Wednesday, June 23, 2010

provincializing europe

With most of the group-stage matches of the current World Cup underway, a standout hard-to-miss is the resurgence of the Americas, Asia, and the Africas. While my circle of viewers that enliven each match inevitably puts me in a the seat of an "expert," I can claim none of its trappings as such. Nevertheless, we have all observed how the final round in this World Cup has really seen a levelling of the playing field. Previous pushovers have upped their game and now have to be counted as formidable rivals that could knock one out: Australia, South Africa, New Zealand,...even Korea DPR showed some flair against Brazil despite the eventual 7-0 thrashing at the hands of Portugal.

But more hard-to-miss were the traditional European powerhouses that fell really short of their mark. Last World Cup's finalists Italy and France lacked the creativity and skill to raise their game above their very pedestrian display of vapid football. France's in-house problems did not help their game either. England squeezed through to the knockout round but did it in fashionably English-football style with dollops of scrappy passes and unimaginative moves...YAWWWNNN! Slovenia, Serbia, and Greece have also fallen by the wayside.

Going by the trend, I am rooting for a winner from South America or Africa. Remniscent of Dipesh Chakrabarty's book with the same title as this post, europe no longer seems to define the standards of football in the sense that the global forum--such as is the World Cup--has to be thought of in terms of the peripheries rather than the center dominated by the West (the US team has improved but i don't think will move beyond the next stage). Hopefully India will be in one of the next editions of this global tamasha and significantly represented by its diversity [read: players from Mizoram--now that the 2006 XBox edition of the World Cup features Jerry Zirsanga].

Go Brazil!!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Just put in the final piece of the jigsaw. Bated breath––hope the pieces stick together but more importantly, hope the jigsaw sells! This collection of essays should soon be in print by the end of this year. Our publishers have already made the announcement, which seems to say that dye has been cast.

Here's the skinny on the book. Christianity came to India in the 1st, 4th or 18th century CE, depending on which tradition you take up. The bulk of its recipients were the no-bodies of "Indian" society hoping to reinvent themselves as the some-bodies. Not so! The no-bodies remained as such for the next two centuries and more. Over the last thirty years, the no-bodies came back with a literary vengeance. Flinging their pens with aplomb, they asserted their place in religious and social discourse in a move to dismantle the societal strait-jackets imposed on them. Since this initial surge, insiders and outsiders have looked back in critical retrospect; new vocabularies, emergent investments, and discursive trajectories are being explored to map out where this assertive stance might address itself in the twentyfirst century. Some of these arrogative explorations are catalogued in this collection of essays.

To toot my horn, my contribution to the collection was as a tribal. I also took the lead on the copy editing, proofreading, and compiling the index. But readers, especially my folks, might sense a slight tokenism in my inclusion as the sole other no-body. But then again, the focus of the book--and the conference from which this collection of essays is drawn--might not have much space to be more encompassing.

If you got the dosh and the!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

zomi nge zomia

For those with the time to indulge and the inclination to ideate, this lecture might be one that interests you and, more importantly, worth your time. In this lecture (runtime: 1hr, 17mins), James C. Scott, a professor at Yale U, previews his book, The Art of Not Being Governed (2009). The focus of his lecture is the idea of "Zomia," which accounts for hill folk that inhabit the upper elevations from northeast India down east to the coast of Vietnam. Drawing on Willem van Schendel's work on the subject, Zomia is theorized as the last few bastions of resistance in the shatter-zones of modern nation states.

James Scott's proposal for theorizing "Zomia" is informative in that it valorizes our folks's difference and helps make sense of some of what we observe as mundane. More importantly, it suggests a lateral vantage point from where particulars may be viewed. Hence, what we might percieve as an issue as peculiar to say a Mizo situation, Zomia suggests broad cultural parallels for that issue. Two instances might be helpful to sell this point.

*Commenting on religion, Scott observes, "Where, as occasionally happens, they do come to embrace the 'world religion' of their valley neighbors, they are likely to do so with a degree of heterodoxy and millenarian fervor that valley elites find more threatening than assuring(Art of Not Being Governed, 21)." With a missionary Christianity that was "foreseen" (Darphawka) and the popular currency of "last-days" religious and ethical templates, the wide frames of reference that Zomia provides might be worth a second thought. Could Mizo Christianity and its idiosyncrasies suggest the tensions of coming to terms with modernity of a colonial extract? Vanlalchhuanawma's recent Christianity and Subaltern Culture (2007) suggested so.

