TODAY -

Old Lambulane, Imphal, was a trend setting locality; once...

Lunminthang Haokip *



Pride of the Old Lambian: "Owner's pride and neighbours' envy." It was the old Videocon ad that sold the branded TV like hot cakes, several decades ago. Social icons of the 1960s and 1970s thought ditto on OL. "To the backblock settler, Old Lambulane is as developed as Delhi is to us".

This thought-provoking remark came from none less a personage than the highbrow bureaucrat, L Gangte, IAS, who grew up in and had known the by-lanes of Old Lamb (OL) like the back of his palm. Thanks to the Lambus of the British Raj who had the foresight to found a colony exclusively for their ilk right in the heart of Imphal town, scions of successive generations of Old Lamb-ians had almost always been jet-set trend-setters.

The Beatles Clones: Music was OL's forte. Its fame soared to peak performance in the sixties which undoubtedly was the golden decade for the envied enclave. One remembers with a twinge of nostalgia the heart-touching chart-topping numbers of "Silanki le aloiho (inclusive of Paocha)". Fans lapped up their kinda fair. Romance was in the air.

They used to funk out in punky fashion: Drain-pipe pants, collar-up shirts, leather jackets, and Beatle shoes to match Elvis-inspired hair-style were the fads of the day popularized to crazy heights by Magnetoz, Imphal's answer to the Liverpool boys.

Mangcha, Lulun, Jack and Lienchungnung- together they created magical music and rocked the stage with Beatle's and CCR hit-numbers. They rewrote fashion and style. Were they copied ? But no local pop-group could cast a shadow on their larger-than-life image.

The Unsung Strummer: When Magnetoz faded out, whizzed in Kaikho like a whip of fresh air right from the beaches of exotic Goa. With a guitar in hand and a country-song on his lips, Kaikho's off-beat street-corner humming was a hit everywhere and common-folks loved to mob him. A genius in strumming and plucking, Kaikho's journey to popularity had its genesis in Goa's hippie-culture, which unfortunately, became his nemesis to an early grave.

Brawn Age: Then came the brawn age. Long before insurgency made its maiden appearance in the hills and valleys of this State, terror reigned in Old Lamb Trailing fear, Jail road was every rickshaw-puller's nightmare. And that had nothing to do with Central Jail.

Instinctively influenced by the ultra wild-west, muscle-flexing toughies saw to it that their well-trained fists landed on the chin of any bugger who dared to flaunt a proud look in the vicinity of their locality.

One couldn't put the blame entirely on the scandalous ruffians. The mini-skirted and pencil-heeled 'bindaas' "Shirleys" of the time would settle for nothing less terrible.. The deadly long-haired mobiker, Hemong, was the kingpin in the OL-centred Brooklyn-type gang-warfare; and Hatneiting, the queen-bee.

Big Boots: It's to their, credit that several top-job civil servants slid out of the slippery cesspool of Old Lamb-culture. T Kipgen (former CS Goa), SL Singson, IAS (conferred), Sehkho Kipgen, IFS, TL Kuki, IAS, L Gangte, MCS-topper (1st MCS batch) conferred IAS and Letkhogin Haokip, IAS, were and are the coloured feathers in OL's cap.

Most of their contemporaries went the ABCD (America-born confused desi) -way in the sense that they all ended up as LBCB (Lambulane-born confused bumpkins). They were neither Lambian nor rustic. But the above mentioned stars of the charmed administrative galaxy had the tenacious sobriety and propriety to persevere in studies, despite the distractions, and excelled in their pursuits.

Basking In Past Glory?: That some of them, later, became too big for their boots was, of course, another story. But the above mentioned stars of the charmed administrative galaxy had the tenacious sobriety and propriety to persevere in studies, despite the distractions, and excelled in their pursuits. That some of them, later, became too big for their boots was, of course, another story.

The Star Performer: TL Kuki, for one, briefly enjoyed 'superstardom' in Civil Service like Rajesh Khanna did in Bollywood. But after the honey-moon with power, his super-downfall in the latter years was equally dramatic as Kaka's.

He lived life king-size and died like a dethroned beleaguered monarch. For all his weaknesses, he was one of OL's gutsy street-fighters. Once in DU, he humbled a huge fellow in arm-wrestling. "He was six-two in height and I, five-two" quipped the chatak-patak-built glib-tongued Kuki.

Witty Oldies : Among OL's home-grown mandarins, P Gangte, IPS and LS Thangjom, IAS (I Am Superior ?) deserve mention; one for his super-active social presence and another for his super-egoistic individual defiance. The former shifted dwelling place but remained an NRO (Non-resident Old Lambian) at heart. The latter built a palatial house in OL but isolated himself as a RNO (Resident non-Old Lambian).

There are people who think that LS Thangjom could be one of Asia's proudest men. But I saw an endearing method in his pride. He's no more with us. May his soul rest in peace in Bible-land. Some of his witty observations like "CCpur District Council operates in back-gear", or "In many offices, the only active section is the Accounts section" are simply immortal.

