Shillong: Still A Happy Hill Station

1. Vatsala Tibrewalla, Restaurateur:
Vatsala who is a young entrepreneur of Rajasthani origin runs Dylan Café dedicated to the legendary American musician, poet and nobel laureate Bob Dylan. Shillong has an amazingly vibrant musical culture where it seems everyone knows how to play the Guitar. Dylan is worshipped like a God here and Shillong has a special connect with the tambourine man who famously sang about the answer my friend is blowing in the wind. His fans led by local musician Lou Majaw have been celebrating Dylan’s birthday with a tribute concert every year since 1972. Dylan Café serves a good mix of hearty American comfort food along with local favourites. It is walking distance from the Tripura Castle where most of our clients stay.

2. Careen Joplin Langstieh, Artist:
Careen is a painter whose work is intrinsically linked to the way of life and thinking of Meghalaya. They can be as commonplace as scenes in a kitchen to something abstract as ideas borrowed from local folklores. The female finds prominence in her work. Careen’s community – the Khasis – are a matrilineal society that holds women in high esteem and traces descent through the female line. In Khasi marriages the men go and live with the wife and her family and it is the youngest daughter who is the sole custodian of wealth and property of a clan.

3. Wanphai Nongrum, Artist, Teacher and Social worker:
Wanphai after spending over 20 years working with children and the youth in different parts of India and Nepal now manages the quirky not for profit You& I café which is a part of his project Path to Creation. The café serves as a creative space for the youngsters of Shillong where they are free to come and jam with their musical instruments, paint, play traditional board games and talk freely about issues that matter in their day to day lives. You& I café serves local snacks and has over 70 plus varieties of teas made from local herbs and spices. Wanphai also trains young adults, parents and organisations working with children and the youth to develop listening, observation and counseling skills. He believes that true transformation of a society is possible only through dialogue where issues are discussed openly and not taken for granted or swept under the rug.

4. Rida Gatphoh, Musician and Craft Activist:
Rida is the founder and lead singer of a musical collective – Rida and the Musical Folks- which sings (both in English and Khasi) about Meghalaya, Nature and Environment. Their musical performances not only includes songs, but also poetry and storytelling of Khasi folklore and its relevance in present times. Having been a largely oral community until the mid-1800s, when Christian missionaries arrived and required an alphabet to translate the Bible, the history of Meghalaya was expressed through spoken myths, folktales, and songs. Rida’s ‘Dakti: Handmade Impressions’ is a handcrafted goods label which works with local artisans from Meghalaya and their products range from handmade pottery to bamboo weaves and silk. Meghalaya’s black pottery in particular is very special which is done by women only and is purely handcrafted – no potter’s wheel or machines – still primitive, still cent per cent natural.

Vatsala Tibrewalla, Restaurateur

Careen Joplin Langstieh, Artist

Wanphai Nongrum, Artist, Teacher and Social worker

Rida Gatphoh, Musician and Craft Activist