Agitation and iskus ko munta.

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We were counting days of the indefinite strike. It was the 58 days and the hills were still shut- from receiving groceries from Siliguri, shut from Right to Information, shut from the freedom to speech and express and shut from several other human rights.

‘INTERNET SHOULD BE RESUMED!’

People gave speeches in this context to no avail.

The agitation.

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Interestingly, the third phase of the Gorkhaland agitation which was revived from the protest of three language policy allegedly ‘imposed’ by the Chief Minister Mamta Bannerjee on May last year had taken a serious turn making history for the generations yet to be born.

While the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha protested in the streets shouting ‘Bhasa hamro ama ho, bhasa mathi atikraman garnu paudaina’ (Language is our Mother, you cannot impose any language)

‘Language Protest’ slowly twisted to the protest of Gorkhaland movement- they called it ‘people’s movement.’

We heard slogans like ‘Bangal hamro chihan ho, Chihan ma Gorkhay basdaina’ (Bengal is our grave, Gorkhas doesn’t reside in the graveyard) every day from 11:30 am till 2:00 pm.

The stir reached to a degree where people swore that they are not going to settle in anything less than the state of Gorkhaland. Meanwhile, the protesters and the law enforcers often got involved in the violent clash in most of the places. Many people lost their lives in 105 days.

They, who bled, had a dream, an aspiration to live for a moment in Gorkhaland! The dream… just faded away.

Yet, the Gorkhaland Movement Coordination Committee ‘tried’ to come up with many concrete resolutions which indeed failed many times. People had their faith in the unanimous decision of ‘all-party’ that time.

The squash tendrils!

We, perhaps, had never been so interested about iskus ko munta in our lives before but this particular tendril had become one among the few green vegetables available around us in those 105 days.

Maila daju used to come from Sangsay with a doko (ethnic Nepali basket, bigger in size, carried in the back with the support of a knit rope in their head, by adjusting it in the basket) full of iskus ko munta and bitter gourd. Oh, monsoon; the strike was all about fungus, ferns, bamboo shoot and squash-family!

By the time he reached 10th mile fatak (dus-mile-fatak) he sold half-doko of vegetables. People who came for the procession used to buy and take the vegetables home.

‘Aju ta Julus ma munta nikalayra dekhaunu parcha Bangal Sarkar lai’

(Today we need to display tendrils in the procession so that Bengal government sees)

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They were probably saying that because the impact of the indefinite strike and this legitimate demand had outraged people down there in Siliguri who in return had been stopping the transportation of food items to the hills. And it was alleged that the police along with some civilians were involved which was understood that the government had instructed them.

One odd morning while walking in the street of Dambar Chowk, I stumbled upon an old friend, who had come back to Kalimpong and those days the most important filler of a conversation had become ‘what are you eating lately?’ and the person at the other end unsurprisingly used to answer ‘Iskus ko munta!’

It was almost 60 days that people had been happily eating those tendrils for the sake of eating ‘green-vegetables.’ We got other organic vegetables too but ‘munta’ had become an ‘item’ cooked in every household those days and for the ones dwelling in the town, ‘iskus-ko-munta’ had become one of the delicacies.

One day, our veggie-stand was empty and we had gone down to Bhalukhop to send our stories, it had been days that we last ate greens, we were dying to eat vegetables. My pillion rider grabbed a handful of tendrils that was hung low towards the road while I was still riding. WE HAD TO EAT GREENS!

Internet ban and Iskus ko munta.

However, after the Internet was shut in the hills, people had no idea what to do to access their emails, book tickets or recharge phones or T.Vs but people who lived in the higher altitude of this town figured out Sikkim’s (Namthang, South Sikkim) signal blinking on their phone.  After receiving a couple of notification, they felt JIO as a saviour. That’s how the term Jio-dara (Jio-Cliff) became popular and Carmichael ground was one of those places that got internet reception. Carmichael Ground was soon renamed to Jio-Dara almost officially.

People told their friends and their friends told their other friends about the availability of network and soon Carmichael ground was flooded with people with their laptops and phones every single day.

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Carmichael ground is actually a place where kids play football. Above the ground is an elevated highland. It is above Mission Compound, Kalimpong. That’s it; we could just hear the notifications beep.
School students to lawyers, doctors, businessmen, and journalists, everyone was found there after 4 pm.

It was monsoon and the fogs used to swirl up exactly like today, the connection used to weaken to make us unable to attach emails. After staying there for hours in the piercing wind, emails finally used to get attached.

There were few more places like Carmichael ground that received the network.  Like Delo and Durpin hills. Networks were found because of the altitude.

Internet ban

(Though the Internet was stopped, the voices could never be stopped.)

And at the end of the day, getting home and looking at the ‘Sabzi-Stand’ or the refrigerator would matter the most. Because… what would you eat if there were no ‘iskus ko munta?’

Carmichael had a lot to offer us, there was a hideout where boys used to go to attend nature’s call, one similar evening, I too had to go for the same task, I saw squash tendrils and pumpkins, mazes and gingers getting matured there. The next day, after winding my story by 3 pm, we reached jio-dara to send our news. I went to the hideout to pee just to understand that somebody had already stolen squash tendrils and pumpkins.  I still wanted to eat ‘iskus ko munta’ for dinner.

I had always pestered my mother when she used to cook ‘Munta’ back home, but last year, for the first time in my life, I had a serious craving for munta. I wanted to eat munta, I had to eat munta, or else I would go round like the shape of potato but thanks to whoever that withdrew the agitation on the 105th day.

