TODAY -

Jaiszz Tour de Manipur - Spring Festival, 2011

Ningthoukhongjam Haraba *




Picture Credit :: Deepak Shijagurumayum



Band RainBow Pao – Oriental Pumpkin
Jaiszz Tour de Manipur - Spring Festival, 2011
Four Gijs Sessions

Fri' April 15: Katumai: 'Kuki Naaga' Hills, Manipur'
17:00 hrs – 19:30 hrs
Music Gospel – Biblical – Baptismal – Love DanceAble
Sat' April 16: Tampa Hotel, Imphaal, Manipur'
8:00 hrs – 21:30 hrs
Music Jazz, Country, Pop, Fusie
Mon' April 18: Ngarungphung Village Enroute (4) Ukhrul
Music, Haldian, Chilly Pork Pieean, FishBonian
April 19: Ukhrul – On From Yangangpokpi
Music Jazz 'N' Folk, Gurusikh – Etudiant


The RainBow Band..... 4 GigEssions.....call 'em jams, call 'em dancessions..... Baby
R 'n' B' s real fashion – not disabled;
The Rainbow Pao Band heading for its Land of Golded Diamonds;
Land spirit – body –soul;
Heading to orgasiate, even middlingly opiate new ground;
Heading for partyless amalgamations of Tribe – Caste – Nations.
No congress – commie zulum.....
No Rashra cricketing chooa – chooee patti – mullam for these aberations.....
Aberrations gone wrong ad – nauseum.
The RainBow Pao Band...Gospel – Biblical – Baptismal – LoveDanceAble!

- Rainbow Pao


It was one fine morning like any other day. I got a call from Sunil that we will be on tour and I will be singing for our band, Placid Dreams. He asked if I can make myself free. I was already bored with the monotony of my daily chores and I thought this is the break I badly needed. He told me the Oriental Pumpkins Event is producing the Jaiszz Tour de Manipur – Spring Festival, 2011A.D., an event by Band Rainbow Pao and there will be four Gig Sessions at Katumai, Imphal, Ngarunphung and Ukhrul on 15th, 16, 18th and 19th April, 2011. I Agreed and with only few days left, the band had some few practice sessions and I got myself busy preparing for the tour.

The day was 15th April, 2011, the heavy rain last night was giving a feel of an impending rain, unpredictable as this Manipuri rain was. I was really excited to go on tour as part of the band, Placid Dreams with some of the best musicians of Manipur, and a little intimidated I was, by their experience.

Anyway, we hit the road for Katumai, Senapati and we started late around 12' noon, trying to get everyone and everything on board. The bus was filled with people and instruments and gadgets and luggage and tents and sleeping bags.. Phew Ok, it was full.

There was R.K. James - Managing Director of Oriental Pumpkins and the brain behind this Tour, Naga folk singer - Guru Rewben Mashangva, Babush Santana, Laura Santana, Leslei Faleirro and Roy Thomas of Rainbow Pao band from Delhi, Tei Zuali - the Lushai Singer from Mizoram, members of Placid Dreams - Ringo Golmei, Vivek Chongtham, Nanao Sapam, Sunil Loitongbam, Abow Ningthemcha and me, the beauties from Wungon Village – Chon Chon, Joycee, Seema, Sheela, Ayur, Remeiwon, Ashim, Zaahemlu, Oriental Pumpkins Team - Shankar, Dinesh, Deepak Shijagurumayum, Akee Sorok, Biju (Raju) and others. We heard about the African Singers – Fongang Menzepo Kem Brian and Nakkomo Jacquiline Valerie having problems with their visa and getting stuck at Imphal Airport. We were feeling bad to leave them behind.

We headed straight to Senapati, except for the brief halt at Sekmai. When we reached senapati at aroung 3pm , we took the wrong turn and we had to come all the way back to Senapati bazaar where some Katumai villagers came to receive the team and lead us all the way to the village.

When we reached Katumai, dark cloud was hovering above and with the cold wind blowing; I had to put on my jacket to keep myself warm. I was struck by the beauty of the place.

While we were setting up the stage, we were served tea and snacks by some local girls. They made sure that we got everything we needed to set up the stage. Unlike Imphal, there was no need for Generator as there was 24 hour electricity and I envied the never ending power supply. We could hear the call from the local church to attend the gig.

By the time they did the sound check it was getting dark and Rainbow Pao band started performing some Jazz standards and their own jazz rendition of pop tunes and old classics. Their music was superb and the crowd enjoyed the music; the voice of Laura, the female singer was sweet and flawless while we were all awestruck by the visually challenged, multitalented Babush, who played the drums, Saxaphone, trumpet and violin besides the singing. Leslei on Keyboards sounded like a whole band in itself and Roy did well with his Guitar.

