Have you heard of Don Bosco? I hadn’t. But if you’re in Shillong you will see his likeness or his name more than you will see Tagore in Calcutta, or perhaps, the Virgin Mary in Rome.
He was a missionary and his disciples proselytized Christianity to many parts of the world, including Meghalaya.
Some type of guilt exists in Shillong as portrayed by the Museum: As if the people of Meghalaya were so indoctrinated with notions that, before the missionaries came, they were savages, lacking in humanity. You can see this at the Don Bosco museum where there is an image of a missionary getting beaten to death. The next images in the museum portray all the good things the missionaries brought.
There’s also an ‘interesting’ segment on evolution. “If you believe in it.” Another floor tries to describe all the religions in the world. (very colorful)
For some reason, the Don Bosco museum is around the top tourist destination on tripadvisor. I can probably ascribe this to different sentiments from different cultural perspectives.
There’s a quote from Indira Ghandi that goes something like this found in Don Bosco’s museum, “I have only seen two floors of this museum but I can tell you this is the greatest museum in India.” Clearly, she didn’t see the other 5 floors.
Nevertheless, it was a colorful museum. Plenty to look at. And the experience of climbing up the disorienting conical rooftop is something else.
We took a day trip to Laitlum canyon, in a remote part of Meghalaya rarely frequented by tourists. At the top of the valley you can see a town at the base of the valley, perhaps 800 meters down. Remote in all senses except a power and television line going down the cliff side. Reception was perfect, however. At one point there was a chairlift, now long since broken.
We walked down, me cajoling Sheela against her better judgment to go all the way down. People kept asking us, “Why are you here?” What answer could we give?
I made it to a soccer field in the center of the village, Sheela a little farther up. It was a tiring way back, with no water and food, and a brush fire to our left that really did concern me. We got back to the top, but It being a Sunday, there was, of course, no transport of any kind going back to Shillong.
I was incredibly thirsty so I asked a man where I could get water, and he pointed at a concrete aquifer. That was a bad decision—the following days I got more of a cleanse than I wanted. We ended up knocking on the doors of every house that had a car. We didn’t have the energy to walk to the next village 8 miles away on the main road for a lift. Eventually a school teacher and her family took pity on us, gave us tea and bread, and a lift to the main road—where we caught a taxi back to Shillong.