**Regarding oral histories of writing, Zomia stories share a striking parallel: the hill folks at one time had writing but lost it through their own improvidence or treachery (Art of Not Being Governed, 221). Our oral tradition notes that we did have alphabets on a parchment. We couldn't care less for it. A dog eventually ate the parchment and, in doing so, deprived the Mizo of a script. This theme is not so unique and recurs through many oral tradtions of other hill folk (Akha, Karen, etc.). Seen, however, through Zomia lenses, these oral traditions underscore post-literacy (rather than illiteracy) in that, "the absence of writing and texts provides the freedom to maneuver in history, genealogy, and legibility that frustrates state routines (220)."

The only preliminary caution is that the notion is, at face value, too large a metanarrative that more work will definitely be needed to highlight the variations and peculiarities of the Zomia folk. This is not so much a scraping down of theoretical structures as it is to take what resources we have and to push them further with our own work.

Postscript: what are we to make of the recent deplorable racial boycott? This is neither to condone a "crime" with verbal gymnastics nor to exonerate the tawdry response to an incident that is equally deplorable. Rather, insights from the notion of zomia are informative as they push us to rewrite our own stories not in blissful exclusion but with templates that are problematically inclusive (for instance "of-half-breeds-and-aliens"). Inarticulate xenophobia takes little to peer through fa├žades of religion or modern sophistication.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

healthcare...and then some!

The U.S finally pulled through a landmark bill that addresses its much pressing healthcare issues. I don’t understand the minute details of the bill but what I do glean from reports and news bytes is that the bill would place the government as a decisive guarantor and executor of basic health care. The bill itself has a long and polarizing history; previous attempts on reform were scuttled still-born by crafty maneuvers from healthcare industry lobbyist. But a determined President finally came through on his promise of change!

And change, one hopes, it will be.

One cannot help compare.

Out here, other than over-the-counter generic types, all meds are purchased only with a valid prescription signed off by registered doctor. To acquire the prescription, one needs to be evaluated by the doctor; the appointment itself could easily cost a cool $50. The only way to offset this cost would be to have health insurance for which one pays an annual premium. Even with this insurance, one would still pay something like $20 and the agency would cover the rest. Now this one is for the most basic check-up and prescription facility. Multiply the dynamics if one needed hospitalization or even surgery. For reference, a friend's son was hospitalized for a night and the charges rounded off to about $13000.00. Insurance kicked in to offset the cost.

Back home, an average family can, more or less, have access to these facilities. Quality may be abegging, waiting lines at the OPD may be long, but the basic healthcare needs are accessible. Doctors are integral components of the wider community (I still hope) rather than line-personnel in a healthcare industrial factory. Margins, I hope again, are determined by accessible and effective health services rather than corporate profits.

While not to suggest easy stereotypes in my comparison, I remember once when I fell short on my attendance in college. The only way I could enroll for the examinations that year was if I produced a medical report to validate the 30+ days I was absent. A very resourceful friend, in the same situation as I was in, took me to a rundown kiosk (!!!) near SRCC. On entering, we noticed the only thing without dust on it was the old doctor himself. Aged to a shriveled grey, he seemed to not have plied his trade for the better part of the last few decades.

“Ha beta, kya chahiye?” he asked.

“We need a medical report to make up for our attendance.”

“Achha, how much money do you have?”

We dug into our pockets and took out a few crumpled notes. “Sir, we have eighty rupees.”

“Achha, what sickness shall I give you?”

Both my friend and I did make it through the examinations that year!!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

why only a fly on the wheel?

T.H. Lewin recently got extended bytes on a web forum and what was intriguing about the discussion was the currency he commands more than a century after he left the Chittagong Hill Tracts in 1873. Rather than focus on the questions raised in that discussion, this posting briefly looks at what seems to be among the more accessible of his writings, A Fly on the Wheel, or How to Helped Govern India (1884). Written and published after Lewin's return to England, like Wild Races, this book was drawn from diary notes and personal letters from his time in the Chittagong Hill tracts.

FoW opens with Lewin as an eighteen year-old cadet in the service of the British East India Company’s expeditionary force sent to quell the Mutiny of 1857 and closes with his departure from those Chittagong Hill tracts about sixteen years later. Within this short period he moved from a Company officer to the Queen’s 104th regiment. Climbing the bureaucratic ladder rather effortlessly, he was appointed Superintendent of Hill tribes of the Chittagong Hill tracts in 1866, and this appointment was augmented within a few months to that of a Deputy Commissioner and Political Agent of the Hill Tracts of Chittagong and was moved from the 104th to the Bengal Staff Corps (191). The narrative details this progression and more importantly, how Lewin's maverick service to the British government went abegging. Most Mizo readers will identify with the terrain, landmarks, and events that embellish the narrative—more importantly how Lewin negotiated the release of Mary Winchester from the Howlong chiefs through his trusted friend Rutton Puia (var. Rothangpuia).

