Just in favour of nocturnal life

Free Thinker *

Food Stall : 'Imphal Evenings' - A night plaza lined up on Kangla Pat road  :: 02 October 2017
'Imphal Evenings' - A night plaza lined up on Kangla Pat road on 02 October 2017 :: Pix - Shankar Khangembam

Recently an attempt has been made to restore night life (evening life) at least for a bit in the city of Imphal. There were huge turnouts in the weekends to enjoy the evening extravaganza (Night Plaza) with families and friends. Keeping in view the enthusiastic response it becomes quite obvious that people are so eager to have an enjoyable evening or outing.

Even at 10 pm people were pouring in to have something delicious or something exotic (doggy type) or some refreshing quenchers. Frankly speaking we have been missing the night life for almost a generation (3 decades). Those born in the 80's or 90's or in this new millennium may not know that there was a brisk night life before their arrival.

When we were young children we had the opportunity to enjoy the night life (not so long) in the City. Shops remained open till late in the evening. All the eating joints, restaurants, pharmacies, pan-cigarette dukans (shops) remained open till late night. The Cinema shows used to end around midnight. Our vegetable /fish stalls remained open till 9 / 10 pm.

Rickshaw pullers and Auto walas worked till the closure of movie theaters and market. The night was illuminated solely by the huge power generator at Keisampat just on the bank of Nambul River. Tube lights were used for lighting the streets. The Kanglapat road was indeed beautiful as we could see the tube lights along with the row of tall 'kaubilia' trees.

If the government or the local authorities issue an order for the market to remain open till 10/11 at night, the shop-keepers, the hoteliers, the hawkers, the vendors, the theatre proprietors, the pan wallas may treat it as an imposition. However, if they come together in volition and decide to stay late at night, we can certainly redeem the lost night life; their associations, unions and women-marketers come together and choose to hang around till late in the evening I firmly believe that gradually we will regain our good old days of having wonderful evenings .

The bars and pubs in London during the weekend evenings are so crowded that many drinkers are compelled to stand outside even in the cold, of course with a glass or a bottle in hand. Friday evenings and Saturday evenings are extremely crowded. But most of them drink responsibly and within limits. I don't know what will happen here if we open bars and pubs after quashing the dry status (wish to happen). Though we have a very long tradition of drinking since time immemorial we are yet to learn how much to consume.

I was told that in the 50's and 60's power supply was very scarce in the city. Today the electric/power supply in the city is up to the mark. We can easily effort to have a bright night life in the city; not only in the city but also in the suburbs. It may not be as bright as Paris which is perhaps the brightest city in the world but certainly we can easily have a luminous one.

A vibrant nightlife can turn our city into a business hub; it does generate a series of employment associated with numerous economic activities. In the Kanglapat 'Night Plaza' experiment we have seen hundreds of people minting thousands of rupees just in 3/4 hours in the evening simply by selling eatables and drinkables; in addition the lighting, the boating, the transportation (autos, rickshaws, taxis), the manufacturing and supply of grubs & drinks etc., mean business and money. Why can't we further promote and patronize it?

Besides providing an outing for eating and drinking we can also offer a cultural dimension to our evenings. By organizing muscical-nites, dance performances, drama shows, film festivals, folk-art program, the evenings can be made more sparkling and spiceous. Rocks & Pops for the youngsters, classical for the connoisseurs, dance & drama for the elders, folk songs/dance /music for lovers, fashion shows for the fashionables, Sumanglilas for all etc., will make the evenings more attractive and thrilling.

The Gandhi Memorial Hall, Jawaharlal Nehru Dance Academy Hall, the Roopmahal Theatre, Manipur Film Development Centre Auditorium, Bheigyachandra Open Air Theater, the Aryan Theater, Manipur Dramatic Union Hall, can be ignited with these cultural offerings.

There is another positive manifestation of the night life. People will be around in and around the city in the evening and of course in the late evenings too. If thousands of people are loitering around normal economic activities may also continue in the city. For instance the pan- kheini-cigarette shops, tea/coffee stalls, medical shops, general stores, even fruit/fish/vegetable vendors could easily run their business at night. Brisker the night better the business.

In the late 70's there was a marriage ceremony in my neighborhood. We were the groom's party. After the arrival of the bride at the residence of the groom at around 9.30 in the evening the father of the groom wanted to host an instant dinner for his friends and neighbours. Then he asked his younger brother to buy all the necessary items like fishes, vegetables, dal, cooking-oil etc., from the Imphal bazaar. Even at 10 pm all these stuffs were available as the bazaar remained open.

We were asked to call the Bamon of the locality for preparing the feast and while coming back we were also instructed to bring the fire-woods from the local dealer. By 10.30 all the requisites for the feast were in place. The party got over at around midnight. What I am trying to say is that market was open and functioning at 10 at night. People were moving around in the city and its suburbs even at the death of the night. It sounds nostalgic; but today we can make a sincere endeavor to regain our good old nights.

It is also felt that the police and security providers will willingly support the evening life. Perhaps they will be more than happy to have a busy night life because of innumerable advantages they are likely to have. Police on night duty may enjoy the nightly activities without participation (incentives will be there); but those off-duty can enjoy all the activities of the dark as others do.

Moreover the government may recruit more number of policemen and policewomen (battalions) to provide full security to the public and the bazaar people for doing rousing business at night. Again brisk and peaceful nights shall be an indicator of normalcy in the State. The impression so far created is "shutters down at 5/6 pm in the city and commoners are afraid of coming out at night". Now we need to show the world that we are as normal as they are.

If the people, the authorities and the stake-holders are ready to regain our pleasant and peaceful (not always) night life, that will be a blessing for both business and recreation. When we have a lively and beaming night at Imphal can other towns/bazaars of Lamka, Ukhrul, Tamenglong, Moreh, Bisnupur, Senapati, Chandel, Kakching be left far behind?

Meanwhile, if we can lift the prohibition (which is miserably failed) our night life will be more colorful, loud and frolicking; it will also trigger some specific economic activities like selling chicken-liver-fry, liver medicines, conducting liver-transplant (human), liver donation (selling /buying) etc. Believe me the night life plus legalized liquor life (giving more emphasis on the production, polishing & promotion of local brew) can easily generate enough employment more than the required 7.5 lac.

Don't call me immoral or unethical for this rational instigation when the people are more than willing and ground realities are fast changing. Laws & Rules must be amended accordingly.

* Free Thinker wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on November 07, 2017.

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