Meanwhile, Baljit Malik came along with others and the African Singers, who seems to have sorted out their Visa problems. His Electric Car, Reva had to be pushed all the way up the steep climb with a Bolero from behind. It was good to see the grand old man from delhi, who was sponsoring the whole event and who made it happen.

Now, it was time for the Placid Dreams and we were on stage performing our rock, blues, country and reggae stuff. Vivek and I took turn on vocals with Ringo on bass, Sunil on Drums, Abow on Keyboards and Nanao on Guitar. We did a decent performance.

I was relieved it got over soon enough and by the time Guru Rewben was on stage, dinner was served and we rushed to the buffet to stuff ourselves with the pork chilly, rice, iromba and whatever was there in the menu. It was really delicious and we felt grateful to all the local villagers who took all the effort to feed us the best local food. Guru Rewben gave a very energetic performance and every time he performed, the crowd went wild. His inimitable style of music and stage performance was loved by all.

Meantime, Baljit Malik came up on stage in between to share his thoughts in his incomparable, straight on the face style. He spoke about the history of Kuki-Naga clash, conflict situation arising out of the ethnic politics, the need to understand each other and the value of peace, love and sharing, which was very much relevant to the present scenario out here. He also emphasized on the effect those Multi-national companies like Coke and Pepsi has on our local economy and pleaded to give up Indian made foreign liquors which the Indian Army supplies and drink tea instead or go for home made liquors instead which is cheap and best.

And when the beautiful Wungon girls walked the ramp, they set the stage on fire with their grace and style. They showcased traditional costumes of different tribes and communities representing the diverse culture that we all share and respect. Hell Yeah! They were good.

Tei Zuali, the Lushai Singer from Mizoram performed next with her pop and classic numbers on karaoke. She was good on vocals.

The African Singers, Fongang Menzepo Kem Brian and Nakkomo Jacquiline Valerie followed next with their Reggae and R'n'B numbers which was received well by the crowd.

The show ended with the Rainbow Pao Band returning to perform some popular numbers like waka waka and we all danced to their tune. We wind up at around 10 pm thanking the rain god for being kind to us. We were up till late packing up things and slept in the tent wrapped in our sleeping bags.

16th April, 2011, we woke up quite early as we had to head back home and perform at Hotel Tampha. We took turn to freshen up and the local people served breakfast to us. We were grateful for all their hospitality. We headed home early and we reached Imphal around 11 am. I reached home and had a short snooze as I was real tired. I was hoping for more good times and I was thinking about the huge potential of village tourism in Manipur.

The show was at hotel Tampha started at around 7 pm. As happen quite often in Imphal and as the hotel people also wants, we had to wind up the gig at around 10 pm. I came back home real tired. Thank god, we had a break the next day.

18th April, 2011, we were heading for Ngarunphung village (near Yaingangpokpi) and Ukhrul. The music and fun never seemed to end. We started from Hotel Tampha, weather was fine and we were in Great Spirit, we halted for a while at Sawombung to get cigarettes and other stuffs. The journey was a bit uneasy as there was news of Ambush on Phungyar MLA few days back while he was returning to Imphal on Ukhrul road with his convoy. We reached Ngarunphung around 2 pm. It was a small village and we had to mind the electric wires dangling quite low from the electric poles. From there we could see the whole Imphal Valley with the lush green field and the occasional pockets of Village. The sight was good.

We set up the stage in the waiting shade of the local church facing the Village yard. Abow did a great job with the stage backdrop. We were served tea by the locals. It took some time and James was not happy for taking too long. Everything was set by around 4:30 pm and Shankar got busy with the sound check. In no time, we were ready for the gig. We were told the dinner was ready by 5:30 pm. We were not used to the timing. The pork and Chicken was delicious in all its local flavour. I thought what the hell; I'll get hungry again soon.

Guru Rewben opened the gig and Rainbow Pao Band performed next in their peculiar style and Laura taught the kids some dance steps. The gig followed till late night. Old Baljit Malik was his usual self; addressing the crowd and dancing to the music on stage and amongst the crowd. The local crowd was decent and they enjoyed the music. We were served tea at around 11 pm during the gig and it was good to have one in the cold chilly night.

The locals arranged sleeping place for us in the nearby houses and some of us slept in the tent and bus. It started raining heavily by midnight and I was thinking about the poor guys who were sleeping in the tent.

19th April, 2011, it was still raining when I got up and it made the road slippery. We had to start early for Ukhrul. We had our Lunch at 8:00 am after the morning tea. The rain had stopped by then.

We left Ngarunphung at 9 am. and halted at Yaingangpokpi to pick up the Wungon girls. They left for home the other night after the show as their Village was nearby. We continued the journey up the long and winding hilly road towards Ukhrul. The bus was slow as the road was slippery due to last night's rain. We enjoyed the scenery and didn't mind the shakes and turns. We reached Chingai around 12:30 pm and the bus stopped at the Assam Rifles Check post for the usual checking and we told them that we were on tour.