Why “Fly on the Wheel”? The book's title draws on the opening sections of Francis Bacon’s essay “Of vain-glory,” “It was prettily devised of Aesop; ‘the fly sat upon the axle tree of the chariot wheel, and said, What dust do I raise!’” A preliminary reading would suggest Lewin’s self-effacing insertion into a larger narrative of how Britain came to rule India and its “frontier” regions in particular. However, by the end of the book one gets the feeling that FoW is an attempt to air out some dirty laundry for having been denied the recognition that, in Lewin’s estimation, he deserved. “What is wanted here is not measures but a man. Place over them an officer gifted with the power of rule; not a mere cog in the great wheel of Government, but one tolerant of the failings of his fellow-creatures…Under a guidance like this, let the people by slow degrees civilize themselves. (Wild Races, 351)” Lewin seems to entitle himself as having fulfilled this standard without receiving the acknowledgement it deserved.

What is the value of “Fly on the Wheel”? On Feb 12, 1885, John Ruskin responded to the publication of the book by writing to Lewin, “I am beyond everything I can say interested in your book and in you, but I have a feeling that you have lowered the tone of it by making it…a hunting story book.” In a second response dated 10 March 1885, Ruskin writes, “Again, those cursed publishers are the pestilence of literature. They have made you destroy the dignity and simplicity of your book and robbed it of half its historical value.” Implicitly, one can read in these letters that the publishers had touched up the details for a wider audience. Does this compromise the integrity of FoW? What do we make of his first diplomatic venture to gain the trust of Rutton Puia, which he did by means “not quite regular” (FoW, 203, 204)? We have no way to prove which parts were spiced up and must leave that investigative project to any textual critic/analyst with the time and investment to decipher. Until such a time, we might as well let FoWstand on its own merit.

If one were interested in the issues broached above, Whitehead's Thangliena would be strongly recommended. Some interesting titbits I gleaned from it were:
- Lewin apparently had a child with Dari (var. Darthuami, Darthluangi). This child died soon after birth. In 1915, H. Lorrain even wrote to Lewin-now married and almost on his last breath- about Dari living in Lungsen village. Had Lewin become a White Mizo as the other inculturated "white Mughals"(Dalrymple) had?
- Lewin met up with Mary Winchester (Zoluti) much later in England. She was now Mary Innes Howie (nee Winchester)but Lewin didn't think much of her because she was "a stuck-up conceited little half-caste woman..." One wonders what Mary did to instigate her one-time liberator to such libelous estimates?

Some references:
T. H. Lewin, Wild Races of Southeastern India. London: Wm. H. Allen & Co., 1870.
John Whitehead, Far Frontiers: People and Events in North-Eastern India 1857—1947. Putney, London: BASCA, 1989.
John Whitehead, Thangliena: A Life of T.H. Lewin. Gartmore, Sterlingshire: Kiscadale Publications, 1992.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

parrying the other

Parry's account builds on previous works such as that of Shakespear (see previous post). Without doubt, these accounts preserve for us data that is informative and accessible where other such written sources were unavailable. Nonetheless, critical restrospection must delve beyond their face values to attempt—speculative, no doubt—at conjuring backgrounds that are broader, synchronistic, and analytical in order to account for the discursive regimes underlying their narrative constructions. Though sounding more esperanto than plainly communicative, such projects might inform and instruct the stories and narratives we make about both ourselves and our proximate "Others."

N. E. Parry, A Monograph on Lushai Customs and Ceremonies. Shillong: The Assam Government Press, 1928.

This 130-paged account of customs and cultural procedures dealing with folk in the Lushai district along with a glossary of colloquial terms replays the western knower-native as object binary. Parry is clear on why he undertakes this compilation: it will be of use to officers and chiefs engaged in the administration of justice in the district (Introduction). Precolonial social configurations were altered to accommodate allies in the Lushai wars. “Vacant” lands were allotted to such allies who then constituted a new set of landed chiefs in addition to the chiefs from precolonial times. Texted and readily accessible knowledge seemed necessary because of the reshuffling of land related practices and chieftaincy, their attendant privileges and also modes of restitution in cases of infractions on these privileges.

