I write about travel, food, arts and culture, books, development, and social media for a range of Indian and international publications, including BBC Travel, South China Morning Post, Silverkris, The National, Conde Nast Traveller and Mint, among others. And in my spare time, I writes blog posts...
Just an hour’s drive out of the south Indian city of Bengaluru, a green overhead signboard welcomes visitors to the “Land of Toys”—Channapatna. The wide highway to Mysuru that cuts across the town is lined with small shops with dozens of wooden rocking horses outside that beckon shoppers with their cheerful colors. The interiors of these stores overflow with a dazzling array of lacquered toys of all shapes and designs.
On an evening stroll along the hilly roads of Shillong, in India’s north-eastern state of Meghalaya, I came across a sign for Dylan’s Cafe. Given Shillong’s reputation as the rock music capital of India, I was not really surprised. The cafe is on the upper level of an old bungalow in a narrow lane. Part of the staircase is lined with vinyl records, while rare framed posters of the musician greet visitors from the wall.
Bob Dylan is on my mind this balmy winter afternoon in Shillong – just as I’m sure he is on a million other minds all over the world. It’s just over a month since the big news about Dylan’s controversial win of the Nobel Prize for Literature, but that’s not the reason I am thinking of the man behind Mr Tambourine Man. Shillong, the capital city of the scenic northeast Indian state of Meghalaya, thrives on music.