1

Becoming an author at 79.

IMG20180722175130

Monila De, after the launch of Unforgettable Kalimpong. 

About DE

Monila De released her first book, Unforgettable Kalimpong on 22nd of July, in St Augustine School hall. The book is about the early 50s when China was invading Tibet, Kalimpong was flooded with foreigners, the sudden influx of foreign nationals led Jawaharlal Nehru, the then Prime Minister; announce that Kalimpong was a ‘nest of spies.’

De, was born in Kolkata, and came to live in Kalimpong during the Second World War at the age of 3. She initially stayed in Kanchanjunga Kothi but she eventually moved into Monjula, in Atisha Road here, where she claims to spend her glorious childhood.

She did her schooling from St. Joseph’s Convent and graduated from Loreto College of Kolkata. She got married in Kolkata and has two sons, (she is also blessed with a grandson.)

Mrs De shares a very outdoor personality since her school days, where she used to play hockey and tennis. She was the only lady member of Kalimpong Tennis Club as she outshined in that sport.

Her hobbies ranged from making Japanese dolls to oil paintings but she excelled in photography which bagged her many trophies. She is also a proficient equestrian as she used to ride back home from school every afternoon.

She was just a housewife at the beginning of her marriage but in her later years, she started making wine and Chinese sausages which became very popular among her friends and family. Though she has now stopped making them, yet they are still being talked about by her friends and family.

She has rightfully given herself the title of a ‘party animal’ as she loves to host parties as well as attend them. She has also visited every state of India and has seen all the marvellous historical places of India.

She also enjoys going abroad once a year, especially to London, Wimbledon the Mecca of Tennis. She has visited all the countries, but she still prefers to live in Kalimpong where her heart belongs.

After her book-release, Monila De along with her friends joined for a small interview session with the authors of C&C at Coffee Day here at main road. The Question Answers are on the basis of our three-hours-long conversations.

WhatsApp Image 2018-07-29 at 4.42.51 PM

Interviewing at CCD

Q: I would love to hear your journey about, Unforgettable Kalimpong in short, how did you give birth to this book at the age of 79?

A: My journey of writing this book is pretty long. I am the time machine; I will take you back to the time when Kalimpong was a paradise.

As you see the cover of the book, it shows the picture of the house with a little girl looking at it. The house is MONJULA where I spent my wonderful childhood and the little girl is me. I always had this picture in my mind about the cover of the book. The picture of the house looks blur as if you are looking from the window pane, washed with raindrops. The back page of the book is the burnt remains of my beloved house Monjula. You can’t judge a book by its cover, but an attractive cover attracts its readers.

All the stories in my book have been covered in newspapers and magazines in the past, in fact, there are several people in Darjeeling and Gangtok who have preserved and filed them. For several years nothing has happened…. It did appear in the print and later people kept asking if I have stopped writing, I said No, a writer never stops writing.
Every time I go to town, people keep asking me this question, it had become quite embarrassing, my relatives and friends kept pestering me, especially my friend Uruna, who is mentioned in the book, keeps telling everyone that I am the Ruskin Bond of Kalimpong; this, of course, is a far pride. It was my cousin who sent my name, address, email, phone number to Notion Press in Chennai, after that there was no way to evade them, then they have printed the book to which they have done a good job, I think.

You have no idea what is to get your book on print if you haven’t done so already. Those innumerable forms I had to fill, the scores of time I had to correct the texts, which is more than difficult to give birth to triplets. Thank goodness for the machine called computers, the use of which I had no idea about, but it made life easier when corrections were at stake. Luckily the Rotary digital library had opened, and I was able to make use of it for days and months. I had neither typed nor had any idea about the use of computers. When I had done the corrections for over two weeks, suddenly everything disappeared, nobody could get it back.

The computer can be your best friend or your worst enemy, eventually, I had to get a laptop at home to do hours of work, and very often I got stuck. So, the nearest place I could run to was Chitra Bhanu, where the young man very kindly helped me.

