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Suggested Readings

Sometimes, you don’t have to step out of your couch to experience the world. All it takes is a good book to whisk you away.

If you have been yearning to travel to the North-East of India and Meghalaya in particular, here are some reading recommendations that will keep you spellbound. From quirky anecdotes of solo travellers and immortal folktales to a comprehensive tell-all that explains one of the world’s most mystical terrains – there’s something for everyone in our Meghalaya Reading List.

Through the Green Door by Nigel Jenkins

The Welsh author finds his homeland’s heritage intertwined with a land half a world away in this well-threaded tale that combines history and a modern traveller’s accounts. This book was borne out of personal intrigue but as the readers delve further, they will encounter the people of the Khasi Hills through the conversations and adventures of the author. UFO landings and notes on the dawn of Christianity in these hills – the roller-coaster accounts are filled with sharp turns and surprises. A shift from run-of-the-mill blogs and vlogs, Through the Green Door, avoids the patronization usually reserved for North-Eastern subjects. All in all – a good start for our Meghalaya Reading List.

Around the Hearth – Khasi Legends by Kynpham Singh Nongkynrih

Avid readers are waiting for Meghalaya’s great living storyteller’s upcoming book – Funeral Tales but Kynpham Singh Nongkynrih already has an entry in the must-read section on Meghalaya. Around the Hearth celebrates the rich tradition of storytelling that the Khasi communities have had for centuries and centuries. Celestial bridges and the origin of eclipses, the themes of good and evil, of heaven and earth – they all resonate in a crisp, unfussy and faithful English representation. KS Nongkynrih, through this wonderful ode, continues the tradition of passing on the old tales and lessons to new ears and brings them to an even wider audience.

The Yearning of Seeds by Kynpham Singh Nongkynrih

Our next entry is poetry and another masterpiece by Kynpham Singh Nongkynrih. There is nothing quaint and exotic about The Yearning of Seeds when it comes to the themes – as universal and relevant across the world as they are in the misty highlands of Meghalaya. Expect a dash of melancholy, some satire and deep glimpses into everyday life with poignant undertones when you open this one.

David Scott in North East India by Nirode K Barooah

At first glance, the legacy of David Scott in Meghalaya seems largely restricted to a popular hiking trail and some historical chapters in some local publications. However, this early 19th-century pioneer and agent of Western empires was the bearer of a new chapter to the entire region. His travails up the steamy Sylhet plains into the then-unchartered hills of the North East, and the friendships and enmities that ensued were the beginnings of an age that changed the political and social landscape in the region forever. Leave to one of the most accomplished experts on North-East Indian History, the Germany-based historian Nirode K Barooah to do a deep dive into a captivating time. East and West collide, dance, fight, amalgamate, and contradict – all in this story of David Scott, the administrator.

The Green Unknown by Patrick Rogers

The culture of Meghalaya is symbiotic with the bountiful nature here – aggressive and forbidding at times, and spectacularly breathtaking all the time. Patrick Rogers chronicles his descent into the famed southern edges of the high plateau, where the rain is infinite and every mile needs to be travelled like a thousand. Under verdant canopies and amid raging thousand-foot waterfalls, Rogers meets cultures and people who welcome him into a new world – where people build bridges out of trees and have an immense understanding of mother nature. Rogers work is bite-sized in terms of pages but acts more like a portal for those who want to wander and spend time when they travel. This is a good recommendation especially for travellers enthusiastic about the traditions and the unique living root bridges of Meghalaya.

Meghalaya Rivers by Joe Rea-Dickins, Dan Rea-Dickins, Zorba Laloo

It would take a trio of fearless kayakers to write a book so comprehensive about the geography and topography of Meghalaya, that it is considered seminal. Meghalaya Rivers is much more than just about the wild rivers of the state and the different dangers and excitement they offer white water paddlers. The book offers insights into the mind of the explorers and scenes from the heartland of this state. Apart from the honest, smart and easy-to-read prose, the book is packed with a generous amount of photography, many places and scenes that have barely been captured until now.

In Arden A memoir of four years in Shillong, 1974 -78 – Brijraj Singh

“Newly married, my wife and I went to teach English at a newly established university in north-eastern India. During our four years there, we made many friends, getting to know some unique features of the countryside, as well as the tribal culture of the locals who were fast modernizing. These memoirs try to communicate, as vividly as I can, my experiences, discoveries, and disappointments. So here is a somewhat unusual introduction to the Khasi Hills, its people, and those years, which should interest everyone who wishes to discover more about a fascinating part of India that is still too little known.” – Brijraj Singh