Although the title of the book suggests a compilation of the Lushais’s modes of social organization and structure, colonial agency is privileged and inscribed as the final arbitrator in the execution of administrative procedures. For instance, in describing the position and role of the chief, his authorization of a new hamlet requires ratification by the Superintendent (4), and also the prior requirement of the Superintendent’s permission when compelled to shift village sites owing to the exigencies of cultivation (5). Other customs and ceremonies documented include marriage customs, divorce, inheritance, sacrifices and feasts. In writing such varied and previously un-documented practices, the resultant written history is privileged with an ontological power to provide assumptions on how the real social and natural worlds are constituted; and hence may also be administered.

Reminiscent of what Bernard Cohn identified as the “historiographic modality”[Colonialism and It’s Forms of Knowledge, 5] in the colonial mode of knowledge production, the collection of data in Lushai Customs codifies and reinstitutes the ruling practices and customs of previously non-literate community. Effectively, the knowledge of the history and practices of the Lushai community provided the resources for building the colonial state.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

refracting "Tarmita's" vision

The second edition of “writings on writing” focuses on Col. Shakespear's (also called "Tarmita") wellknown work because it registers as an authoritative source text for kan pi pute len lai. Rev. Zairema credits the book as being the first, “chanchin kimchang…Kristian rin danin a pawlh viau hma thu a ni a, a ngaihnawm bik hle (Pi Pute Biak Hi. 2009, 2).” Amidst contemporary negotiations on what it means to be Mizo—blogsites, media, and academia providing some of the most heated debates—one often notices the invocation of kan pi pute hunlai both as an emotional anchor and/or rhetorical speaking point for what a Mizo “essence” might be. Despite increasing awareness of identity and cultural essence being highly negotiated and contested categories, Shakespear’s work continues to register as an important source material among others. So even as its reading is recommended, a reading against the grain would be more helpful to make sense of the constructions and contemporary implications of the linguistic baggage we inherited.

Lt. Colonel J. Shakespear, The Lushei Kuki Clans. London: MacMillan and Co., Limited, 1912.

Published after his transfer from the Lushai Hills, Col. Shakespear’s Lushei Kuki Clans provides one of the earliest writings about the inhabitants of the Chittagong Hill Tracts with sustained attention to parsing the cultural and linguistic intricacies of a formerly “unknown” people. The minute details and the intent of the book echo the emerging attempts in anthropological constructions of mythobars as was most famously outlined in J. G. Frazer’s The Golden Bough (1890). While noting affinities and also variations between Lushei and Kuki clans-the subjects of his monograph, he notes wider similarities with other Hill Tribes, for instance, in Major Playfair’s account of the Garos and Sir Charles Lyall’s account of the Mikir (xiv, xv). Colonial expansion was gradually opening up strange and inaccessible frontier worlds, and new forms of knowledge were being collected and meticulously recorded by colonial agents such as Shakespear. Discursive connections were strung across distant and often disparate landscapes in this effort to rein in these frontier parts. Seen through this geo-political lens, Lushei Kuki Clans thus lends itself to the problematic inscription of a people-their ways of life and thought-as objects of knowledge and rhetorical validations for colonial intervention.

The book is divided into two main sections. Section one is devoted to the Lushei clans and is richly embellished with details ranging from general observations on domestic life and structure to detailed descriptions of their cultural components including their religion, folklore, and encoding the various clan members. Section two details what Shakespear calls the “non-Lushei clans,” peoples he encountered when he transferred further north to Manipur. He expends much ink in tracing the genealogical histories of the various clans via clan etymologies, folklore, and cultural practices. The last chapter and the appendix present an interesting triglot to account for the linguistic morphology and genealogical connections between the various Lushei and non-Lushei clans. Additional information provided include a glossary, maps, and photographs (unlike lithographs employed in earlier publications).