Urbane Facelift: From a nondescript settlement of mud-walled and thatch-roofed huts in the distant past, Old Lamb had gradually gained status as a crowded near-posh, colony if not for its slum-like sanitation. Literacy, life-style and purchasing-capacity had a steady growth in proportion to the high-rise buildings. Worldly prosperity, however, had never been an indicator for spiritual advancement.

God doesn't think as man does. "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways (Isaiah 55:8)". To the citizens of Laodicea, the booming trading town, Jesus said, "Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing' and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked — (Rev. 3:17)".

Great Expectations : God gave so much to OL. But what did OL give God back in return ? Generations of socially-hyperactive and spiritually-speculative young folks who seek first the kingdom of self-will ? Crooners who wouldn't sing songs of praise to save their lives ? Baptized but un-chastised believers who can scarce tolerate one another ? Neighbours living in islands of ivory-tower who say 'hello' to each other, perhaps, once in a year ? Church-members who derive sadistic pleasure in defying welfare resolutions ?

Official Colony?: Old Lamb is located back to back and wall to wall with the State Secretariat complex. No wonder, we have a good number of grey-minded white-collar official lot who call the shots in ecclesiastical plots. Does that factor account for emergence of Pulpits that honour men more than God ?

Or guys who attend Church-meeting only twice in a life-time—(child) dedication-day (his) and on the day of (second?) marriage? We must pray much for the by-products of the incorrigible system who get up at dawn, sip liquor as break-fast, skip lunches, get bowled over by the alcoholic kick, and kick the bucket before hitting half-a-century, leaving behind stumped families in which women are compelled to bat ?

God Seest Us: We may be born again and again and again but, we'll gain unrestrained brownie points with God and move heaven in our favour only when we seek His will in all things outside studies, marital match-fixing, job-hunt, Church leader/elder appointment, choice of career, finalisation of spiritual meetings etc. He alone can foresee the future, "Declaring the end from the beginning .. (Isaiah 46:10)". We can find God's will by random opening of the Bible after passionately ponderous prayer.

Discovery of Ignorance: A dithering Christopher Columbus did exactly that and God gave him Isaiah 40:22 "He that sitteth upon the circle of the earth...", through which he came to know that the earth was round. It helped him discover America. Against the warning in Prov. 3:5, David once, in a moment of weakness (I Sam. 27:1), "leaned on his own understanding" and disaster struck Ziklag, "and their wives, their sons, and their daughters had been taken captive (I Sam. 30:3)",

But he repented and sought God's will in verse 8 and in verse 18, "So David recovered all". We too can restore everything we lost possession of while sojourning outside the will of God if we go by the Scriptural rules. The only way to salvage OL's image is to produce many new age Civil Servants.

Forgive and Forget : To give back love for hatred is the greatest revenge. It's ingrained in human nature to harbour secret bitterness against a wrong done or a snide remark made decades ago. We try to forget but the forgetfulness re-emerges as a stronger grouse. Therefore, to be at peace with ourselves and our adversaries, Christ prescribed an affordable remedy, "Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you (Mt 5:44) ".

This is about the most demanding will of God. It isn't easy to do; but if you can, you'd conquered your heart. Foul-mood is gone from your face for ever like summer is from Ooty and 'bundh is from Old Lamb.'

The Victory Of The Forgiver : Recently in South Africa, a Christian lady's husband and only son were butchered by a wicked Police Inspector. The guilty cop was produced in Court. The Magistrate enquired of the bereaved widow in the witness box as to what punishment she wanted for the murderer. You know what she said ? "My lord, I had lost the two persons dearest to my heart.

Now I have no one to love in this world. The Bible taught me to forgive my enemy. I want to hold and hug the killer of my husband and son to show that I love him truly. Let him come to my house twice in a month. I will feed him. I am ready to serve him".

Stunned Silence: The Court was shocked to silence. And the house came down in tears singing in unison, "Amazing grace, how sweet the sound…". Mrs Gladys Staines said almost the same thing after the merciless live burning of her husband and two minor sons. He Christ-like attitude sent touching waves of revival across the Christian world. In the unintended bargain, she got her name written down in gold in circles the annals that count.

Repaint In Love: Old Lamb is a mixed residential colony now. A new imposing 7-storey hotel will soon be the elegant landmark for this old settlement of Angrezi- ka- zamana-ka-Lambus. It's a challenge for Gen-next to improve the civic amenities and the overall look and outlook of the once 'looked up' downtown semi-official elitist haunt.

We the present residents, once in a while, can meet and hammer out ideas to repaint our place of permanent stay In Love: Yes friends, when we take revenge, we stoop down to the hated person's level. But when we forgive, we operate several notches above his level of being. Let us rebuild Old Lamb by using the brick of love, the cement of Christian fellowship and refurbish its tarnished image with the paint of the will of God.

It will be in the fitness of things to apply Lord Tennyson's line, "The Old order changeth yielding place to New."

New LYU: Critics taunted LYU –Lambulane Youth Union –with derogatory terms like L-Vai-Ju or League for youthful upswing. Let us resolve to turn the table. With God on our side, we sure can make LYU Loyal Youth Upkeep. Amen


* Lunminthang Haokip wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is an IAS (Retd)
This article was webcasted on October 01 2022 .



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