Thursday, May 19, 2011

India Day 2: Meghalaya

100_0433.JPGI woke up this morning after a good night's sleep at Hotel Jagannath (apparently this hotel is named after a Hindu sun god) and headed to the Calcutta airport to catch the plane for Shillong. We got off around the time listed on the itinerary and had a quick 1.5 hr flight to the airport which is actually 1 hour away from Shillong by car. Meghalaya is a beautiful part of India, in the highlands just north of Bangladesh, and below is a picture I took in front of the airport just after it rained.

Shillong Airport.JPG

It's pretty incredible how God works - I sat next to an elderly nun from Calcutta who was traveling to spend a month of the leave she gets every 3 years with her niece and nephews who live in Shillong. I talked with her on the flight and learned a lot from her about the area, and then helped her with her luggage and disembarking from the plane. She introduced me to her nephew when he arrived and they offered me a lift to Shillong, which I gladly accepted.

Along the way, her nephew John filled me in on some historical and political details of the area. It turns out that he is a local political figure very interested in the intersection of tribal and constitutional policy, and he knows a few of the people that I was hoping to get in touch with in the Khasi and Pnar communities. It was a great discussion and amazing to meet someone so well-connected in just my first hour in Meghalaya. Wow! I'll be getting in touch with him again once I get a SIM card for my phone.

I'm staying with my advisor's sister-in-law's family here in Shillong, and hope to connect with some Pnar speakers in the coming days, then head to Jowai and the Jiantia Hills at the end of the week to make more contacts. Today I also went to one of the local hot-spots, Cafe Shillong, which has great food and atmosphere. I'll be posting more about the town this week. It's been raining quite a bit for the last month, but is cool and peaceful - did I mention the northeast of India is beautiful?


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