While many commentators note the silence of the observed, Shakespear acknowledges the voice of his subjects (e.g. 13, 62, 66, 58). However, despite Shakespear’s acknowledgment, these native voices emerge only on terms dictated by the speaking western subject. For instance, “An old lushai once asked me why I was troubling myself about family and branch names, on my explaining that hoped to make a complete list of them he muttered, ‘Can you count the grains in that basket of rice?’ and turned from me to the zu-pot. (42)” The native voice ridicules the elaborate surveys and censuses undertaken by the white administrators as if to talk back at the new forms of knowledge being collated and constructed about it's self. Note how the ridicule is rendered innocuous by immediately relegating the speaking voice to the zu-pot (rice beer), zu being a trope that reinforces the discursive construction of lethargic and enervated natives. The issue of the speaking voice underscores the problem of observing, writing, as they are situated in power-knowledge frames of a colonial dispensation.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

writings on writing

These next few posts are summaries of some of the earliest extant texts on the modern state of Mizoram. Rummage through contemporary (read: academic) works on the same geo-political area attempting to erect some historical perspective to their narratives and you’ll see these titles crop up constantly. There seems to be the instinctive accordance of privilege to written/texted narratives as stable histories—histories that seem to unlock how peoples are constituted and made to tick. Yet these very texts are culturally located within wider geo-political templates of particular time periods. Hopefully, these summaries will instantiate more critical responses on why we prize such texts. The selection is not entirely fastidious and there will definitely be others that should have been covered. Give me some time…or better still, link me to your own take on your own list.

The first on my list is one of the earliest works by one who we favorably remember as "Thangliena" (var. Thangliana)

T. H. Lewin, Wild Races of the South-Eastern India. London: Wm. H. Allen & Co., 1870.

Written in the style of the emerging ethnographical accounts that bridged the gap between the metropolitan center and the frontiers of the Empire, Wild Races sets out to introduce to its readers (Europeans/British) the “races of people of whom but little is known, and whose habits and customs have never been described. (1)” The accounts are drawn from daily entries “simply noted down” as Lewin heard “tales, traditions, or striking customs that fell under my observation in the course of my wanderings among them. (3)” As to why he compiled his notes in order to highlight these erstwhile “unknown” peoples, Lewin’s reasons may be summarized in what he later refers to as a true “Liberal,” whose cardinal dogma is the belief in the perfectibility of the human race (Fly on the Wheel 144; Wild Races 3, 4). In style, the three hundred and fifty pages of Wild Races follow what David Spurr theorized as “rhetorical modes” of colonial writing about other people as objects of knowledge.

Of the three sections of the book, part one surveys the land and the description is peppered with topographical details including climate, soil conditions, produce, rivers, cultivation, and so on. Section two starts as an exercise in sorting, classifying, and describing the ethnographical observations into neat and accessible categories. The hill tribes are categorized as “Khyoungtha” or dwellers on the river banks who are predominantly of Buddhist persuasion, and “Toungtha” or dwellers of the hills who are, “more purely savages than the Khyoungtha (72).” The section continues to describe the Khyougtha: their social habits, religion, dress, origins, and so on. In section three of the book, the Toungtha category is further subdivided as subject tribes under British administration (the Tipperah and Kumi tribes), tribes paying no revenue but subject to British influence (the Bungee and Pankho tribes), and entirely independent tribes (the Looshai and Shendu tribes). The description of the Toungtha that follows employs the categories employed in the description of the Khyoungtha, and are often employed to contrast the two. In contrast, the Toungtha are best captured in their independence and savagery, tropes that are employed and constantly reinforced in the descriptive exercise to provide a reasonable cause for the introduction of British mediated “civilization.” The closing quarter of the section accounts the unsuccessful expedition into Shendu territory and Lewin’s near death encounter.

In the concluding section of the book, Lewin assesses the stakes in further contact and cultural transactions with these "wild" races. “Civilization” seems to be a catch phrase he employs in this assessment. However, he is also informed by Thomas Carlyle’s The French Revolution, A History (1837) whose dictum—ubi homines sunt, modi sunt (347)—seems to inflect Lewin’s assessment. Imposed civilization as was practiced in other parts of the Empire would not improve but only exterminate these wild races (344). Favoring a more conscious but nevertheless paternalistic tack, Lewin suggests that further interactions be geared towards administration of the hill tracts for the, “well-being and happiness of the people dwelling therein,” adding that “Civilization is the result and not the cause of civilization. (351)” Part of Lewin’s vision is that the people will gradually civilize themselves. One leaves the pages with what the socio-political implications might be in naming a phenomenon as "civilization" and the power relations instigating the urge to civilize.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Funeral TBD!

It’s been a rather somber week. A phone call from my brother roused me as I was about to segue into my second REM sleep phase for that night. Dreamily aware of the ominous odd-hour phone call, I hesitated as I grudgingly answered the call. A close family friend had just passed away after an unsuccessful surgery to treat a cancerous stomach already in its terminal phase. To add to the pall creeping in, a cousin’s grandson also did not make it through what I gathered was a freak but fatal accident while playing with some friends. A five-year old life nipped in the bud.