 

*ENDS*

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Cinema Cafe~ For Filmy Conversations

Cafe, Conversations, and Tea-I

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I guess C.C.T sessions are one of the remedies to seize ones’ mind-block. With work-and-run, a session at a cafe was ’mandatorily required’ for me. This time without my prominent foodie companion, I experience Cinema Cafe (on its opening on 21st April) which is filled with creativity.

It’s been quite a while that I’ve been constantly visiting cafes, rather new cafes to taste vegetarian food with my almost-cannibal-food-partner. We’ve sat on many chairs and spilled conversations on many tables adjusting our elbows.

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The shimmering lights at the entrance and a transparent wall to see the road and the stories there. This Cinema-themed cafe gives us all we want and all that we had been missing.

I’m sure with time we started looking for something extraordinary other than music in cafes, that’s when Cinema Cafe happened. With the right food- above the cafe is the bistro where amazing Delhi Darwar Biryani is served. The taste is amazing as the term ’biryani’ convinces.

The menu is decent with 50 rupees for green tea and 70 for first-flush-tea. Minimum of 70 for French-fries and maximum of 180 rupees for Chicken Club Sandwich/Chicken burger in the café.

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Menu.

The arrangements are wonderfully engineered and the wall-painting, people really forgot about ’children’ and that’s how Kung-Fu-Panda is painted there by a talented chap, Subash Rana.

Panda

~By Subash Rana

Anmol Gurung, the owner of the cafe, a filmmaker himself has given a wonderful thought about this very cafe. He wants the place to become a meeting point for all the producers and filmmakers. Anmol also wishes to reintroduce stand-up comedy here in the cafe.

‘It has all begun with stand-up comedy and conversations, so why not have them both here?’ He said.

The cafe has a DVD shelf at the corner from the right-hand-side of the entrance… (At such time when DVDs are on a verge of extinction.)

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DVDs

With a belief that every filmmaker has a way of inspiring, reputed filmmakers including Kapoors have an outlet as Prithvi Cafe in Prithvi Theater in Juhu, Mumbai.

Cinema-themed cafes are definitely a place where you can walk-in alone and find many people with a common interest. You can have a conversation with anyone there, literally!

We have also hard about other cinema-themed cafes like Indian Coffee House in Kolkata and Station-5 at Katmandu. Similarly, Cinema Cafe is here in Kalimpong now.

Cinema Café is no doubt a place with youthfulness, it is a must-visit not only for its lively but for the good vibe and good food.

Best wishes to the team!

More info- 

Indoor seating,
Alcohol available,
Table booking not available.

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Please Note.

Service-
Friendly staff,
Friendly service.

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Have a look

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feel of the place- 

Good- looking cafe, half section facing towards the road.
Restaurant upstairs with dimmed-blue-lights

Artistic Decor and paintings
Amazing ambience.

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Cuisines-

Cafe- tea-first, flush
Restaurant- Delhi Darwar Biryani

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 Location-
Near David Gas.

How fond are you of Cinemas? 

Are you interested in the process of filmmaking or watching?
Are you nodding your head?
Then this is for you!

Anmol

Anmol Gurung.

dayahang-rai

Dayahang Rai

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mountain Pictures is coming up with a new project, ‘APPA’ where you will see Dayahang Rai in the lead and this is happening for the first time in the history of ‘Darjeeling-Hill based cinemas.’

APPA is a mixture of comedy and a sad story scripted by Anmol Gurung.

Anmol Gurung is a filmmaker who has created films like Anmol Chan, Chaya, and several other short films.

And as you know, Dayahang Rai, who is more than just an actor. He has not just received three National (Nepal) awards for fun. He has thrived on it. Breaking the stereotype that actors need six-packs, good looks, etc., he has been so real all these while in Nepali cinemas.

Meanwhile, gossips make things more interesting, here gossip says, Dayahang Rai has rejected other films in Nepal just to work on this particular project.

The preliminary work of the film has started, and sources say that the moorat shoot will kick off on 16th April in Darjeeling.

Before you think about APPA in theatres, Mountain Pictures is also giving an opportunity to the film enthusiasts to take a first leap towards the career of filmmaking…now looking for 2nd AD (Female), 3rd AD (Male) Assistant to the Director (Male) Assistant to the sound Team (Male) Dress Person (Female) Assistant to the Art Team (Female/Male) and two Spot Boys.

Opportunity

(Besides the aforementioned posts, interested actors willing to work with Dayahang Rai in this project can also come for the screening on 25th March)

Mountain Film

If you identify your talent fitting in the given posts you can dial 7384492622 or 9832318537 immediately as the team will be finalising the candidates on 25th March, 11 am at Cinema Café.

Give a shot…Now!

Please Note: Cinema Café is opening shortly, near David Gas, in the old T.K Apparel showroom.

Stay Tuned for more stories regarding this exciting themed Cafe and the film.
 

 

 

 

Mayel Lang- food paradise on earth.

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After cafes, I make a turn to restaurants with a very good foodie companion. And in news-less weeks like this, maybe time is giving me a chance to blog once again.

Food has always been the thing that can’t deceive us. Food gives us happiness and hunger is the feeling which is so damn real and we can’t judge food unless it reaches our taste buds.

So, Mayel Lang! The name tribal enough to understand-Ahh Lepchas!
It is located in the old ‘One-Cup’ i.e above Strawberry and below Leez.

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My woes were piling up for past few days and this food break gave me a real break from many hassles of my life.

