11 minutes, 57 seconds
Premiered: 22nd May 2024
Filmed: May 2024

This is Part 17 of Edward Reib's "Travels" series, entirely made from footage of his travels beginning in November of 2017, and continuing up to this day, and beyond.

We open with the view out the window from the cab from Shillong Airport to Shillong. Dead Can Dance’s “Mushin” accompanies. Two mannequins at Don Bosco Museum dressed in the attire of the indigenous people of the region carry us into contemplation of the ghosts in these woods.

As suddenly as the British occupied the region we are in a church, and the music has changed to John Michael Talbot’s “Hiding Place.” It’s the old Anglican Church they built at the center of what they called “The Scotland of the East,” no doubt having seen the natural beauty as well as the lifestyle and the patterns the locals wore reminiscent of the plaid of those last descendants of the ancient Celts to their north, back home.

As suddenly as a young Otto Hopfenmüller joined the party a few decades later bearing Roman Catholicism to save them from these heretical Protestants, we are at the big blue Catholic church which now stands near the English one, flashing halfway through the fourteen stations to the Trattoria near the center of the Police Bazar where a cross in Christmas lights adorns the ceiling. Then, we're back at the blue church. Priyal is there, and the Dead Can Dance returns.

An old house by a water tank, some street art under a walk-over, and many trees. Graffiti philosophy, Priyal covers the lens. I assume a tagger’s signature, and the road in Lachumiere leading from Don Bosco Square back to our AirBnB. The view out the window of Omega’s Café, a hip street as can be found outside of any college, but in this case high school juniors and seniors, “higher secondary” it’s called. Saint Anthony’s, and it’s raining.

Tube TVs of yester-century, yester-millennium, beside the garbage, under the rain, some modern wabi sabi. Your humble protagonist walks wearing his new pink denim jacket down the familiar street carrying a frog umbrella

A Zomato driver rides the elevator up to the KFC at the mall. I say mall, it’s a store called “Trends” and a KFC, and a few kiosks. It has the potential to be a mall, a small mall, one day.

The view outside of taxis and umbrellas in the Centre. A graffiti devil.

Then, the road to Shillong Peak, where we’d soon find out no foreign tourists are allowed. Cut briefly back to Police Bazar, where the rain has come down hard knocking out the power..

Soon we are at Elephant Falls, and the falls drown out the music. Eventually we are at Dew Drop In (puns) and we see the view by day, and by night. By night, the green lights of India’s first glass Mosque are visible.

We walk over a bridge high above a stream, then a narrow foot-path through the woods. “Somewhere In Time” starts playing, as Priyal walks with her umbrella. The viewer might assume the song is romantic, but a minute or so into the Don Bosco Museum, we suspect it might be sad. For even as Christopher Reeve can never again return to the past to find Jane Seymour before she becomes Susan French, so too we can only see the older Shillong here in the museum, as preserved and presented by The Church.

The neighbors of the North Eastern states, the local creation story involving a tiger, a tree, a mountain. The faces of the many ancient tribes, and the tools they used to fish, to carry, to shield the rain, and to make saké. The song fades out, and The Church’s narrative fades in: Innocent Jesuits came, the locals threatened them with spears. Then, a miraculous vision, and they all put on Harry Potter looking school uniforms and lived happily ever after. Mother Teresa was there, and John Michael Talbot played the guitar again.

But soon the tribal clothing of the local ghosts returns, along with the music.

We walk down a hundred steps in South Shillong today, from Lumsohphoh to Laban, the music stops, and all we see are trees.

The road back to the airport, the plane to take us home. Though we are now far from that place, the music remains.

Click to Watch Part 17 "Shillong" on Youtube

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