I was a very good student at the school, but I constantly lost marks, as I never revised my work. You always have to pay for your sins, and I am paying for mine. I had to correct this book at least twenty times, and if you still find mistakes in it, it is not for the want of try.

Mistakes are writer’s worst nightmare. Then there are spellings, of course, my spellings are as bad as my handwriting. Most times I can’t read my own handwriting. The fat dictionary in my house is in tatters, after being constantly being used by Elizabeth- my friend, to correct my spellings, she also managed to type out my stories, since she can read my illegible handwriting better than I can. But then, when it came to putting it to the computer, she tried. One day the page went blank and she has not touched the computer since. I am not a professional writer, thank God, I don’t have to make a living by writing, I would starve then.

Writing is not a hobby or a pass time for me, it is a compulsion and a pleasure. I write about anything that pleases me, moves me or upsets me. These emotions I have to write it about and kept it out of my system. I write about people, places and experiences. I remember my past, like a lot of you all, but I can’t remember what I did yesterday, I want to write all that down before Alzheimer’s claim me.

If I don’t write even two lines a day I feel my day has been wasted, even if it means like writing a general diary to the police. I too envy those writers with great imaginations, who write fictions, who have produced books like Harry Potter, Frankenstein etc. I, fortunately, write only what I have seen and experienced, so I hope you will find all the real characters in my book interesting. I have met many interesting and famous people over the years here in Kalimpong. There are all gone, their memories will still remain with me.

They say a writer’s life is a lonely life, but it is not so, you are in the company of the characters that you are writing about and we often live in the past. It is an excellent exercise for your brain. In this book you will find, Nepali, Bengali and Hindi words in italics, which I have not translated, as I expect my readers to be smart enough to figure them out.

Q: How long did you take to finish this book?

A: Ohh, these are stories that I wrote a long time ago, they were sitting at home, stacked up. They have all been printed in magazines and newspapers, and I had never bothered to compile them together. My friends and relatives kept pestering me to compile them. And many people in Kalimpong who are fond of my writings wanted a book that they could read. I was dilly-dallying, trying here and there, not successful. Eventually, my cousin wrote to Notion Press and after that, they got in touch with me and asked me to do certain things, which was a long process.

Q: What were the ordeals that you had to go through during the process of print?

A: when I said I wanted to print some old photographs, (in the last few pages of the book) they were giving me all kinds of excuses. So Bharat Mani (member of Rotary) asked me to tell them to do it anyway, and they wanted 300 DPI resolutions, so I insisted them, because without photographs the book is of no use, that is when they printed all kinds of photographs and sent me the copies, I asked for more copies, but very unfortunately, they have not been able to send me even during the time of launch, but the book is available in Amazon and Flipkart.

Q: When are you preparing for your second book?

A: There are enough articles/stories that I have written (in the past) for another book… it is ready, but then I have to go through the horrible exercise of correcting them, and that takes time and energy like anything. So, once that is over, another one will be printed.

Q: What will the other book be about?

A: It will be about Kalimpong of more recent years, like… about the people of Kalimpong, people who were well known in Kalimpong, who lived here and who made a difference here.

Q: When did you start writing?

A: I started writing since I was a child, it just used to come, and I used to write and throw it away and forget about it, it went on and on for years but I had not done anything constructive like putting a shape and putting it together. I slowly started sending them to newspapers and magazines

Q: When did you start writing for newspapers and magazines?

A: Some 10 years ago.

Q: what are the things that you have been writing now?

A: I haven’t written anything recently, it’s just that I have written a lot of stuff before, now which I am trying to get together to separate sections of books…before I die, I better produce all the stories that I have got. The whole problem is, I like to write a lot of things, I write and forget about it, I don’t want to revise it and go through it… it is horrible. So the piles of handwritten things are stacked up in the house.

Q: Do you also believe that writing is an introvert’s job?

A: Not at all, I don’t believe that at all, and I am not an introvert.

Q: How do you feel to have a physical book in your hand after these many years?

A: Ohh, that’s the most wonderful feeling you can ever have.

Q: Had you been dreaming about this for a long time?

