Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Different Strokes

I was considering a polemic on the nation-state and its component parts, and the myth we term unity even as we ignore its inconsistencies and violence. Rivetting eh?

But I read this first thing in the morning and I think it says more, and rather, something else. Do go read Vivek Menezes' piece, "Bringing it All Back Home (To Shillong)" on 3quarksdaily.

An excerpt:

The story of western music in the North East of India starts with the church, more precisely with one very unusual missionary from Wales named Thomas Jones.

In 1841, the young Weshman clambered up into the Khasi hills from the opposite direction from the one we had taken along the Guwahati-Shillong highway. At that time, the capital of Assam was the ancient Khasi stronghold of Sohra (Cherrapunjee), and this is where Jones headed after a long boat ride from Calcutta, up the Hooghly and the Sunderbans to Sylhet far below the tribal highlands.

Thomas Jones is pure paradox. He belonged to a rigorous and conservative missionary order, but never converted anyone in his years in the Khasi hills. Eventually, he was considered disreputable by his own order, which expelled him, and he died in a kind of disgrace in Calcutta, where his tomb lay abandoned until the Khasis came looking for it.