Meanwhile, when I reached there, my super amazing foodie companion was waiting, already taking a look at the menu.  He is perhaps a very good listener.

‘Let’s try the food there’ he had said that morning and I was left with no space of denial, for food!

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Veg wanton, chicken wings in honey sauce, fried rice, noodles, (French) fries, Veg-Thai-Curry, were the food we tried there.

In another 20 minutes, food was ready on our table.

Quick service! We did not realize the time as we were engrossed in conversation.

Everything tasted good. But I don’t know why Thai-Curry could not impress my taste buds. Maybe I am not accustomed to Thai food? Whatever it is, what can beat Sag and Iskus ko Jara, bhat, with Dallay Khorsani and Daal? 

However, my companion too said, ‘Thai Curry was not up to the mark.’ (He knows Thai Curry and I trust him.) 😉

M.L has fruit beers too, but we were so full that we could not try. But you can go have a drink as summer is just around the corner.

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Besides food, the arrangements and new setting which they have made is really beautiful…From lights to the low-height table-bench.

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And bamboos! Lepchas are synonymous to bamboos. Spoon-Fork and tissue holder is crafted by bamboos there and it looks extraordinarily elegant.

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Food is not too expensive. One can enjoy a weekend brunch or lunch in Mayel Lyang with good companions like I did.

I liked the place, maybe because the conversations were topped like the cherry on the cake.

No- it’s rather because of the hospitality!

Mayal Lyang azom lee sa am am azom rem tonkchi fungu!
Thank you, Mayel Lyang for our wonderful experience with food!

Did you find the review useful?
Let me know. 🙂

TO BLEED OR NOT TO BLEED

Pad

Merab Wangchuk

The first time I had my period; it was my mother who showed me how to use a pad. Only it wasn’t any branded piece of cotton, it was a metre of a white piece of cloth. I remember her teaching me to fold it, first the left side and then the right, then you align both sides by patting it together. That was how the mechanism went for me, simple and easy but it was as if a huge slab of foreign material was stuck between my thighs. Obviously, I graduated to sanitary napkins in a few days but that was my mother’s way of teaching me to not take anything for granted, especially sanitary napkins.

While bleeding is celebrated in parts of the world, here, it is a calculated event. It is hushed and spoken of in undertones, we are taught to not mention it before boys and fathers, we are asked to hide our cramps and cravings, we ought to be ashamed, religion, social, cultural jargon all teaching us that it is dirty and filthy. I’ll break some sweat and say it isn’t. How is something that is an ocean of life, indicating prosperity and fertility unchaste? When did we associate something so warm, in the most perfect sense to an indication of obscenity? Who gave us the permission to conceal one of the most liberating attributes of womanhood behind locked doors and lowered eyes? But we do that for it is an old age tradition, we speak of modernity and giving women their independence and space while erasing the mention of periods and orgasms and postpartum depression. You see, we are humans and shallow and contradictory are our middle names.

Now, one of the major concerns that we need to combat is the cost of pads, especially in the hills, more so in our rural areas. While some countries have made sanitary napkins and tampons free of cost or even lowered prices to a maximum extent, India still has a long way to go. The new GST has definitely reduced taxes on such by 2.5% i.e. we have to pay 12% taxes on sanitary products, it, however, does not change the fact that condoms and contraceptives, bindis, bangles, etc. are exempt from taxes thus proving a point that a women’s wellbeing only refers to her outer wellbeing. While I as many of us have been fortunate enough to have been handed such luxury at our beck and call, such is not the condition everywhere. Our rural areas comprising mainly of labourers, the women and girls in our hills still resort to the method of using clothes. Sanitary pads are just an option and here, one would prefer the cheaper product. While using ash or wooden slabs have not been recorded in the hills, still, one must understand that the use of sanitary products, especially tampons are also almost null.

The consequences of not having proper sanitation facilities in such areas are the absence record of girls in schools in rural areas. Periods are still considered a social taboo and hence according to reports, girls frequently tend to miss school because of this lack of sanitation facilities and proper care. The social aspect here is the feeling of being an embarrassment before peers. One thing I’ve noticed and lived through is that here in the hills we do not have sex education classes nor do we have public health counselling for women. Whatever information we tend to gather is from wisdom gained from old school techniques, from seniors and friends. The first time I learnt about sex was from the mouth of my cousin and when I first started chumming, as the slang goes, another cousin of mine pointed it out to my mother. The point here is girls, as well as boys, are clueless about their bodies and its functioning. In such a case, how do we expect girls to marvel at this boon, a blessing that proclaims that she is finally a woman now?

Menstrual health is a matter of public health. It shouldn’t be considered as irrelevant and useless as the word of our politicians. It is a concern we need to look into, and by this, I say we need to set it as a priority. Women bleed, we all do and it is nothing to be ashamed of. There is so much to do on this aspect in our place so how about a start now? Nothing is ever too late!

(Stay tuned for more updates)

 

 

Cho’s Coffee Shop- New in Town.

Prayer flags and pots

‘TCS’

It was after writing an important story about Katherine Graham Memorial Chapel; I walked towards Kanchan with my team. Then the basement!

The Coffee Shop was finally inaugurated on the first day of February.

The owner, Chopel Bhutia, a young chap, who also owns ‘be-fabulous’ a clothing store has perfectly designed the cafe. The total space is perhaps-300 square feet or even lesser.

Book Rack

Help your Shelf.

The arrangement is neat, with tiny tables, fairy lights, and a perfect bookshelf. Good thing is-its semi-open. We can see who enters Be-Fab, who buys what! Everything is transparent, only from certain angles.

