A delightful story about growing up in Shillong in the 1980s - a time when political connections are required to get a phone connection, Bajaj Chetak scooters are status symbols and a grim-faced lady named Salma Sultan reads the news every night on Doordarshan, the nation’s solitary television channel.
Meanwhile, as life unfolds at a languid pace in the serene hills of Shillong, fourteen-year-old Debojit Dutta meets the older Clint Eastwood Lyngdoh, in his maths tuition classes. But Debu is wary of Clint's cigarette-smoking, whisky-swilling ways. Besides, he has only recently escaped a bunch of local ruffians who have threatened to send him ‘back home to Bangladesh’.
But Debu is unable to resist being friends with the affable Clint. For, in return for doing his maths homework, Clint introduces him to a brave new world – the heady charms of Kalsang, the Chinese restaurant forbidden by Debu’s mother; the revolutionary sounds of Pink Floyd; and most importantly, Audrey Pariat – the coolest girl in town. Together, the three of them embark upon many adventures. But when tensions between the town's Khasi and Bengali communities boil over, Shillong becomes a battlefield — old neighbours become outsiders and the limits of friendship are challenged.
With crackling energy, Nilanjan P. Choudhury immerses us in the tumultuous lives of Debu, his friends and his family, and their attempts to find love and belonging in the troubled hills of Shillong. Written with uncommon warmth, humour and a delightful evocation of place, Shillong Times is an exhilarating coming-of-age story, a tale of how friendship can eclipse the hardened enmities of adulthood.
"Has that delicious mix of slapstick and near believability that can tickle the ribs." - Dnaindia.com
“Whether one has been to Shillong or not, this delightful novel about growing up in Shillong in the 1980s has the power to create an unforgettable map of that place in one's mind. While it is about “residents”, outsiders” and whose right it is to live in a particular place, it is also a moving story of friendship that transcends the barriers of communities.
With humour and profound insight, Choudhury marches his characters straight into the reader's heart.” –
Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar
Sahitya Akademi Award winning novelist.