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.
Set up just over a year ago, this cafe is a homage to the man in every imaginable manner: cushion covers with his face on them, themed merchandise, poetry readings and live music nights.
Customers are encouraged to paint their own tribute to Dylan on bare white square tiles that stand on an easel at one end. The tile then goes up on the ceiling as part of a large collage.
“The idea was to create a space that personifies Shillong in some way, something that would strike a chord with both locals and people visiting city,” says Vatsala Tibrewalla who owns the cafe with her brother. “And what better than music?”
The theme was a natural choice: Shillong is Dylan-mad, holding celebratory concerts each year on his birthday; and 69-year-old musician Lou Dajaw is a living local legend thanks to his renditions of Dylan’s songs.
The eclectic menu features comfort food from across the world, from Manchow soup to fiery hot chicken wings and all-American pancakes. Diehard fans can tuck into Bob’s Burger and let Dylan’s gravelly voice, constantly ringing out from the speakers, soothe their soul.