They don’t have an opaque door leading to the kitchen when cafes usually have a wooden block written ‘NO ADMISSION’ the coffee shop has a transparent sheet. We can see if they are messing around with our food.  Thanks, Chopel!

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The Transparent Sheet.

But this guy has his own idea, someone has to keep wiping kitchen stains from the curtain. So to avoid stain and dirt in a curtain, plastic sheet it is-he can change the sheet weekly.

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The Kitchen.

The first day: 

Chopel says- ‘The first day was amazing… I was nervous but as for a start I guess it went well. I opened the shop at 7 am and closed it around 8 pm. I had around 50 customers walking in within 13 hours and that was more than what I had expected. My first customer was the newspaper Daju from Denzong paper supplies. And the last was a group whom I met for the first time but I was not able to ask their names.’

Cakes

Muffins and Love.

Well, we all had our own story of experience there.

Blue and white balloons were kept on the floor to adorn the cafe, small flower pots and lights have enhanced the look of the cafe. It felt so warm there maybe because it was in the Basement.

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Loved the pots. 

While I was asking for a cup of tea, I saw my friend Priyanka V Lama, who was waiting for her friend Neha. Neha, Priyanka, so many others and I had studied together in St Joseph’s Convent and we met approximately after a decade or even more. I’d met Priyanka a few months back while Gyalchen Lha had organized Miss-Kalimpong. We’ve been in touch ever since.

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Cho brewing coffee.  

The cafe has one ‘introvert’ sitting. I was happy to see that. My mind had started screaming ‘my type of place’ especially for valentine day because there will be a wall facing in front of you and keep staring you while you eat.

Technically it was like a small reunion where The Coffee Shop helped us reunite. I’m sure people have their own stories and their experience at ‘TCS’ who had offered ‘buy one- get one free’ treat to their customers in drinks, and here they have begun with a simple menu yet amazing takeaways. I carried the cup till home, sipping tea while I was a pillion rider.

TCS

The reunion. 

So TCS is new place to hang-out in town. And few more bistros will be inaugurated soon in Kalimpong.

Please visit THE COFFEE SHOP and Share your experience with us. 🙂

Love will always save you.

{Please note: This story is written by Kalimpong84 and not me.
The content idea purely belongs to the unrevealed author. }

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Representative Picture.

Varinka’s health deteriorated every day but her zeal to live never died.

She always said “every day is a gift…. that’s why they call it PRESENT.” Now as she realized that waiting for death made her life more miserable, she decided to work. She knew her days were numbered and she wanted to do something that was worth the time she had on earth… so she decided to work in an Old Age Home with the hope that her journey would be little joyful living with people sailing on the same boat.

So with the help of her few contacts she managed to get a job including accommodation for herself in an Old Age Home run by an NGO.

Her new home was perfect for her… it was filled with positive energy and the love she got back from the elders was overwhelming. Every second she spent on caring for the elders was worth more than what she had lived before. She felt that she had found the purpose of her life, no matter how short it may be!

There were many girls like her caring for the elderly in the Home but non with a short life like hers. One fine day an elderly inmate was so sick that Dr Rohit had to be summoned to examine. He was the visiting doctor for the Home and was a renowned Oncologist (cancer specialist) with a heart of Gold. Dr Rohit was not only good clinicians but also a very good human being. It had been more than 5 years serving in the Old Age Home and he didn’t charge a penny.

Dr Rohit was very well known for his experimental drugs that had miraculously healed most of the cancer patients in the Home. His invention was on the verge of a breakthrough in the world of medicine.

When Varinka heard this from her friends she couldn’t stop herself from knowing more about this magical drug but on the flipside the drug did not work on all patients.

Varinka had nothing to lose; she decided she would go for it. One day she went to meet Dr Rohit in his chamber. Dr Rohit was a young, smart, 32 year old Bachelor. His achievements were a little too heavy for his age.

Varinka introduced herself and told him that she worked in the same Home that he was attached to.

When Dr Rohit saw her for the first time, he was awestricken by her beauty.. Everything went silent for some second. Varinka started talking but Dr Rohit’s jaw dropped as he was mesmerized by her beauty. Slowly Varinka’s voice started sounding louder and Dr Rohit gained back his consciousness.

Dr Rohit rebuilding his composure said,

“Sorry miss I was lost in thoughts for seconds, could you please tell me your problem from the beginning”

Varinka’s crease on her forehead indicated that her temper was not to be played with, but for sick people temper was unaffordable.

Dr Rohit sedately heard everything that Varinka had to say. He himself expressed his sadness for her sickness which was one of his virtues that separated him from all other doctors who treated patients like specimens.

Dr Rohit agreed to give her the treatment. He also explained that since the drug was experimental it would not cost much for her which was another boon for Varinka.

Varinka’s treatment started and her test results showed signs of healing. As her health progressed, so did their relationship. Both Dr Rohit and Varinka started seeing each other on a regular basis. They both liked each other.

But Dr Rohit was in love with her.

As days passed by, Dr Rohit was himself amazed at the rate in which Varinka was recovering, and deep down, he knew that she would one day be cancer free. He was patiently waiting for that very day because on that day he was going to propose her.

So the day of her final test results.

Varinka was looking more beautiful than ever. All the elderly inmates in the Old Age Home were praying together for her and anxiously awaiting the reports which Dr Rohit was bringing along with him.

You could literally hear the beats when 100 plus hearts were beating with the same excitement as Dr Rohit’s car entered the compound. Doctor enters the hall with a Poker face which he could not hold long as tears rolled down his eyes and with a smile he gives a nod. He then knelt and pulled out a ring and proposed to Varinka.

