Monday, November 22, 2004


We drive to the western gate of Kangla Fort. Dave is a little upset we are taking Les with us before sending him to the launch of their album. My schedule is screwed up.

But a walk through Kangla with Pabung Khelchandra right after the handover seems too historic to miss out on. Maybe it’s just me.

It is getting dark. We walk towards the Citadel. Pabung brings out his folder and shows us the drawing the Brits made of the original Western Gate. I am surprised the present one is an almost exact replica. I had always thought it was just another goofy attempt at a Manipuri architectural style. I don’t like it much now; I would not have liked it much then.

Pabung shows where the original walls stood. The King resided behind five walls, the Imphal River to his back. The entire Fort is a mile square. Good for a Mile Run I am thinking.

We walk past the original Royal Polo Grounds. It is littered from the handover ceremony the day before. Ranjana and I remark on the emptiness of it all. A few soldiers looked on curiously devoid now of their usual proprietary aggression.

We step on up to the Citadel. I take out one of the funny red balls Tamo Nara had brought for the baseball players. Teja, Les, Bonnie and I throw it around. The reality of the handover sinks in. It’s been a long time since 1891. To be able to throw a ball around the Kangla without fear of the British or the Indian Army stopping us. Now that's what I call ownership.

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