• Sun. Jul 14th, 2024

Summer Holidays and Shillong memories

By Sucheta Chatterji

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It’s nearly summer, and soon the school annual holidays will begin. And families in my neighborhood will start packing their bags for their yearly vacations…..some will travel to their ancestral homes and others to popular holiday destinations elsewhere!

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As a schoolgirl in Guwahati, summer vacations for me meant traveling to our ancestral home in Shillong and spending time with our grandmother and other family members.

It was fun catching up with cousins, and my best friend Protima who lived nearby! While Maa was busy with numerous tasks around the house, I was left to fend for and amuse myself to the best of my ability. And nothing was better than spending time with Protima! Protima and I would roam through the length and breadth of our locality (Police Bazaar) every day, which including window shopping, and peeping into the numerous cinema houses which a few kind and nice gatekeepers would allow us free of cost 3rd class of course. The front stalls would be called 3rd class those days and we were regulars in Singhania Talkies and sometimes Bijou Cinema. The characters in the films would look elongated, or broad at times and the audio would be eardrum bursting but hey, we enjoyed them thoroughly sitting on those wooden benches in the first row of a cinema hall!

All the while we would feast on forbidden stuff like naga phal, safa, saiyong, corn, imli, green mangoes etc…..things guaranteed to give one a solid stomachache afterwards if not taken with restraint! And stomachache meant a spoonful of castor oil and all that follows it yuck!

Protima and I had this liking for cigarette sweets coming in a packet with phantom’s photo and also some weird mixture of imli which was sold in most paan shops. And talking about paan shops how can I forget their Teer gambling-related activities, as most of them were brokers? We would look up at the results written on a slate and occasionally walk down to Polo field to peep at the Teer game going on live there….. a very popular and talked about event, every day in Shillong those days! And as this gambling was dream related we would recall our dreams and try to figure out what numbers would actually win! What fun it used to be….. we were young, footloose and fancy-free! We really knew how to be happy with whatever little we had.

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