"Shillong": A Lyrical Tribute to "The Scotland of The East" by Debasish Parashar
"Mild showers of rain
And a rainy evening in Police Bazaar
Burns out like cigarette smoke
Of midnight intimacy"
Nestled amidst pine-covered hills of East Khasi Hills District of the Northeast Indian state of Meghalaya lies a town where nature and human civilization seem to have intertwined since time immemorial.
The beautiful town Shillong, which goes by the name of "Scotland of the East" is a place that has been blessed by Mother Nature to exist pristine and offer tranquility to all who happen to drop by.
Shillong is a beautiful mystery, just like its weather. The town can be misty, rainy and sunny in a single day. The name Shillong is believed to be derived from a local peak in the state. However, according to a legend of Meghalaya, the name came from a handsome boy "Shyllong" who was mysteriously born to a virgin mother.
Before becoming a tourist destination or a capital town, Shillong was but a village which in 1864 became the civil station of the Khasi and Jaintia Hills of Meghalaya. It was made a sanatorium for the British in 1829, during the First Anglo-Burmese War. A serious uprising by the Khasis against the British followed in 1829, and after the Khasi leader Tirot Sing surrendered to the mighty British military, this place was made the British headquarters which then was named "Yeddo".
Shillong as a place has a lot to offer to all who happen to visit it. Diversity lies galore in the town with different tribes who constitute the majority of the town's population, besides being home to many who had settled here long ago.
And if you thought that natural beauty is all Shillong has got to offer, be not so conclusive. The town has its own street food cult with a plethora of of offerings. From Momos, Jalebis and Chow Mein, traditional dishes like Dohkhlieh, Pukhlein, smoked meat will definitely relish your taste buds.
Besides the natural beauty that surrounds the capital of Meghalaya, Shillong, the town and its people are immensely passionate about music. This is clearly reflected when the town celebrates the Bob Dylan festival and a plethora of musical shows and concerts that are organized in the town throughout the year.
There's something inexplicable about the town which prompted men of great stature, from different walks of life, to pay a visit to Shillong. From social reformer Swami Vivekananda to freedom fighter Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose to literary genius Kabiguru Rabindranath Tagore, Shillong had and still attracts many. The town has a distinctive aura that is bound to linger on your mind once you have visited the place.
The Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore wrote in his "Shillong er Chithi" (Letters from Shillong):
"Gormi Jokhon tutlo na aar pakhar haowa Sarbote – thonda hote daure elum – Shillong namak porbote"
The place and the name have often been discussed. Many regional and Bollywood movies have been shot in and around Shillong, the latest one being Rock On 2, which released in 2016.
But in the words of Debasish Parashar, the man behind the Shillong song, the town is more than a place, or a name, it is an "emotion". The evenings of Police Bazaar, the pine trees, the cloud covered hills, the rains which adorn the beautiful town and add to its charm becomes vivid in Parashar's musical tribute.
The Shillong Song is a treat of freshness and nostalgia. It take the listener on a musical ride to the abode of clouds—"a beautiful place where people come to find their dreams, to feel the beauty of nature, and to open their minds to the beauty around in such a creative retreat, surrounded by lush green pines; a beautiful place filled with romance, love, and happiness".
The music video on Shillong has been shot in and around the town and captures well-known places like the Police Bazaar, which is at the heart of the town, the Lady Hardinge Park, Labong and many others.
Parashar’s description of Shillong is fable-like. The "emotion" he speaks of is something that can be best conveyed only when you cut off from everything, plug in your earphones and allow yourself to imbibe his melodious voice. The song doesn't disappoint on the exhilaration for a second.
If you are on your maiden visit, the song is highly recommended en route to Shillong from Guwahati. Let your eyes feast on the tranquility that surrounds you and your ears on Parashar's angelic voice.
The lyrics of the song and Parashar's voice are not less than an amalgamation of internationally acclaimed singer Dr. Bhupen Hazarika's deep narratives and Papon's melody. The Shillong Song has been watched and re-watched 33k times within just a few days of its release.
Parashar's team is one that is comprised of emerging, energetic and highly talented artists. The cinematography has been crafted by Anirban Hazarika and Manash Bora, music production by Pranoy Dutta and Pronoy Saikia. The exhilarating mood that the guitar sets in has been created by Writuraj Gogoi. The other team members are Dipankar Jyoti Bora, Danijela Trajkovic and Mysti Milwee who have been associated with Parashar in promoting his works at national and international levels. Non-established actors namely Dipankar Jyoti Bora and Ritom Jyoti have been featured in special appearances in the musical masterpiece.
Before The Shillong Song, Parashar had collaborated with Mysti Milwee for another project Pamaru Mana. Pamaru Mana is a Borgeet originally composed by the great Vaishnavite scholar and social reformer of Assam, Srimanta Sankardev.
Mysti Milwee is a Synesthesia Artist, a rare art form in which she creates visual interpretation of music. Speaking about this rare talent she is blessed with, Mysti says that this is often about vivid imagery, visceral and sometimes inexplicably unsettling. She dreams of making a positive impact on the world through her rare talent. "Always do whatever I can to make the world a better place. It is where my heart is," says Mysti.
Debasish's collaboration with Mysti Milwee on #Borgeet Pamaru Mana appeared in Moonchild Magazine, Ramingo Blog, as well as US newspapers such as The Gadsden Times and St. Clair News-Aegis. They are looking forward to a music-painting collaboration on Shillong as well.
Debasish Parashar is a Creative Entrepreneur, Singer/Musician, Lyricist and Multilingual Poet based in New Delhi, India.
Parashar works as an Assistant Professor of English literature at the University of Delhi and is the Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Advaitam Speaks Literary journal.
His write-up on Majuli has been listed amongst top 100 online #worldheritagesites stories globally in May 2016 by Agilience Authority Index. His literary works have appeared in Sentinel Literary Quarterly, Contemporary Literary Review India, Kweli, Enclave/Entropy, Praxis, Expound, Asian Signature, SETU, Five2One, and elsewhere. Parashar has been (or will be) translated into Russian, Spanish, Romanian, Serbian, Albanian, Persian, Macedonian, Afrikaans, Indonesian and many other languages. Debasish's works are featured in international anthologies such as "Where Are You From ?", "Apple Fruits of An Old Oak" and "22 Wagons", among others.
You can follow Debasish Parashar on Strikingly, YouTube, Facebook, Poets & Writers, Saavn, and iTunes.
Rajarshee Chakraborty is a Journalist, Content Writer and Travel Freak based in Assam. He is a former Copy Editor with The Sentinel. He runs an independent blog on North-East India called http://northeastfeed.in/. He is Researching on Naxalism and Urban Naxals.