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The Imaginary Homecoming by Kapil Arambam

The Imaginary Homecoming by Kapil Arambam

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Published by Kapil Arambam
Kapil Arambam takes you through a surreal world of visiting his hometown, whilst elaborating on the pros and cons of living in a metro and the charm of a sleepy town
Kapil Arambam takes you through a surreal world of visiting his hometown, whilst elaborating on the pros and cons of living in a metro and the charm of a sleepy town

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Published by: Kapil Arambam on Jun 01, 2010
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06/01/2010

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1
The imaginary homecomingKapil Arambam
May 28 2011, Imphal: 
The laid-back attitude isgetting right under my nose, since I left New Delhifor good a year ago. Now what I care for is myprofession, and a bit of homework to help familyand friends in the coming times. I'm subsequentlywont to rise early, on the dot when sweating ormugginess used to wake me up in days gone by. When I remember thosedays of chapatti, samosa, gulab jamun, milk tea, I'd go to theleikai tea-stall – where old menanatomise the morning paperover a cup of tea and nurturethe good old memories of thosedates-in-the-garden; Dev Anandand company; snatching-and-marrying girls of their choice;and those idyllic time before RKSanayaima, A Somorendro, NBisheswar and their ilk took thecentre stage in the region's politics.As the month advances into the middle week,I don't worry about Bunty Booree, my formerlandlord in Maharani Bagh, troubling me for therent anymore. This dickhead, who would alwaysshow up in the early morning around mid-month,was a real pain in the neck. He always took light
years to help me x a broken tap or a defunctswitch-box but he was always on schedule to
collect the payment. I could notice his rapaciouseyes, which sparkled if the monthly electricity bill showed a higher remittance... just because hewas getting more Mahatma Gandhi notes. Andhow I hate him when he came delightedly toinform me that he was raising the rent! No moreI'm preyed on my mind by his piggishness thesedays. Incidentally, he wasmy second landlord, and theprevious one in Malviya Nagar– a subjugated, aged man,whose grumbling wife wouldhenpecked him many a time in front of us – was noless worse.Yet I feel sorry that I have got these scumbags,
in the rst place, to rant my vitriol. But they didn't
seem to care how much I had made an effort to getapposite accommodation – each episode teachingme the value of time and money in a hard way. I
had to take help from friends and brokers to nd a
pad where: the lessor is not nosy; I enjoy the liberty
to cook sh, chicken and pork or delicacies withngāri and soibōm; I can call my friends for a night
stay; and so on. Thank goodness, both of these owners gave meample freedom but it was theirScrooge character that put me off.For this matter, I take pleasure inthe sojourn at the Akriti Hostel inNew Friends Colony, where I stayedfor two years during my master's
degree. I didn't have the luxury to
cook or invite my friends, but it wasideal in the course of my study. Ialso met a lot of great friends whohave become so close as much as myleikai-, school- and college-friends. In these daysof Facebook and Twitter, the real-time distance isapparently a misnomer. Just miss a beat on my profession in this confab.As you know, there is no probability of an AnilAmbani or a Narayana Murthy putting moneyinto our state. However, I have managed to getmy hands on a coveted post in a fortunate strokeof serendipity. Don't get me wrong here, I havegot this job on account of my merit alone and notthrough some backdoor selling and buying asis customary and revered in our holy land. For
long, I have mulled over pursuing a protable
merchandising activity rather than putting ourancestral paddy on sale for the rarely available,clerical vacancy in a nearly defunct workplace.
Government ofces are
supposedly obsolete,maybe the miseriesaffecting the state, havealso bogged down its
employees. As of now, what I want to aunt is my
set of skills that I have acquired in my 21 years of 
formal education and a couple of years' experience
in the industry, but not my social standing in a
The imaginaryhomecoming
I have got a job on account of my merit alone and not through some backdoor selling and buying as is customary and revered in our holy land 
Kapil Arambam takes you through a surreal world of visiting his hometown, whilstelaborating on the pros and cons of living in a metro and the charm of a sleepy town
 
