The grays of our mundane life coloured by the bright LEDs in our screen. We cannot deny the huge footprint of social media in our life. Communication is essential to a human, as essential as the need for food; and technology is the biggest medium for this communication today.
Sikkim, as tiny as the piece of land we all thrive in, is as beautiful as heaven. Like other ‘North-eastern’ states in India it does not often see itself in the mainstream Indian media. Except being covered as one of the cleanest state in India.
How does the media function in this state then?
Here, we will see the big role of social media in the lives of our people. It acts as a medium for expression, an outlet for the people. Perhaps the reason why apps like Snapchat, Instagram etc. are Big in here.
While regional media like Nayuma is present in Sikkim, which provides cable line to houses, it is only aired in the state. In this case the online media is more effective in shaping the way we receive news, even for people who stay away from home. We rely on these Facebook pages to give us our local news. As of now there are two major news pages, The Voice of Sikkim which has been around for some time and the newest Sikkim Chronicle that aims at providing us with reliable news.
The other aspect in the multi dimensional facet of this functioning is the social media used especially by teens and young adults in their daily lives.
It is wonderful to the see the pleasing posts of Sikkimese people. Hues of blue and pink, white washed walls, flavoursome food, faultless street style, all seen through the rectangular screen. A screen that maybe masks some of the details, perhaps rendering us an image incomplete. It is so ingrained in us that we tend to refer to people in real life by their Instagram usernames.
It has become an undeniably important tool to express ourselves, our art and our craft. Also, to present ourselves to the world in a light that we want to be seen in. A person’s social media tells a lot about them, but not everything. We cannot know the whole person through this.Is it the lack of a proper platform in the state that we find our own way of expression through social media? Or is it simply universal?
The impact of social media is quite visible among all us. In a recent event held by a magazine in Sikkim, people were brought together for a talent play off known through Instagram. There were also people who were felicitated for being popular in the same. This event shows both the positive and the negative effect of social media.
Who can ever tell what it is based on. Are we all heading in the right direction?
An article in Reader’s Digest shows that 66% say they feel more accepted on social media than in person, 72% feel more important or popular when they receive a lot of likes and 58% feel upset or depressed when they don’t receive a lot of likes.
Isn’t it true to some extent? Don’t we feel a little disappointed when a post we care about gets fewer likes than expected?
Isn’t it time to pause and reflect, for our online life has become like the backside of that green MG Marg building with a broken pipe, leaking; a striking contrast of dirty-brown on its wall?
Disclaimer – Featured image is the property of NPR.
I’m a guitarist myself and chances are you know many who say they play the guitar, but do they really?
Guitar may be one of the most overused instruments in the present day music. It is especially popular among the young population so much that you cannot go into any class of any college or high school where there isn’t a single guitarist. One of the main reasons why this is the case is because of the versatile nature of the guitar, it isn’t restricted in its usage as compared to other instruments like banjo, violin etc. It can be used and played across most genres and it is also affordable, especially the acoustic guitars. It is also mostly light and we can take it to many places without much difficulty unlike the piano or drums, probably why people prefer and work with guitarists. When forming a band or a musical arrangement, one has virtually no difficulty in finding a guitarist, but they go through some trouble trying to find a drummer or pianist or a violinist etc.
People who play guitar are considered to be ‘cool’ and so we hear many people wanting to learn to play the guitar. I get this request a lot myself.
But here’s a question, what kind of guitarist are you?
There are many different types of guitarists one can come across, it will be a mistake to assume that any two guitarists are necessarily the same, they’re not! From my observation and personal experience I will list down the following types of guitarist; this classification is broad one and hence based on purely genre types.
Have you met ‘Chordy’?
I will classify this group into two sub-types:-
One will be the type who know only three chords, most probably the A major, E minor and D major and say that they play guitar. In truth they have difficulty in shifting and changing the chords without taking 5 seconds and making squeaky noise, they do not know how to play the barre chords. These are the people who buy a guitar (and abuse them) by not taking care of them and never playing the guitar again.
The Second one is a more advanced version of the first type who knows chords from A to G and a few minor versions of it and will always play the same progression for every song. Every overrated and popular song, just so they can appeal the mass and look ‘cool’. It is a reality.
They usually play the acoustic guitar. These so-called guitarists are able to qualify for this classification only because of this wide misconception which has to be addressed.
The ‘Trained One’!
This group of guitarists are trained, mostly in Western Classical style and hence, very disciplined. This is the group which knows how to read sheet music and proper notation. They know the theory of music and know proper scales and arpeggios in the guitar. You won’t find them showing off as most people don’t even understand this style. It might be difficult for them to easily jam with the mainstream guitarists and musicians. However, they are highly skilled in different guitar techniques and hence very knowledgeable about guitar. They play the Classical-acoustic guitar which has nylon strings.
Music School Geek-tarist.