A: Yes, I had, and I had this particular idea about this photograph of my cover right from the beginning, and I wouldn’t have anything else, this (cover page) was what I wanted and nothing else.

Q: There are many writers in town lately, what advice would you like to give to them?

A: Writers, writers, and writers, all have different ideas about writings; you cannot give them advice at all. It is up to them to figure it out by themselves. Some write for their living, some write for pleasure, some write to impress somebody, or just for the sake of writing … it is something like that. There are so many categories of people who write for different reasons.

Q: What is your reason for writing, then?

A: I have no reason what so ever, as I said, it is a compulsion, I just have to write, otherwise I feel that I have not done something at all, I feel that my time has been wasted, whatever comes to my mind, whatever I see, I have to write it down and that eases my brain and makes me feel that I have done something positive. Whether it is published or not, it really doesn’t matter, what matters is to get it out of my system. That is important to me.

Q: You said that you have no idea about computers, how did you manage this book?

A: You have no idea, I had never handled one or never grew up with one, nobody ever taught me how to use it, I had a great difficulty, I have just learnt to type with ‘one finger’ and then the paragraphs go up and down, I have a lot of troubles putting it together (Chuckles) All that has been a nightmare to me. Jonah was there to help me (Jonah from the Rotary digital library) it was a huge problem when he was not there. (Out of the context, I am soon going to visit my son in America and he is a computer expert, which is an irony. )

Q: What was your time schedule to visit the Rotary library?

A: I am a very lazy, laid back person, after a good Bengali lunch, I take a siesta, and I had been used to it all my life, then suddenly, I have to get it going, therefore I used to miss my sleep, I used to lie down just for one hour instead of three, and then I would go off to the library, because I was determined to finish the correction, each time I correct it, the publishers wanted something else. Oh My God, I remember, it was hell. So those went on and on, corrections after corrections and eventually I said I have had enough, enough is enough. However, I spent most of my time there correcting the manuscript.

Q: How many times did you re-write the manuscript?

A: More than 20 times, Notion Press sent me the very last bit one day, and then they said, ‘Mrs De, this is the last correction you do’ so they sent me this whole manuscript and I went through it, and I only found one fine mistake, which was good. But now, while flipping the book, I find that they have made more mistakes than I have made, ‘printing mistakes.’

Q: My last question to you, Mrs De, with time we have seen technology evolving, how do you, as a writer, compare kindle with physical books?

A: When I write, I prefer pen and paper, it’s easy to sit in bed and write; you scratch it off and do whatever you want. But doing that in the computer seems so much simpler, but that has no personal touch for me. Writing in a paper is something where I have a personal touch. Even though it is difficult for corrections, it’s the same with books. We would like to touch it, feel it, smell it and look at the words, go back–forth, you have something tangible on your hands, and that makes a lot of difference, otherwise holding a tablet is ridiculous, there is no personal feeling towards it at all. For example, the National Geography magazine, such beautiful smell they had, I loved it.

 

(END)

De is very dynamic, it gave us immense pleasure to meet and interview her. I hope you guys will find inspiration in each answer that she has given.
We will be back with other local stories until then, take care and keep reading. 🙂

Regards,
C&C

Advertisements
0

Maghay Sakrati and Taruls-but why taruls?

 

makar sangrati (1)

WooHoo, Happy Maghay Sakrati.

Have you ever wondered about this festival? Why do we eat weird food like tarul and fulauro on Maghay Sakrati? Well, let’s take a dip here.

It was known that the forefathers offered their agricultural cultivation at the confluence of Relli-Teesta, or even at Beni especially on 1st of Magh or around 14th or 15th of January which brings ends to the winter solstice.

The festival is kicked off after taking bath at notably auspicious rivers before the break of the dawn, the women of Nepali community starts boiling tarul- the edible roots like arrowroot, cassava, yams, tapioca etc. Then the preparation of other popular items like ‘fulauro’ the fritters made out of buckwheat is mandatorily prepared and exchanged with the neighbors.

