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This Cafe in Shillong is Bringing Bob Dylan’s Music Back with a Twist

Shillong, a beautiful city unsurprisingly known as ‘Scotland of the East’, has also grown up to become India’s ‘Rock Capital’. As a city that hosts a line of international concerts and music festivals every year, Shillong is home to a lot of talented musicians (Tipriti Kharbangar and Rudy Wallang anyone?) and music lovers alike. Music runs in the heart of the city and love for rock music especially is shared passionately among both the young and old. So, in a city where musicians are worshipped as Gods and music seeps through all aspects of life, one is bound to encounter little nooks and corners that revel in good music alone.

Today, at R&L, we introduce you to one such amazing local venture that pays special tribute to eminent musician & poet, Bob Dylan. Set in a quiet neighbourhood right next to St Edmund’s school, Dylan’s Cafe, is aiming to reinvigorate Dylan’s memory among local enthusiasts. Needless to say, we couldn’t help but find out what the buzz was all about.

We spoke with Vatsala Tibrewalla, who fronts the cafe’s operations and has founded Dylan’s cafe with her brother Deval Tibrewalla, the creative brain behind this venture.


Guests having a great time at Cafe Dylan’s.

Driven by Bob Dylan’s Musical Legacy

“We always felt that while Shillong is known for its beautiful musical culture, there was no place which really celebrated that aspect of the city. We picked Bob Dylan because of how timeless and relevant his music and poetry is,” she says. “Also, Shillong has a special connect with Dylan, his fans led by local musician Lou Majaw have been celebrating Dylan’s birthday with a tribute concert every year from 1972. The Literature Nobel Prize for Dylan was a matter of great pride for us and a formal global recognition of our hero!”

“We have also incorporated the local flavour in our decor,” says Vatsala. “The wooden panelling on the walls used to be the dance floor of Shillong’s first nightclub Platinum (also a family owned outlet). We have used egg baskets and kettles procured from Iewduh (situated at Bara bazaar, Shillong’s local market) as lights and wall hangings. My personal favourite is the balcony that’s overlooking a grove of trees adorned with lanterns and are standing tall among green farming fields. We have even built the ceiling with removable tiles and welcome our guests to paint them.”

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Dylan’s Cafe interiors during the evening time with guests’ artwork on the ceiling tiles.

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Vinyl Records Setup

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Balcony overlooking the landscape.

  • The Grub and Grunge

Dylan’s Cafe serves brunch, lunch, dinner along with coffee, snacks and a bunch of desserts. The menu is a good mix of hearty American comfort food along with some local favourites.

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The all-day breakfast platter at Dylan’s.

Check out the Dimsums at Dylan’s Cafe. It comes wrapped in banana leaf inside a cute basket.

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Their Hot Chocolate with Marshmallows looks yum.RootsandLeisure_Dylans


Dylan’s Cafe regularly hosts live music gigs to support independent talent and also hosts literary events like book launches, book and poetry readings and interactive sessions with artists. “Dylan’s legacy is not just about his music but also his poetry and lyrics and we want to imbibe a literary culture in Shillong in our own way,” says Vatsala.

Dylan’s Cafe hosts regular Live Music Gigs to support independent artists


Book reading by Janice Pariat from Boats on Land – her collection of short stories based in Shillong and surrounding areas. In this clip, she describes “Ka Ktien”, Khasi for ‘word’ and highlights beautifully the contrast between spoken and written language.

Dylan’s Cafe also has a balcony with a lovely outdoor view – where one can even bring work – for that added inspiration.

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2017 is a year of long weekends that calls for impromptu trips. Will you be visiting Shillong any time soon? If you’re a Dylan fan or are simply looking out for a place to spend a chill evening with your friends and family, Dylan’s Cafe may be worth a visit.

Address: Dylan's Cafe, Near RBI and St. Edmund's School, Risa Colony Shillong. 

Follow Dylan’s cafe on Facebook and Instagram

Pooja Ghose

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