Another short burst of activity on the phone. This time a text message. It read, “Thanks for your prayers. Mom passed away. Funeral TBD.” My colleague had left a voicemail saying that he had to leave on an emergency to be with his mom. I managed to catch him while in transit on his way home. He gave me no details but the tone of his voice spoke more than an elaborate run-down of the situation. His text message came in the day after this brief conversation on the phone. I was busy dispatching the news to our circle when I thought I’d find some distraction on the television—maybe a sappy reality show or a dose of celeb-gossip pulp on TMZ. Flicking randomly through the channels, I found myself stuck on a news channel flashing computer generated maps interspersed with hazy handy-cam images; some of the first images emerging from earthquake-ravaged Haiti.

Being far removed from the immediate scenes of loss, we might have been padded from the raw pathos of encountering the irretrievable presence of a loved one. We dust up memories to try and re-animate that blank spaces left behind. Remembrances only conjure up fleeting apparitions that merely dissipate like the trace of breath on a mirror. What audacity to ask of death, “where is thy sting?”

Monday, January 4, 2010

a time to cast away

Two-in-ones, VHS players, pagers, OHP-s…these are a few of my favorite things that, unlike raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, no longer figure on my must-have list. With the turn of a new decade and its ever expanding list of new gadgets and gizmos out in the market, one gets to look back and see the left behind-s as we chug along this train of progress. The Huffington Post put up an interesting photo-essay on “12 Things that Became Obsolete this Decade” with a plug for readers to vote on the list of obsoletes. I thought I’d chime in on a few.

Calling: Text messages, sexting (graphic picture messages), twitter, facebook, and the list goes on. Communication by way of electronically generated words seems to have replaced orally enunciated expressions, OMG! Text message numbers in the US doubled over in 2008. Texters have evolved. I remember some of the hrat lutuks in Bangalore who could even thumb in a complete and coherent message blind! And then the text lingo that I don’t think I will ever master: LOL, LMAO, LSHITIPAL (laughing so hard I think I peed a little)—I think a hearty mutual laugh would be better. Texting is definitely instant and convenient but I’ll stick to calls. Hearing the live voice of the person I want to communicate with just makes it a lot more human. So, call me:(800)768-HUNK!!

Dial-up: Yup this is definitely obsolete. I’m glad we transitioned quickly to DSL, broadband, wifi, and other more efficient accesses to the web. Those crackles and buzzes before you finally hooked up online only to have your patience tested once again as the “this page cannot be displayed” slowly evolved on your screen—uh, uh!

Encyclopedias: Students in classroom settings seem to have all the subject info down pat. One need only look closely to their laptop screens to see a wiki page feeding their pretensions of knowledgeablity! With the amount of information easily and freely available on the internet, the printed encyclopedias are definitely on their way out. Their only sustained currency would be libraries and old fogies such as I who still prefer to leaf through time worn pages of printed material. Moreover, because of the anyone-and-everyone-add-content set up on sites such as wiki, I'd rather take my chances with peer-reviewed editions.

CDs: I have never bought music online (amazon, itunes, etc) but have quite a music collection; thanks to a friend who has broadband and frequents the bittorrent website! Paaji ‘s Pyramid store in Palika Bazar was my regular go-to for recorded cassettes and videos. Since the webble burst, he’s also switched to selling cell phones and other more current gadgets and gizmos. I was told that music in Mizoram now premieres directly via music videos on local channels. The underlying idea seems to be copyrights and royalties, which I’m all for. My point though: running with a clunky cd-player in hand is so 2000 and late!!

Landline phones: Collateral damage of dial-up’s exit!!

Handwritten letters: these have definitely been replaced by emails, text messages, phones, skype, and other modes of communication. I do not recall the last time I wrote or received a handwritten letter but the excitement while eagerly waiting for the postman to bring one was worth it.

Film/film cameras: Load roll, shoot all 36 shots, print, scan, convert to jpeg, upload as profile pic...really? The digital camera made photography and all its applications so much easier and convenient. It also democratized what purists would call an art form so that every Thanga, Kungi, and Remi can now wax eloquent about aperture, composition, angle, and ISO.

The list could go on. One also notices that the common denominator in this list is technology and the rapid advances it makes/effects- instant, convenient, and efficient being their USP. I reread this post and realize that some of the categories/terms I use could themselves be outdated. So even as i hats off to y'all who bring out these innovations, please dumb them down a little so that tech-challenged folk such as I, can be more up-to-date than have to evolve only in time to be obsolete all over again.