These days, the customs have evolved to taking shower at home at a feasible time and not before the break of the dawn, (who can take bath with river or spring water at winters?) and yeah, the ready-to-eat-food has been serving many tummies ever since modernization took over this town and of course, pizza is delivered at our doorstep before it gets cold.

Interestingly, people say that the forefathers who grew old then, could not reach to the riverbed and prayed from the cliff where the confluence of rivers could be seen as they offered the roots and other agricultural products to the sun god from the overhang, locally known as ‘daras.’ It evolved then. Slowly to, offering the cultivation at the fields, then in the kitchen above the furnace, to… almost not eating taruls now, as 80% of the people here don’t plant their own taruls. Do you agree with this?

Maghay Sakrati or Makkar Sangrati in Hindi is the first festival of the year which slowly brings other festivals closer, closest being Holi-the festival of colors. When this author asked people ‘why roots and not other delicacies?’ none were able give an appropriate answer, however, a man in his mid 60s after quaffing the ‘jaar’ (the local alcohol made out of millet-served in a bamboo container) at Maghay Mela, in Salimbong, walked intoxicated, to say that even the richest family in olden times did not have choices in menu as time just offered roots and other agricultural products and not cakes and burgers.

His idea did make sense to me, as the home-delivery of pizzas or delivery of any food from the restaurants was out of their imagination. Mind you, there were no restaurants, no mobile phones, and no internet then.

However, at haat bazaar… Oh! Do you like haat bazaar? Or have you visited haat bazaar lately? For the ones who are wondering about haat, let me tell you that haat bazaar is an ancient local market which comes to life every Wednesday and Saturday with fresh vegetables to the rest of the groceries. If you had visited recently, you may have noticed the wide varieties of roots for Maghay Sakrati. People living around Kalimpong had been visiting the town just buy roots and buckwheat for Sakrati for past one week.

makar sangrati (2)

The edible-organic-root-sellers said that people bought the blue-cassava (ghar tarul) more than any other root in her shop. While the young customers said that they are fond of tapioca.

I briefly stood for quick chitchat while a customer was buying some taruls. When asked why Taruls? Priyanka Chettri who had come to haat bazaar to buy some roots yesterday, plainly replied, ‘I don’t know the reason why we eat roots at this festival, I don’t even know why do we celebrate this festival, all that I know is we have been eating tarul and fulauro ever since I was born, I have not asked my parents the reason behind eating all these, I will go home and ask them today’

The sellers who had been in haat bazaar till late-evening yesterday were heard murmuring about today’s rush. ‘Ajui belka tarul usinnu parcha hola’ (I’m sure we have to boil the roots tonight itself), they said while they started packing up.

Such festivals and the atypical customs keep our culture above the ordinary. If you liked this post, please drop me a thumbs-up and please follow this blog. Eat lots of fulauros and spread love and more love.

makar sangrati (5)

 

Lots of Love,
Varinka.

 

 

 

 

0

APPA featuring Dayahang Rai~ Poster Unveiled

Appa Poster

After making noteworthy films like Anmol Chhan, and Chaya, the versatile director, Anmol Gurung is set to offer a package of all emotions in one story- APPA, penned by Gurung himself.

In the poster which was unveiled in Katmandu today, we can notice the finest actor of nepali-chalchitra, Dayahang Rai who is featured in the film with the role of a father, however, the two novices, Siddharth Tamang and Allona Kabo Lepcha are introduced as a teenage (school-going) couple (as displayed in the poster) which will indeed be a plot for most of us to retrospect.

We can undoubtedly ascertain from the title that the cinema is about the significance of a father, who is a genuine hero in everybody’s ‘real life.’

On the other hand, the crew of APPA, who is now in Katmandu later disclosed C&C through telephone that the film also featuring the most known faces, Tusli Ghimiray and Aruna Karki. The cinema, produced by Ruden Lepcha, is said to be released on the father’s day week, next year, particularly on 7th June 2019 in Nepal and 12th June 2019 in India.

Stay Tuned for more updates.

3

Dear Law

nisha

 
Dear Law,

I am one working female, practicing a tough profession like Journalism for past five years in a place called Kalimpong which has a population of 2,51,642 approximate people. My name is Nisha Varinka- and I have been raising voice each time during injustice.