We reached Phungreitang, Ukhrul at around 3 pm and we reached the venue where the gig was going to be held. It was on the terrace of a Youth Hostel. We got our stuffs from the roof of the bus and started setting up the stage. There was strong wind blowing and we had a hard time fixing the back drop. There was good number of volunteers who were helping us all the while. Some of them served cold drinks to us. It was getting late, so went to our Hotel. There was shortage of room and the owner apologized, requesting us to adjust and we had to oblige. We shared the room, six people in a double-bed room and we didn't mind. There was queue in the bathroom and we had to wait for our turn to freshen up. We hurried back for the gig as we were getting late.

When we reached, we were told the dinner was served. I looked at my watch, it was 6 pm and I thought to myself "Oh! Not again". I ate light thinking about our performance later in the evening.

After the sound check, the Rainbow Pao Band started the gig with their jazz numbers setting the mood right for the evening. We got the news that Baljit Malik will not be coming to Ukhrul and we were a bit disappointed. In his absence, Guru Rewben did a decent job doubling up as the anchor of the evening. Whenever he spoke in his local Tangkhul dialect, there was always a roar from the crowd, and I didn't know why. The crowd liked him I guess.

He invited some youths from Kuknalim Musical Ministry, which was supporting the Ukhrul event, to speak. Unlike other places, the ukhrul event was for invitees only. It was getting late we were told to cut out some songs, which we did. I was on high note, our tempo fast and energetic, Nanao jamming with Ringo on bass and Sunil on drums. We gave our best performance of the tour. I stepped down and Roy of Rainbow Pao Band took the stage on vocals and guitar to jam with the rest of Placid Dreams' guys. When it ended, everyone was shouting "Roy, Roy…"

The Wungon Girls did great on the ramp this time. The real surprise was the African singer, Menzepo Kem Brian joining the girls on the ramp.

Guru Rewben introduced some young local talents on stage and they performed with all their hearts.

Ukhrul being his home ground, Guru Rewben played with the crowd, who responded to his every call. His Naga Folk Blues was sounding best out there, singing and swinging all along, playing the blues note on his nylon guitar and the harmonica.

Fongang Menzepo Kem Brian and Miss Nakkomo Jacquiline Valerie pushed the dance tempo with some R'n'B hits. The crowd was now dancing to their tunes and it was like real party.

Rainbow Pao Band turned up again to get the people on the floor and Laura was giving them crowd some foot tapping, jazzy, groovy numbers one after another. Babush was on Great Spirit and his drumming on the jazz piece 'Take Five" was mind blowing. It will last for a long time in my memory indeed. Everyone was high on music and the night ended with the crowd asking for more.

We wind up things by 11 pm and went back to our hotel to get some good sleep. We had to start early and we were damn tired. We left Ukhrul by 8 am as some of the Raindow Pao Band Members and the African singers had to catch their flight for Delhi at 1 pm at Imphal Airport. Some of them had already left on taxi to catch the 9 am flight Indigo flight for Delhi before we got up in the morning.

We were exhausted from the hectic tour. It was only yesterday and we were starting to miss the good times we had. It started raining and the gloomy weather just suited the mood. Nostalgia had already set in and whoever invented the word "Melancholy", it seemed it was meant for us. I wished the fun never ended.

To add to my misery, I missed the bus when I went for a piss at Chingai and the bus stopped past half mile. I had to walk all the way drenched in the rain and decided never to get down till I reach home.

At Yaingangpokpi, the Wungon girls got down and we continued. We reached Imphal at around 11 am and the bus stopped at Hotel Classic. I bid adieu to our tour members and thanked them for all the good times we had in the last 5 days.

Kudos to R.K. James and the Oriental Pumpkins Event Management team, for organizing the Jaiszz Tour de Manipur – Spring Festival, 2011 and for having us as part of the event. I feel this kind of tour gives us an opportunity to reach out to the people on the fringes, whose voices are unheard of, so near, yet so far from the illusion of luxury, we call Imphal City. The hospitality of the people, the love and appreciation we received were of immense worth to all of us. Each place we visited was unique and it reminded me of how ignorant we are about our own people when we know so much about everything else.

This kind of tour is also a great platform to promote Village Tourism in our state. We can have paid trip to remote villages, enjoying the music, food and hospitality of the people while contributing to the local economy of the villages. We will also get to understand our people better.

I hope more people will join the tour next time which, the Oriental Pumpkins Event Management team is planning to organize as paid trip annually. I wish them all the best.

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* Ningthoukhongjam Haraba contributes to e-pao.net for the first time . This article was posted on May 22, 2011.


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