Yes, Varinka is now Cancer free but she had not at all expected this. She liked Dr Rohit but did not love him.

She was in trouble once again.

Back there in India, Varun was still missing Varinka. Varinka could not keep her secret for long and on hearing this Varun’s love for Varinka grew much stronger. Varun’s love compelled him to leave for Kathmandu in search of Varinka.

Here, Varinka did not want to embarrass Dr Rohit as he was one of the most respected and the most required person in the Old Age Home. So she said YES…thinking that she would clarify things later. Everyone clapped with tears of joy in their eyes.

Next day, Varinka decided that she would clear up everything and explain why she had to say Yes! When in reality she wanted to say No! She patiently waited for Dr. Rohit in his small chamber which was in the ‘Home’ itself. She heard the sound of his car. Her heart started racing as he walked closer to the chamber.

Gathering all the courage she opened the door for him and there in front of her stood… Varun.

Varun! Varinka! A moment of silence!!!

The situation was so intense that the whole chamber was burning in an invisible fire.

Without saying anything further, they hugged each other for as long as they could.

‘I’ve missed you every day and I’ve come to take you” said Varun.

 

Enters,
Dr Rohit with flowers in his hands, watching Varun in Varinka’s hands!

 

(ENDS)

 

“Sometimes choices are not easy to make.
And ‘everytime’ risk is what you CAN’T take.
The choice you make today,
Can make you suffer tomorrow.
And the risk you don’t take today,
May be of regret to you tomorrow.”
-Varinka 

 

 

Cafes and Conversations…till LOVE and UNLOVE.

-a short story (fiction)

cafe and conversations

Spring hadn’t sprung at all. It was already April and the thread in my whatsapp was overloaded with our conversations. This time, Varun had just come from America.

My excitement to see him, plus not to see him at the same time had me confused. I was afraid, as usual because my effort of understanding him would fail each time he would come back to Kalimpong. He is a different person in the virtual world and he is different in reality.

I would always think that there is no point for us to hang out often but Varun would eventually act that he has always been in love with me. And I’m sure I’ve always tried defending myself with the thought that Varun doesn’t actually love me.

So, I received a message one morning.

‘Good Morning sunshine… Rise and Shine’

‘And get ready, we have to go Munsung.’

….

‘Good morning.

Wait!

What?

Why?

I can’t go.

In fact, I can’t meet you.’ I replied in a row!

He has been obsessed with driving towards countryside, just to escape from reality and just to escape from civilisations.

I rather chose to stay on bed that day!

One message received!

‘Hey, what you doing?

You missed it.

This place is amazing.

And I’ve just ordered a dhungro!’

Why don’t you just come? He wrote.

‘No Varun, I’m not well’ I replied without giving a second thought.

‘What? What happened? Why didn’t you tell me in the morning?

I’m coming right away to see you!’ was Varun’s reply.
He always over-reacts. It’s been years but we both don’t know who we are to each other. When he introduces me to his friends, he says, ‘Meet my friend Varinka’ and when we chat, it seems we are more than ‘just friends.’ He knows my like and dislikes. He knows me inside out. He knows how much I hate drunk-drives and how much I love poetry. And after all these years, and all the conversations, yeah, we are just friends!


No Varun, you don’t have to come.

I’m fine.

I’ll see you tomorrow.

In café Kalimpong at 11 am. Done for the day!

And after that, he just didn’t reply.
I started working in some micro poems.


‘The paralyzed night, its shiver
Blurry stars, navy blue, and mist.
In the distance, yes, without you’

And just then I got to access some of his haikus, amazing poet he had become with time. But he always told me that he gets inspired by my words when in contrary, I got inspired by his, always!


Next day!

‘Morning!

Café Kalimpong is it?’

Shit! It was 9:45 am when I opened my eyes. And his message beeped around 7:15 am.

‘Yes, be there. Be punctual, time really exists for me’

I got off from bed.


14th Mile, Kalimpong…

Here it’s December, every day. You are enveloped by fog all the time till you reach Dr. Grahams Homes. Then the sun smiles your way till you reach Dambar Chowk- a ridge adjoining Delo and Durpin hills.

I reached Café Kalimpong by 10:55 am and asked masala tea for my own satisfaction.

This Café gives amazing masala tea which costs money and an amazing view of protruding Delo hill, for free!

While I was carelessly sipping tea for the sixth time, Varun entered the café. It left my heart skipping its rhythmic beats. I was meeting him after two years. I looked at him and smiled.

He approached towards me. We didn’t hug!

He sat in front of me. The café was suddenly filled with SPRING.  He smelled good like the fragrance of those sweet-peas that bloom in the onset of spring. I don’t know much about the café and people in it, but to my heart, he literally changed a season.

How are you feeling now? He asked breaking the silence.

I forgot that I had to speak. I was lost, lost in something so beautiful, so stunning and so amazing. I was just staring at him.

Better. I said

What would you like to eat? These guys make amazing burgers and blueberry cupcakes. I just wanted to suggest something of my choice.

Hmmm…burger and tea! He said.  

He loved tea as much as I did. And that was one thing how my attraction grew towards him.

So, how are things in the U.S of A?

Oh! You know what? I forgot to tell you that I am selected for an international course, I have to choose a university from five countries, and I think I’ll go for two year’s master degree course in Duke University or University of North Carolina at Chapel hill, U.S.A.  What do you think? There’s no full stop once I start speaking.

