity pedestal on hostility as well as secessionism.

Eshei is someone who embody one and all and yet is carved as a human being with the encrusted nature of the tête-à-têtes along with nicks of discourses keeps one conjecture on what is true, what is possibly true and, what is the unsaid truth that is emotively profound and leaves you with an impulsive flavour.

The book throws light on populace toughened by continuous destitution who stage their individual everyday upheaval by breathing and blossoming against all odds, and of a youth fighting to fuse their compound personalities while digging up collective times gone by, to fetch to being folks overlooked by their fellow countrymen.

This volume has put in a nutshell numerous accounts on the verve of folks, their adore for food, music, traditions, and so on that is pedestal on evidence and so much more which puts in the picture the man on the street who just wants good infrastructure, a pay without percentage cuts, electricity, good schools and safety.

A place so lastingly manifest by internal divergence and aggression that optimism is feeble and emaciated like the figure of Irom Sharmila, starving herself in gripe of the ruthless as well as barbaric Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFPSA), enforced for the run of the mill radicals, who impose their command through force, who are goons, out to extract funds and doesn’t have any principles.

And so we are indulged to the unheard myriad enchantment with well-heeled legends of WWII period, distant settlements, Meitei thali, drinking local sekmai, Manipuri pop groups, student protests, power cuts, of populace weary of the uprisings, as well as a drive to the bazaars of border town Moreh and the splendid Singha Dam.

This tome is a fine consign to bite in concert a perception in an insightful description that puts together his continual trips along with the association in an assortment of fairy-tales and is as authentic as the brutality that has tattered the terrain distant, leaving its citizens struggling for an air of normalcy, if nothing else and there's an element of resentment which perhaps required an opening unlike from the frosty and objective nature of news broadcasts.

The paperback with anecdotes that are an outcome of an extensive as well as unwavering glance into Manipur’s precedent and present is a testimony of shared anguish of soreness through reality as well as creative writing and is an endeavour to craft the person who reads to intermingle with existent folks, and not in an illusory society.

The author inscribes finely with his radiant strokes shares a warm conne¬ction with certain compartments of the Nor¬theast and what come through in his inscription is valid apprehensions as well as concerns, the knack to blend in with locals, to take pleasure in their cooking as well as generosity and share their yarns along with mirth and wonders what is at fault, whether the helplessness of the locals to take in the outsiders into the system or the conceited obduracy of the plainsmen to espouse any of the local traits into their individual way of life.

An indispensable interpret as well as a starting point to identify with a remote part of our country long ignored is a reverence to a territory the author may not belong to in the austere wisdom of lineage and race, but is one which he unquestionably cares for, that have lost out in the bargain for news.

Format: Paperback ♥ Pages: 248 ♥ Published: January 2013 ♥ Publisher: Pan Macmillan ♥ ISBN13: 9789382616047 ♥ Language: English