07 May, 2021

All The Unused Betel Nuts

Despite, or perhaps because of, the wealth of subject matter, Che dissolves into a confusing and inconsistent read.

All The Unused Betel Nuts

Kishalay Bhattacharjee’s Che in Paona Bazaar carries the mythic connotations of Bruce Chatwin’s In Patagonia. The same sense of embarking on an adventure to a place little-known and less-travelled. Where the author is your eyes and ears, and your trusty guide. The similarity, however, ends there.

For many, Manipur, a state in north-east India, is a terrifying conjuror of irrepressible and irrefutable administrative and governmental failures. A place so indelibly marked by internal conflict and violence that all hope is frail and shrunken—like the image of Irom Sharmila, starving herself in protest of the inhuman and barbaric Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFPSA), imposed, off and on, on her home state for decades. Yet, as Bhattacharjee’s book reminds me, I am falling prey to cliche. For Manipur is all that and so much more.

Bhattacharjee writes from a special vantage point. As former resident editor of NDTV (Northeast), and years of living and working in the region, he gained special access to people, landscape and...

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