He was staring-a blank gaze in my eyes.

We will talk about it; let me do a background check about the universities. He said.

Meanwhile, our food arrived.

We started gobbling.

I ordered for the third round of masala tea.

He smiled.

He suddenly leaned forward, trying to reach my face with his hand, hurdled by a table in between us. Teenagers there were taking selfies around. My hair was blown by the wind, tangling it roughly. And an unexpected music started playing in the background, it was Elvis Presley. His hand did reach my face; his fingers slowly ran towards my upper lips and with this thumb, he wiped my mayonnaise moustache.

I smiled, only to see tissues right next to my hand.

We talked about other cafes and foods.

About paintings and books,

Seasons and moods,

Jobs, satisfactions, etcetera!

We had so many things to talk and we visited as many cafes that we could visit in few months. We shared as many conversations we could share in those times.

We would go to see a river and sometimes we would go to see the sunrise. We would stand and watch the rain drops fall and he would ask me to dance with him in the middle of the road.

We had shared endless stories, some stupid, some genuine. We often dropped one another home and talked for long hours as we dispersed.

We became each other’s unbreakable habit. And this time I really got to know and understand Varun better. I liked being with him.

I started bunking work just to meet him. And he stared walking in the rain, just to see me.

Many months passed!

One day, he didn’t write to me the whole day. I was still at work. In fact, I was overloaded with work that particular day. I was 3:30 pm.

Bling! I got a message.

‘Hey, I’m in Gangtok today, will be returning tomorrow, early!’

Then, I had this weird feeling. What? Where? Gangtok? Why?

The person who messaged me to tell that he is eating, sleeping, reading, writing, listening music, etc. goes to another state and I don’t even know? I was petrified for no appropriate reason.

‘Oh! Okay’ I replied, but only this heart was aware of the hurricane that I was withstanding.

I didn’t write to him further.

We didn’t exchange message for few days. And it was weird, I wanted to know, I wanted to ask him, I wanted to talk to him, I had to understand but I chose to kill myself silently without doing any of these.

He was online most of the time and it killed me more.

After two weeks of torture, I changed my job, so that I could be busy- learning new things.  I was being able to cope up with situations. I was slowly able to break my habits.

Things felt quite odd for few days but then it worked well with time!

Slowly, I started visiting cafes, alone. I started writing alone and tasting teas alone.

At times, some café owners would ask, ‘bhai ayena?’ and I wouldn’t know what to answer. I would just smile and ignore. And sometimes, I would bounce by his friends who would ask, ‘hey, where is Varun these days?’ and I would end up saying, ‘hey, I was about to ask you the same.’
I was tired of escaping questions and inquisitions of people. I was tired of pretending. Then, I started looking for a ticket to South-India for the fifth time in my life.

Was I in a mission to run away from a circumstance that life threw hard on me? Well, yeah!

Bling!

Hey! How and where are you?

Need to talk.

What? Do you think life is a joke? Or do you see me like a clown selling balloons?

But this heart gets enticed so easily. And without even realising I replied,

Hey, I’m still here. Then I cursed myself instantly.

Next moment we were trying to avoid eye-contacts in Aroma café. We had two large cups of Darjeeling milk tea in front of us.

We had looked out of the window for 18 minutes already and I was getting late for work.

Priority changes!

What is it that you had to talk about? I had to break the silence.

How have you been? I missed you! He said.

I was angry from within. He was the one to walk off from my life without saying anything.

I was fuming with anger. I had just taken two sips of my favorite cup of tea.

I walked off from the café.

‘Varinka, wait!’ he came running downstairs but I made sure that he wouldn’t reach me.

I reached home, I didn’t work, my peace was invaded. I was very angry.

He kept calling me but I didn’t receive. I instead chose to take shower and sleep. I was 3:26 pm and I started thinking about my work.

I’d received many messages by 6:30 pm and I didn’t read any of it.

My anger faded with time and I read his message one by one. His last message was,

Let me talk to you for one last time.

‘One last time? Why? Was he going back? Oh No! I can’t live without him.

I think I Love him!’ I talked to myself!

Okay, we have to talk then. I replied.

Paris Café, tomorrow 9:30 am, see you there Varinka!

What? Why so early? His timing seemed so odd and my curiosity rose higher.

Next day.

I had prepared what to say and what not to. I chose to wear a shirt with an Indian print; he used to say that I look good in it.

This time too, we were silent half of the time. The guy in the reception didn’t bother us only to realise that he is deaf and dumb. Varun doodled the order in a piece of paper. And the guy prepared Darjeeling tea without milk.

How much I hated tea without milk, he knew it better. Still, I somehow struggled with a milk-less cup of tea.

‘Varinka, There is something very important that I have to say.’ He said in a serious tone.

‘Go on, I too have to say something important’ I said.

Okay! He took a deep breath and said, ‘I’m getting married next week’

I froze with that statement. Or I don’t know if it was my heart that froze. I started sulking. I couldn’t react.

‘I wanted to tell you this the day I went to Gangtok but I couldn’t’ he went on.

I’m so sorry Varinka, I don’t know what happened.  I…

With that, I stood up, kept half price of the tea on the table.

‘My share’ I said and I walked off.

I don’t know why, but, that was the only thing I could do at that point of time.

I didn’t realise that I walked off from his life the same time I walked off from the café.

We stopped talking and meeting.

He got married in another week. I could just stay home and scroll his facebook profile to see many new pictures of his wedding…

He seemed happy in all the photographs taken by my very good photographer friend.