Being a feminist first, I react to problems related to women in a different way, be it a domestic problem, or problems with harassment, or eve teasing, groping, molesting or RAPE. Besides that, I am concerned about what intention does a male carry-when they pat a girl on their back. I get worried when an unacquainted male stares a female continuously for 5 seconds. I get anxious when a male follows the footstep of a female, (in a literal sense) in a quiet gully.

Little did I know, about the aforementioned subjects that could happen to me? How would I react? How would I react if somebody- an acquaintance or a stranger was to trespass my residence at 2 am and slide my window in an attempt to climb in? How would I react on opening my eyes in a sound of the window dragging in pauses? How would I react when I am an independent woman earning the bread and butter and living alone for an easy access of my profession? How would I react when I myself have been an activist working for women and their welfare?

FREEZE!

That is exactly what happened during the first week of August, this year.

Who trespassed? Whose hand was it which was found on my huge-sliding-window? Whose half-face did my sister and I see?

What do you call it in psychology? Post-traumatic stress disorder? Panic attack? Or Sulk in general? I experienced them all-The attempt to ‘ATTACK’ in general.

My bed is accurately attached to the window pane. Okay, let me consider that he climbed the window. Would he trespass my residence at 2:06 am just to say ‘Hi?’ My sister started shouting ‘Chor-Chor’ he did behave like a thief, but he was not in an intention to steal anything because he skipped three rooms walking from inches left outside the window, risking his life to slide my window pane… He was not there to steal anything.

I called the police the next day. I told him that it was definitely not a thief, but, someone had come with an intention to attack. Exactly!
We, (police and I) checked the CCTV footage which my clever neighbor had installed around their house- CAPTURED at the exact date and time. He had fled while my sister had shouted chor-chor.

He was arrested by the police immediately. But was bailed the next day.

Court Procedure*

Blah Blah Blah Blah…

Okay, what evidence??

Evidence?

Evidence?

Evidence?

Wait…

He did not get to commit any crime, did he?

Wait, What???

Three months after the incident. He walks in town as if nothing has ever happened. He parties and drinks around, making merry. And his relatives supported him to bail him with tricks. What could you do? Could you punish him? No, the law is in our hand! What do you have? You don’t even have valid evidence? Do you have any evidence of him climbing your wall? No! You lose the case.

Then, those girls were like that. They did this, they did that, they laugh loud, they were short dresses, they this, they that, they stay alone, blah, blah… Girls are always wrong from the perspective of society. Girls are incapable. Girls are weaker. Girls are to be blamed. The society comprises of almost 50% females these days. The irony is, the females are the ones to talk about the girls ‘being like that’ in a literal translation from the ‘Nepali-lingo.’

Mockery, Defamation, Offend…

I see him around me walking with pride because I was unable to have a visual proof of him climbing my wall and sliding my bedroom’s window. I get shivers when I hear footsteps of my neighbors at night because I was not able to place the evidence which had his face while he was trying to enter my room. I get late at work, it gets darker early, I see him intoxicated in the parking lot, where I feel he is stalking me or following me because he had his family to bail him when they all had seen his face in the neighbor’s footage (which was on my phone) and they had asked for an apology on behalf of their son. The parents had admitted that it was their son. But in the vision of the court, he is just an accused because he is not proved guilty yet.

Okay, let’s forget everything!

Had we been in a deep sleep at 2 am that night, and had he entered the room, at least, I wouldn’t have been alive writing this today.
To intend a wrongdoing mentally is also an offense, and to be silent about it is also an offense. The police did their job right. But I have no evidence.

Dear law, now you have to take care of my safety. The circumstance that I had been observing for past three months is making me write to you today, for it is you who did not understand a safety of a working woman, or, it is you who overlooked or could not identify the hidden intention of a man.

Dear Law, I also don’t want the country to come together burning candles and marching a peace rally when I am raped dead.

 

Jai Hind.
Nisha Varinka. 

