Photos from Iewduh and Police Bazaar…taken in January.
Kong(Khasi for sister) is a respectful term, and can be used for any woman irrespective of her age.
Although Mary, my host in Shillong, painted this picture(of a Kong) in my head, and I think the two ladies below get closest to that.
This lady is also my host’s domestic help. She walks everyday from Polo Hills to Risa Colony and back. That’s roughly about…7kms. a day? She is in her 70s.
“Old-fashioned dresses worn by Khasi ladies of farming families comprise – the ka jympien, a body cloth wrapped round and fastened at the loins with a cloth belt that ends at the knees or just below it. Over this next-to-the-skin undercloth they wear the ka jainsem, sometimes made of muga silk, which hangs loosely from the shoulders down to the ankles and is not caught in at the waist. It has a built-in pocket for small personal articles and is kept in position by knotting at both shoulders.”
However, what most of the women are wearing here is a Jain-kyrshah – a checkered cotton cloth knotted over one shoulder; sort of an improvised apron.
Even in heaven people eat Kwai – a popular saying in Khasi. Kwai is paan made of betel leaf, areca nut, and lime. Everybody in Shillong eats it. It’s a part of their culture, and is addictive(in a good way I suppose). It’s available pretty much on every street, and in winters, you eat it with ginger; it makes you feel warm.
A Kwai addict is easy to identify – red lips!
Kwai eating lady on the left.
“If she is young, she will be buxom and comely, with powerful calves that are admired as beauty.” Couldn’t have been more honest with the description.
Below: a woman selling Khui(Khasi slang for cigarettes) and Kwai..in Police Bazaar.
“When it gets bitterly cold in the hills, Khasi women wear long feet less stockings; in cases of the poorer families, ribbons or cloth wound around the legs like putties or gaiters.”
Text in quotes + the scans are from the book Dwellers of the High Hills – The Khasis of Meghalaya.
I am also considering blogging about houses of Shillong and the way the city looked in January. The houses here look so pretty and different.