The Sound of Music

My track record with hill stations is poor. In Darjeeling in ’94, I shivered and sweated my way through the ‘flu. In the Cameron Highlands in 2000, I had a cold so bad that the only thing I could taste was Strepsils. So would Shillong, the former capital of British Assam known as “The Scotland of the East”, fare any better in 2008?

I checked into the Centrepoint Hotel. With an excellent restaurant and rooftop bar, it seemed like a pleasant place to stay for a few days.

I should have been suspicious that afternoon. A flyer came under my door: “Laidees (sic) Night at Cloud 9 Bar with DJ Jop. 9pm-2am”. It was Friday.

At 11.30pm, I was woken by the music. Not so much by the sound, as by my bed pulsing to the beat. A quick check confirmed that, no, the nightclub was not in my bedroom. A call to reception elicited the information that “There is a discotheque, madam”.

Between then and 2am I called reception 3 times, but the night staff cleverly didn’t speak English. I dug out some earplugs and wore them with a pillow over my head. At 1.50am the pounding beat changed to a ballad. I breathed a sigh of sleep-deprived relief.

But the revellers had to leave the building, which they did via the staircase and hallway on my floor. There was female wailing and male shouting. I’m confident that I now know the Assamese for “I don’t know WHY he doesn’t love me” and “Leave him, he’s not worth it”.

In the morning, I went to reception. “Is there a discotheque tonight?” I enquired of the receptionist. “Oh yes madam. Friday and Saturday nights”. She looked surprised when I said I was leaving.

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