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Development comes to Imphal, but memories of an old world lingers

Anyone who grew up in Imphal in the 80s and 90s will remember what a crazy place this town in the north-east was.

It was probably the most dangerous and fun place in the region. Of course Assam and Nagaland had their problems, but Manipur felt the most intense. Soldiers patrolled about town almost everyday and the insurgents also roamed around the gravelled bylanes where bamboo groves hid them from sight. But they sometimes walked quite openly, carrying extortion letters in their shirt pocket, to be served to government officers.

In the 80s, they would knock at random homes for a night’s shelter, or to borrow a cycle that they will never return, or to have dinner, all for free. People were forced to oblige, though it was to be shown as voluntary because somewhere in the equation there was a gun pointed at the reluctant host.

The sound of gunshots cracked like thunder in the silent night so often that people stopped caring. Those were the days of the circular dial landline telephone. …

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