Déjà vu

Aheli Moitra


Till couple of years back, there used to be an under-the-ground dance club in Dimapur that went by the name ‘Pebbles.’ Crowded and smoky at all times, it was not easy to carve a way through the crowd to enter the floor where the who’s-who of Dimapur gathered to spend bundles and access prohibited pleasures.


Even as that shut, for reasons that continue to raise hushed discussions among old-timers, a new place has sprung up in Dimapur. Just as crowded and smoky once the night advances, the multi-colour-illuminated dance floor, with the who’s-who of Dimapur swinging on it, creates only one feeling this holiday season—Déjà vu. The owners obviously got this irony when they named the venture thus.


The Dimapur Night Carnival from where the debauchery began last week—before ending at Déjà vu—was no less the stuff of nostalgia and fun. While the stalls became more symmetric this year with the involvement of several private functionaries that joined hands with the state, the joys on offer serenaded children, youth, adult and elderly alike. Once the mud and grime of the first two days (thanks to the rain) was out of the way, even the broken road began to seem less daunting. Why this stretch of road, the revered Supermarket area, never been repaired despite being an important entrepreneurial hub for the people of Nagaland?


Stalls set up at the Dimapur Night Carnival make most of their profit from selling local fermented brews. Accompanying these are kholar and meat (from whole snails to liver and intestines) treats that convert the Carnival into a delicious fare—to the dismay, however, of a friend who has always preferred vegetarian food, and has recently turned teetotaler. While his wife and children gorged on sausages and attempted to break a steel glass house with a tennis ball, he was itching to leave. There was nothing for him to consume!


But, let’s face it, meat and brews sell, as well as the karaoke and gambling games that follow. Once in a year, the people (all people, not just the rich) of Dimapur can forget the battered urban conditions they have to live in, and come together in heady celebration. Entrepreneurs use the expertise they have gathered through generations, through innovation or through Google to set up stall this time of the year. Many families, that have no other means of earning or employment for the rest of the year, make some money during the annual carnival to get them by through Christmas and New Year. Their children, often laughed at by other children in school for wearing old clothes, have the opportunity to get that new shirt, shoe and a pair of jeans that integrates them into this new society. Their parents pay parts of their debts accumulated over years through these earnings.


As the year ends, many of us are left with moral questions, both personal and political. Collective celebration gives us the small window to transcend these questions before we get back to reflection. For, when 2018 hits us, we can begin the process of new actions and go beyond the remnants and nostalgia of the past year. Beyond Déjà vu.


Merry Christmas! From moitramail@yahoo.com