This is a sub-type under The Trained one. These guitarists are ‘geek’ when it comes to learning scales and theory and usually do not have variation or improvisation in their techniques. This is not only the classical guitarists but also blues or rock guitarists, but all in all since they only ‘practice-hard’ in order to mug things up and never try to create something interesting. They are hence ‘Geek-tarist’.
The Self Taught…
Self-taught guitarists are the ones who learn the guitar without a physical/personal mentor guiding them. However, they do learn from somewhere and it isn’t from inside them, to pass as a guitarist one needs to know the basics and this group of people tend to learn this by themselves through the internet tutorials and mentors. This group is one that is very enthusiastic about music and they are very patient and have a lot of perseverance. This group of guitarists may not necessarily know the way scales and key, time signature, tempo work, but they nevertheless are able to jam based on instinct than knowledge.
There are few guitarists who are very inclined to a single genre and hence are not seen playing anything outside of their genres mostly because they dislike it and often criticise it. The following are the two major genre-specific guitarists:
The blue-boy/girl: This group of guitarists are soulful and are concerned more about the feels than showing off to people. They consider the jazz and blues to be real music and usually dislike pop music. They are seen playing chords that are and in unconventional progressions and sound a certain way because of the blues scale that they play in.
The Metal-Head: They are an interesting group of people. They may not be playing in the camp fires or school choir groups and hence may be a little less acknowledged, but once they get a stage, with their electric guitar kit, they blow you off your mind with their powerful riffs and solos. People may not listen to Metal music in general but it is known, metal-guitarists are respected and they carry pride themselves. These riffs and solos can be pretty simple but the distortion and the sound effects make them sound amazing.
We’re interested in ‘Showmanship’!!!!
This is the show-off guitarist and this stigma is mostly associated with and always stereotyped with the lead guitarists. It is also true up to some extent. The lead guitarist is usually the most important part of rock/pop band. They play the main melody or direct the band’s overall ‘sound’. They need to be able to improvise and have knowledge about scales and progressions in order to do so and hence are generally overrated.
However, lead guitarists are not the only ones who show-off, a bassist who plays the low-end base accompaniment which works mostly with the drum and helps in the basic tempo and rhythm of the band can also be a show-off.
A rhythm guitarist who plays most parts of the song with catchy riffs and basic sound can also be a show-off.
In short any decently good can be a show-off.
Disclaimer: This classification is based on personal observation (and study) as well as generalisations and is not meant to offend any person, living or dead.
However in this dialectical world nothing is fixed and frozen hence one can come across someone who is an amalgam of two or more of the above categories. Thank You!
How many of us reading this right now have posed with the 사랑 ‘Sarang -love’ (the finger heart)?
How many of us have at least seen it in selfies and pictures across Instagram? I’m betting you have.
The Hallyu wave or the Korean wave has spread through the world like wildfire. People all over the world have been fangirling and being affected by this wave of Korean idol worship .
Perhaps the epitome of realization of this popularity was the 2017 Billboards Music Awards, where BTS a.k.a Bangtan Boys , a young K-pop boy band formed in the year 2013 under Big Hit Entertainment took over the world by storm when they won the Top Social Artist Award against popular artists like Justin Bieber,Selena Gomez,etc. Twitter and the American media went haywire with curiosity about this group that bagged an award in such a huge platform with their heavy fandom popularly known as the Army .
People in Gangtok are not isolated from this wave either and are in fact quite receptive of it. Gangtok is a small town in the tiny state of Sikkim in India which is landlocked between three different countries. When one travels to Sikkim they can immediately note how distinct the state is from the rest of India that is known by the world. The capital city Gangtok is a hub of neon and yellow lights that illuminate the hills crowned by the clouds. The people here are known for their warm nature, hospitality and also their sense of style. Even when in a different state one can tell if you’re from Gangtok based on your dressing sense. That’s how one Gangtokian identified me. (#truestory)
The question is where does Gangtok adapt this style from? The approach is certainly different from that of the mainland . It is here that we start seeing the subtle signs of influence of the Korean culture and K-pop that thrives in the export of its culture and style to mainly other Asian countries. Gangtok is no exception; vivid examples of such can be seen among the teenagers and the young adults in this state especially the capital. Of course the American (Western) culture is still very influential in the cultural domination across the world and Gangtok; yet we see that the Korean wave is also catching up and is gaining momentum at a good pace.
Stores in Gangtok are flooded with Korean style/inspired merchandise, like Korean handbags etc, and they sell better.
Across social media we see people posting pictures of their idols.
(They are called so, as most Korean stars are all rounders as they have dedicated almost all of their childhood into rigorous training , kept away from their families and neighbourhood under contractual basis, they purely dedicate themselves to art . As an appreciation to all their hard work their fans fondly regard them as idols ).
