Monday, October 25, 2004

Ima is in a rage. They tore down the old Telegraph Building where Idhou Sanakhya was coronated. They were clearing the squatters to make way for the new Arts Center, we heard from the delegation of evicted women who showed up this morning. She got on the horn with the Director of Arts and the Deputy Chief Minister who apparently is calling the new Minister of Arts over. Some Commie boor apparently.

I am now taking this opportunity to urge her to call for the formation of a Landmarks Commission. Ima likes the info byte that Jackie O started the American one when Grand Central was in danger of being torn down. Was it when she was in the White House?, she asked. I said I didn’t think so; that it was after JFK had died. This insight into Jackie seemed to please her immensely.

Now she will call a press conference. Better to intro with this than Imasi Tombiyaima’s Ward in the Civil Hospital.

On a more savory note, Imo came by and we talked meals for my friends. All traditional dishes presented Western style: protein center stage, on center plate, if you will, and rice as a starch dish. We figured there are 5 basic techniques: phutpa, boiling; nganba, steaming; yaiba, grilling; ngouba, sautéing or stir frying; louba, roasting and taoba, frying. We will offer three of these per meal, with a soup thrown in. Oh and I think cooked fruit is a Meitei specialty. I told Imo we should publish the recipes as a book, or online at the very least.

Too bad Madhur was so rude, not returning my call after all I set up for her retrospective. At her request too. She would have enjoyed the food. But it is just as well or it might become just another regional variety of “Indian” food.

I can’t have Indians with their usual outlook towards Manipur in the group. I know it sounds racist but it would run counter to what I am trying to do with this Field trip: start to get the Meitei to say who they are to the world, with the minimum of some other culture’s interpretation. I am having a helluva time steering the Indiawallahs in the group away from what they already know about India. But how do I get to present the Manipur I want to? Maybe it exists more in my head than in reality. Like what Go Takamine said to Mani and me about his Okinawa: No, it’s not at all like that; my films show the Okinawa of my imagination.

It is so crucial to prep for globalization now – do we have like perhaps 20-30 years for this? I said to Ragini we could do some fun things during our lifetimes. She’s the best.

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