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Humans of Wanderlust: KB Thapa, Shillong

KB Thapa is a 51-year-old who served 19 years in the Indian Army. He belongs to Guwahati and by profession is a woodcraft maker. All the items in his shop are made by him. He has a wife and three kids, one son and two daughters. They all live in Shillong. He is married to a Khasi woman and therefore as per tradition, he moved from his parents’ house to his wife’s city – Shillong and house.

When he was in the Army, mostly he used to be travelling and his posting was across India in the North, South, East and West. He belonged to the Gorkha regiment. Thapa is a well-travelled person and is really warm-hearted as well as a good talker with whom you can share your personal experiences.

Fruit stall in Shillong

How and when did you start your journey in Shillong?

“I got married in 1988, it was an arranged marriage and yes the journey was beautiful with her. We share a good understanding and bond. When I shifted here, I saw the military institute and was always interested in it. Therefore, I gave the exam and got selected for the Indian Army. I started my journey as a Havaldar and retired as a Subhedar,” he said.

Thapa says he learnt many things while in the Gorkha regiment which made him more aware.”It has always helped me in decision making. I travelled to different places like Goa, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Punjab, Assam and Kolkata in India due to posting in the Army. I stayed for more than 20 years in Shillong and many things have changed in the place and the behaviour of the residents. After retiring from the Army, I handled the shop on my own. Earlier, my wife and kids used to sit, now I like to sit and meet people. I told my wife to take some rest and let me handle the business for now and it’s all good going,” he explained.

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Streets of shillong

How has tourism changed in this city?

“Earlier many foreigners used to visit because of its culture and traditions. The town was always a hotspot for tourist. Mainly, we used to get people from Bengal and Bangladesh because they wanted to settle their business in this place and they did. They mainly entered in the hotel line here. Followed by people from UP and Bihar. The employment is really good that it made space for everybody to fit in society. During the British era, the place had its own charm and beauty that attracts people here. My whole business works on tourists because these things show our culture and traditions in the form of art and it feels good to see them take it home as a souvenir,” he said.

Streets of Shillong

As a place becomes popular, it becomes commercial. That’s good from a business perspective but a problem for people to live here. The worst part is that people really don’t understand the importance of cleanliness which makes the place and it’s people suffer, feels Thapa.

Did you observe any climatic change in Shillong?

“To be honest, I have travelled so much that I’m pretty confused about Shillong’s weather. It’s cold but pleasant. The sun is not that harsh like other places. I personally enjoy the weather in Shillong. Only major changes happening is the amount of heat increasing in the air of Shillong. Earlier, it wasn’t hot like this year. The sun is getting really intense. I have been in a worse condition than this, but I’m just worried about the coming generation. If the place is becoming more and more commercialized then it will definitely affect the biodiversity of the area,” he ended.

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