Many K-pop stars bloom to become aspiring actors too. A K-drama watched by virtually all Gangtokians be it young or adults , will have to be Boys Over Flowers. Initially , there were only a few people who were interested in K-pop and this drama was perhaps the first step for most of the youngsters into the world of K-pop. Since then, there has been a massive increase in the number of people who follow Korean dramas, it only appeared as a tiny infatuation at first but now , we don’t even have to go across social media all around the world, even in our very own classrooms we have fan girls and boys who have been engrossed by this Hallyu wave. Across Instagram and IRL the street style is heavily K-pop influenced. Even the daily make-up of most youngsters these days are Korean based which is light and not too bold like the Indian or the American make-up. Even if they don’t understand the language, they can be seen watching subtitled Korean dramas and translating Korean songs to English and singing it in Korean language itself! We can even see biographies of some Gangtokians and Sikkimese people on Instagram written in Korean script.
FYI! South Korea is 5014 km away from Sikkim, India and many of us and our friends dream of visiting South Korea one day.
Even with this distance, the media has been so effective in reaching this part of the world, that we can hear the k-pop fans use Korean words and slangs like “Chincha” (-Really) or “jashiki” (-jerk). One of the interviewees even said that these slangs don’t sound as bad as the English ones or even the local lingua franca Nepali ones. Much like the case with J-pop fans and Otakus (fans of anime), which is higher in the Northeastern region of India compared to other parts of India.
In an interview conducted by me and my friend, we got responses that in fact confirmed our pre-bias on why the Hallyu wave is so influential in Gangtok. People in Sikkim like in other Northeastern states, have little representation in the mainstream media and films. The last time we had such a big representation was probably Danny Denzongpa in Bollywood and Bhaichung Bhutia, former captain of the National Football team. When the hilly people go out into different parts of India to study etc, they are discriminated based on how they look. However, it’s not only because of looks but also style and the difference in our culture. The discrimination isn’t always violent or obvious, most of the times it is only a prejudice that turns into a stereotype. This subtle alienation paves way for the need to find something or someone to represent us.
According to people we interviewed, they like Korean dramas and idols as they are hard working and are all rounders and also because they seem familiar due to their facial (i.e. mongoloid) features. Some people also feel that the K-dramas are more relatable than the Indian TV Soaps even if it has the cliché of the rich guy-poor girl plot.
When asked if Bollywood was more relatable to one of the K-pop fans this was her response.
“It is a big NO. I don’t think Bollywood is any relatable than k-dramas , the only k-drama cliché is that either the boy or the girl will be extremely rich and the other gender will be pathetically poor, and this thing too has been improved lately . The new dramas that are coming up are more realistic and fun too (excluding the fairy tale dramas). I don’t understand the need to put an item song in the movies. It does not make any sense to me.”
In 2016, a Korean boy band came to Sikkim to judge a show and it was an event that remained in the memories of many K-pop fans. Even if the boys were not BTS and relatively unfamiliar, they were still showered with love and support from the people who not only idolize the K-pop stars but also have come to admire and want to become more like the Korean people in general. While this is a strategic move by the Korean government in order to promote its tourism and cosmetic surgery business, it is well received by people.
Should we be worried about the rise in the Hallyu wave in Sikkim? In plain sight, there’s really no problem at all, it gives the people a sense of belonging and an Asian representation that is different from the stereotypical Indian Asian representation. Maybe the reason why the Hallyu wave of South Korea is so popular in Gangtok and other Northeastern states in because of the lack of the representation of their people in these parts. Of course, this is not to say that the mainland Indians aren’t fans of K-pop. There are in fact many, but the case with Northeast and Gangtok is also deeply rooted in the need for representation. If the Indian entertainment media saw more people from this part of the country participating we are always supportive. Perhaps Prashant Tamang is a quintessential example of this argument, when he went to Indian Idol, the whole of Darjeeling and Sikkim voted for him and he became the Indian Idol. Maybe that’s it, we need more Indian Idols (pun intended) from this part of the country too. There’s a whole treasure of untapped talent in this part of the country which needs to be witnessed by the nation.
However there are smaller unnoticed problems that may arise from the craze in this wave. The need to look more and more stylish; while looking stylish is indeed a good thing, for the overall street style in Gangtok, this also creates a certain vanity of always wanting to look good and sometimes ignoring other important things like the beauty of simplicity. The other problem that seems to be hindering around the corner is the glorification of a ‘certain type’ i.e., the mongoloid features, fair skin, an oval face (for girls), slim body and so on.
We must remember that in Sikkim,we have different ethnicities living in harmony with each other, this also means that we have different facial features and not all of us are similar in our bodily and facial features and we must be willing to not let that part of the Hallyu wave get to us.
We all love this wave of exciting idols who can do pretty much everything and anything in the entertainment industry, make us dance to their never-ending digital beats and again make us cry with their emotional dramas. So maybe we can keep this wave healthy and still stay rooted in our own culture without diverging away too much.
Hope you enjoyed this article, now daum-eh bwa. 😀