2
The imaginary homecomingKapil Arambam
dreadfully sick society, where cheap money can buy you anything that a dozen of MasterCardcould not even afford elsewhere.All of us are responsible for the atrociouscondition we are in today. When we becomeinformed electorates we can have a meaningful
society. This is not oversimplication though it
seems so, since we have lost count of the thousandsof invocation through the media. In retrospection,our predecessors aremore suited to gossipin a leikai tea-stallthan to see the lightof contemporaryManipur. Some few of them, who have the
privilege to attend college and hold ofce,
are instilling the art of corruption whilst thecommoners are complying with the dictates as if this was the providence.My generation is also picking up; now we arecoughing up for the job we want, and it will not
 be unexpected in the coming decade when we
outsmart the old-timers. Despite this, we are notdumb clucks like them. There is a good chancethough it will not be possible in, at least, anothertwo hundred years, about people returning back and bucking up the economy. Alright, let theyounger generation abuse us too. Reverse braindrain or brain gain – you call it any name – ispossible, provided we get rid ourselves of theintense animal instincts in us.And the political masters are alsoinevitably coerced to appreciatethat we cannot be taken forgranted eternally.Take me as a simple human being with simple tastes. I don't bear anyone a grudge, what yousow you reap; the social mores
only dene your judgement of 
the world at large. And there isno question of selling myself off in this situation, for I would havestayed back in Delhi if I had notgotten this shot. As luck wouldhave it, I'm destined to be here. Now it's no more
a hassle to go to the ofce. I commute on my own
and don't have to wait for a cab,in which I was once loaded withcolleagues in the same way ascommodities are conveyed on alorry along the highway.Oh, those sickening feeling intravelling for an hour when the
temperature hovers at 45℃! I
took pity on those guys, who hadto travel across three states from Noida to Gurgaonvia south Delhi for work. I can recall those daysof sweltering heat, which no fan or cooler couldhinder on occasion. It's perspiring when I look  back on.Today when I leave home for work, I'm neither bothered whether I have locked my door or not. Ihave always enjoyed my work. From my previous job, I learnt so many new things in the professionalfront, grasped the inside knowledge of the market,and have matured into a man. Though I loathedthe tasks of pencilpushers that wewere occasionally burden with. I longfor responsibilities,which are appropriate and are up to my abilities.But then, work is work – you are perhaps a nerd if you think it's worship. William Faulkner, the notedAmerican writer, described the eight-hour regimenin an interview in 'Writers at Work': "One of thesaddest things is that the only thing that a man cando for eight hours a day, day after day, is work.You can't eat eight hours a day nor drink for eighthours a day nor make love for eight hours – all youcan do for eight hours is work. Which is the reasonwhy man makes himself and everybody else somiserable and unhappy."Imagine Faulkner's ire if I tell him I had workedfor ten hours a day. Wait, I buy Malcolm Gladwell's10,000-hour rule. Investing time on our subject of 
interest in the ofce would be itsy-bitsy for the
simple reason we are not paid todo what we desire. Yet there is asilver lining in working anywherethat we are devoting our time,at least, on the profession of ourchoice. What matters is, in theend, how much we are becoming
procient in our trade and we are
adrenalised to perform our duties."See, Eepu Faulkner, it was acorporate canon," I'd convince him."That's the norm and presuming Ispilled the beans about the wickedschedule, they would simplyhand me the pink-slip... Humanresources are not as scarce as cow dung, like thefolksy saying in our town. I had a shift work from12 noon to 10 pm but luckily I didn't have a nightshift, the murderous graveyard shift. After all theypaid me good, and it's quite a formidable time forme to learn the tricks... so I didn't mind."I'm earning half the salary I brought homepreviously, yet I can save twice the amount Iused to in a month. That's the way of small-townliving. I love it and hate it simultaneously – butthen, the issue will only bring in the merits anddemerits between a life in the metro and that of a teeny municipality. I get better facilities and
 
3
The imaginary homecomingKapil Arambam
easy access to services in Delhi still the comfortof living in Imphal, with my own folks in thefamiliar environs, has its own fascination. Themost peculiar thing about my hometown is the break I have got to enjoy the sight of breathtakingnatural landscapes. The so-called wonders of theIndia Gate and Qutub Minar are completely down
six sets to love in a match against the curling
Khonghampat road having picture-perfect views orany of the mysterious hilly terrains with heartfeltravines across the state.The weekends might be lifeless as the Elephantand Budhachandra of Samumakhong, nonetheless,the renovated Khwairamband Keithel, Mujikhul(read the local wine vendors) and the various local joints provide a worthwhilesanctuary. Needless tosay, there are other hotspots, including the NH 39(upto Sekmai), Moirang,Churachandpur, Moreh, the Tamenglong route,Kangchup, et cetara; these places are viable, seeingthat we can return back home in a day's time.I have only a few alternatives, alas, when theentire state is a forbidden area – which they taggedit as a disturbed area in bureaucratese. And it isregrettable we have reproachable creatures in theform of paramilitary forces and delinquent rebelsto breed more agitation.Utterly confusing it is sometimes, whether wehave traversed 21st century or are hemmed ina time warp. The daily load shedding for longhours makes the eyesight painful. For the pathetic
electricity, we can go to the power ofce and the
concerned, or rather the unconcerned ministry, both of which have ready-made answers to citeinadequate supply from the projects. But thegrievance notes have been buried under the debrisof Loktak and in Yurembam long ago. No morehave the people felt the need to protest but tosuffer in silence. In fact, we can see in this darknessthat a life is far more important than electricity.What we do most of the time is distract ourselvesfrom the avaricious eyes of bloodshed and drug
addiction and extortion and hostilities.
It's not surprising all the rubbish will peltdown like a June downpour, when I mention aproblem in Manipur, because no system is workingin tandem here and we have fucked almosteverything up. Insurgency, underdevelopment and
conicts are conspicuous throughout and in their
shadow lies the administrationthat has gone haywire, thecomplication of transport andcommunication, a deplorableeducation system, insubstantialhealth care, dismal infrastructure, a chaoticsocial order and what not. And their genesis ismultifaceted too, with the geography, economyand history of the land, twisted in such a waythat the search for a solution to these problems isonly as good as waiting for Chaisra to reciprocateSandrembi's feelings. Time has certainly goneahead of us in our march towards enlightenment.Remember, time has not even spared us.In this degeneration and plodding socialmovement lies my life. I give a damn about howmuch O Ibobi-bozo has amassed wealth fromthe government coffer or how many civilians arethe gun-toting thugs going to murder. I'm leastworried how many times people will rape Manipurand taint the record of the land with barbaric
The so-called wonders of the India Gate and Qutub Minar are completely down six sets to love in a match against the curling Khonghampat road having picture-perfect views or any of the mysterious hilly terrains with heartfelt ravines across the state The search for a solution to the problems in Manipur is only as good as waiting for Chaisra to reciprocate Sandrembi's feelings 

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