It’s been years now and I’d stopped visiting cafes, for, his memories haunt me when I have to suffer with a smile.

He is now expecting a kid. 🙂

ENDS!

Keep reading and supporting. 

Much love,

Nisha Varinka Chettri.

Scroll to the end, check this author’s other pages. (Facebook and Instagram; Like and follow for more stories) ☺️

I was Sabre Rattled by the police (A.S.P) while I was doing my duty.

This is what exactly happened on 15th September…   

before bursting tear gas shells

(POLICE- before bursting tear-gas-shells) 

Friday, 15th September. 

Fresh violence boiled the town when the news of arresting 14 approximate picketers by the police spread like a wildfire. The mob gathered in the motor stand by 11 am took my interest. I was accompanied by my Photographer friend, BishanTriva.

Out of curiosity, I asked one of the agitators about their assemblage. We got to know the reason. We got isolated from the crowd and stood in front of the last shops in the left hand (from Mijju) side of Motor Stand.

Soon, the police arrived.

SP leading the troupe

(SP-Ajeet Singh Yadav leading the troupe)

We got in action, with our cameras.

The troupe was led by the S.P, Ajeet Singh Yadav.

We started shooting, the shutter sound and the action.

They started blocking the road.

‘Jai Gorkha’

The bikes were able to escape.

The vehicle which had the picketers was blocked. Police got down in an attempt to disperse the crowd.

MOB stopping police van

(MOBs stopping police van)

They started lathicharging.

Their intention was just to shoo away the mobs.

They were dispersed and the motor stand was free for them to carry on with their duty.

When the mob dispersed.

(MOBS dispersed, Motor-Stand empty.)

Out of nowhere, the Assistant S.P, Amlan Gosh came and shoved me with a baton in a full swing, using force as much as he could. 

It got it at the back of my heart. I couldn’t breathe for five seconds. Bishan caught me. We both were in the state of shock. 

The ASP, didn’t intend to hit Bishan. 

(I still don’t know what grudge he had, with me)

 

Amlan Gosh after rattling baton on me

(Amlan Gosh after rattling baton on me.)

Then I got back to my senses and I ran towards him, shouting ‘ASP, wait!’ 

Bishan followed me. I kept running till I caught him. 

‘On what ground did you lathicharge me?’ I questioned. 

Who gave you the authority to lathicharge? Answer me!’ 

This is not the first time that you are manhandling a Journalist’ 

 Then, Bishan started shouting at the ASP, ‘on what ground did you hit her?

 ‘Don’t argue’ said Amlan Ghosh and walked off. 

MOB in the backdrop.

(MOB)

The mobs started pelting stones to the place that we were standing.

We had to escape from stones. My back was already injured.

Our eyes caught an old man, injured from the wrath of Amlan, he was looking for a place to sit. He was in pain. He got hit on his (right) shoulder.

Old man got injured- by ASP

(Innocents injured in lathicharge)

We had to protect him from stones too. We had to rescue him and take him along.

Boom*Tear Gas Shell burst.

Our nose and eyes started burning instantly and we were filled with tears.

A strong irritation got stuck in our throat.

I started feeling the burning sensation on my face, maybe because of the reaction of gas with moisture caused by tears on my cheeks.

We reached Baradhuray and asked water to wash our face and eyes. We walked toward Dambar Chowk and saw just one scooter in the parking and that was mine. We parked the scooter near District hospital.

We could still hear the sounds of firing (of non-lethal bullets.)

Firing-non-lethal bullets

(Tear gas and non-lethal bullets)

My wing bone was injured and it was hurting awfully. We had taken most of the photographs in sequence. We had evidence of whatever happened.

We later reached our low-roofed-office which was suffocating enough because of the heat and its absorption by the aluminium sheet.

I called my editor and he asked me to do the medicals as soon as possible.

Bishan and I then left towards the District Hospital where my doctor friend helped me with all the formalities. I got my x-ray done and my medication started, that’s how my pain was eased and I could carry on with shooting (the second incident that took place around 4 pm.)

Action and Chaos

(Action and Chaos)

Before that we met the District Magistrate and narrated him the incident, he just said that he will look on the matter and take necessary steps. Which in other words mean, ‘yeah, heard it, now get lost!’

When we thought of meeting the SP, he was in Dambar Chowk. The second violence was caused because the mob pelted stones to Army vehicle. Police started firing and bursting tear gas shells again.

Police in action

(Police in action)

The situation was not right and I left home with a quick lunch at the hospital canteen, arranged by my doc friend.

In the other hand, Bishan’s girlfriend had packed dinner for me. Got it and reached home.

Then, mixed emotions drove me. I missed mom, I seriously wished that I had a dog with me. I was lonely, I was cold. But the amount of calls I received faded my emotions and I got back to my form.

Then, I took medicines and slept…

those who are not in uniforms are Reporters, this is how we have to work.

(Those who are not in uniforms are Reporters, this is how we have to work!)

Saturday, 16th September 2017.

I was finally able to meet the SP.

I was backed by my fellow workers, I narrated him the incident. At first he tried defending ASP wondering that he might have been driven by the mob-pressure.

I clarified that motor stand was empty and the crowd was dispersed. I gave stress to it saying that I have photo-evidence (in sequence) of the place and incident.

I also told him that I’d come with FIR against ASP, to which, he said that FIR is not possible but General Diary could be done. He explained that judicial matter would eventually land up in, Gosh paying a fine of 100 rupees, that’s it!

When I constantly talked about taking action, he said he will ask Amlan to give an explanation in a written form stating why he manhandled me, which will be sent to the DGP as he is now aware of the incident.

That way, an action will be taken and it will hamper his career while trying to upgrade himself as SP in the future.

He will also have to pay fine of 10,000 rupees, it seems.

I asked him to set a timeline so that I can get back to them to enquire about the action. Yadav assured me to wait for 7 days till I take help from the judiciary.

I have also demanded a press conference where ASP has to explain his excuse regarding the lathicharge. ASP was not around while we were in the police station. I asked SP to call him but he came the time we left from Thana.

I have also consulted things with few lawyers who have suggested me to write to the judicial magistrate. But first, they have to reject my complaint (in a written form) giving reasons why can’t they entertain my FIR.

(The PS where I am complaining can’t arrest their own police. That’s why only G.D can be done.)

Then the judiciary can play their role.

My co-workers have been really supportive, also my friends, editors, readers, and my well-wishers. I can’t stay silent without thanking all of you.

I’ll get back to you guys with more information and photographs shortly.

Till then, take care and keep supporting this Author.

 

Love and regards!
Nisha Varinka Chettri

BIRTHDAY BLAST !

Representative picture from google!


19 August 2017.
 

Booooommm* 

Checking time…. 

12:15 am.

Phone rings… 

Probably ‘Happy Birthday! call’

‘Hello?’

Hello baini, Darjeeling ma bomb blast bhayo! said the caller. 

‘What the….? Anyone dead? How many injured?’ I uttered. 

The phone got disconnected.

Then I tossed and turned. I couldn’t sleep. I was getting many birthday calls. I couldn’t respond. I was shaken up. I had never heard of blast in Darjeeling after I was born. 

2 am… and eyes wide open. My dog scratches its body making annoying noise in my metal gate. 

I somehow passed out to open my eyes at 7 am. My phone started ringing. 

Birthday wishes. 

Another call. 

Call. 

So many calls after that. 

Off to work around 2 pm after a whole lot of family drama.  

Internet restriction in the hills has badly hit the reporters along with others. Besides using twitter and Instagram, attaching and mailing documents are our priority. Gmail!

Carmichael ground.

View from Carmichael ground!


The swifts make a rapid fly above us and the frogs harmonise a symphony below. We stand in a different hill that is elevated from the ground. 
Heaven gently opens up to shower us the magical droplets of love. 

This is Carmichael ground, recently renamed as ‘jio-dara’ where people from all backgrounds are found fiddling with their phone. 

This gets so interesting to recall the days when we lazily sat on the couch the whole day spending time on our phone or laptop-updating statuses, posting pictures in Instagram and sharing the same in facebook again. We used to switch from one app to another for hundred times! 

The elders at home must be very glad with the idea of internet-ban because you respond to their call-for-dinner immediately these days. Else they call us for the fifth time and we were found chatting with someone in whatsapp .

Our habits have been changed after 18th June, when the government undemocratically blocked the internet service in the hills. 

So on 19th August, after riding back from chitray, I met my co-workers who were waiting for me in Carmichael ground. 

Photo shoot after singing birthday!

Greetings and blessings were received in abundance. Then they sang me a birthday song. Meanwhile, three of us (one photographer, one filmmaker and I) got isolated just to take few parched gulps of Jacob’s creek. What’s more beautiful than a bottle of wine in twilight with gentle breeze? 

Songs! 

I’m yours, Jason Mars to more than words with an amazing instrument-Ukulele.  

Luckily it was Saturday and my day-off. 

It turned darker. Songs, dance, and wine made a good combo. 

We all dispersed towards home in a very good mood. 

My Home! 

A set of friends waiting for me to knock the door so that the already intoxicated people could raise a toast in the name of my birthday. It was 8:30 pm when birthday was sung in a small, neatly arranged room. My sister had taken the effort to ruin it the next day. 

By the time wine was over I started strumming guitar for sometime. Then we sat and talked about the agitation that has been heading aimlessly towards a state of chaos. 

Starting from day 1 of the indefinite shutdown, I narrated the story till the firing that happened in Kalimpong after the miscreants torched the wine shop on 5th July. 

‘The S.P along with other police have been…’ 

Booooommmmm*

I was stopped by the sound of an explosion. 

10:15 pm.

I called my sources to find out that the blast was in the police station. 

It was a grenade blast! 

This agitation took so many arsons, vandalisms, lives and injuries to reach towards an unexpected incident of grenade explosion. 

This became a very sensitive issue, rather a controversial one. 

What actually happened, no body knows! 

The 5W’s and 1H of journalism was tickling me from within. 

I had to know. 

I had to find it out. 

Phone rings*

‘Hello? One civic police dead. His name-Rakesh Raut’ my source said.

‘What??’ Shit! No! 

What exactly happened? How did it happen? Are people okay there? I asked. 

‘No, two are injured, others are okay, I had to carry Rakesh on my shoulder and run to the hospital, he was declared brought dead’ He replied.

‘Okay, thanks. 

Goodnight.’ I hung up the call. 
What’s happening here? 

Why is it happening? 

Why so much of violence? 

Why to take innocent’s life that way? 

It was 11:45 pm when I started collecting informations to send it to my newspaper. 

I got more than 12 calls in between. Some called to give informations and some to receive. 

11:50 pm. 

Phone rings* 

‘Urgh, not again!’ 

Hello? I said. 

‘Hey, happy birthday, sorry I’m late’ he said… 

‘Something is more important than birthday.’ I said. 

‘What?’

‘The situation!’

Securities work actively after the explosion!