0

The story unsaid of that night. 

poem blog

You are that poetry where I love to revisit often, just to reread the old lines and be happy for some time. I can never call you a fiction because you, live in me. Till today, for life, till eternity…

Varinka

You wanted to see her, yet you refrain. Your reality is harsher than hers, you feel. She is there thinking the same. Both of your thoughts are at par with each other.

You give her a call thinking you would finally say it. She feared your reality and left the call unanswered. You couldn’t try harder, for, you were something else, to her, and to yourself.

Time passed without knowing. You kept wishing to see her, while she kept missing him. Both stories untold. She was the thought induced in each of his whiskey shots. He was the poem she wrote every night.

Isn’t a year too long already? His intoxication whispered. He wrote a long message and eventually erased. He did not know but he always did that. At the other end, least she chose to be a poet and not a courageous lover.

The mood, energy, and courage~ his Smirnoff breath and his eyes moist with the same, she finally said ‘Honey, say it all tonight.’ Still, he restrained, I don’t know why… ‘I will say it at the right time’ he might have thought.

The mood like that of a poet and artist, if the idea vanishes-the same never gets its shape at the eyes of the mind. Can you imagine her face? The sentence structure and words you choose to say her tonight in your mind will never be the same tomorrow, in reality.

‘I will never forget my words’
How she wished that he was a poet to understand what it means to miss a word and never be able to get the exact sequence in the paper like the way it was in your mind the other night.

Stubborn was he, the liquor made him a different person. Maybe a good one. He expressed his thoughts on her-not his heart or his feelings which was purely placed at the white sheet of his heart-to the purity!

It was beautiful. He will never be able to explain what he felt that particular night, with stars twinkling above him and the breeze of the autumn-night below. He was lost in the beauty.

She was afraid that he will never wake up with that particular feeling. He could’ve said it. That night. He could have just said it. The break of the dawn and everything is over.

He did not write to her at the odd timing.
He did not try calling.
He did not bother anymore.

But the effort that he put, that night, was beautiful for her-For life.

She did not ask for anything more. She understood him and walked away!

The story unsaid of that night.

0

On the shore of the river

nnnnnn

 

Background song never played when we accidentally met behind the traffic congestion with the twilight adding more and more chills and then, the autumn gust spiraled up and down. It was cold.

We talked about the corruption, hates, somebody cheating someone, luring someone in the name of employment and trading them to the countries so alien to them.

He sounded worried that day. He wanted to do so much for the ones who are away from the advantage of the basic necessity, in other words, to those, who are dwelling in poverty. He always told me that I should never give up on the little campaigns that I call time and again.

I don’t know where is he today.
All I know is he is so far away. Death would rather seem closer.
I wonder.

I sit by the shore of the river and think, think about the corruption, hates, somebody cheating someone, luring someone in the name of employment and trading them to the countries so alien to them.

I exhale…

I am alone, I can’t do this alone, I need you… I whisper.
My phone suddenly rings, and it was an unknown number.
It was his best friend, who told me that he looked for my number for a year now.
He gave me the news that Varun died a year ago.

I kept staring at the river…wondering, and realizing, death would never seem closer.

Then the flashback hit on the top layer of the waves, the sound of the river and his giggles, I heard in the depth of my each ear. The background was then played eventually-A melancholic one!

I BROKE DOWN and the fishes heard me.

I crumbled down.

 

0

Hiccup

N upload blog

I woke up and it felt like waking after a ‘comma’ because my mind was so blank and I did not know what to think straight after waking up. I roughly dabbed my bed, looking for my phone and it was found next to my left knee.

I checked only to see ‘No notifications’. ‘No messages.’

I remember the time when I woke up with piles of texts that not just made my morning but also made my day.

Then, I suddenly got a hiccup, so strong and it lasted till the time I don’t remember hiccupping.

The time-morning was the exact time when we both were at the rush, we both had a complicated profession where we had to deal with people, many people in a day. Still, we had time to exchange thoughts with each other.

*Hic

We never expressed our emotions and feelings but we did talk about the nights without moon and with stars, about a novel which we both had, though, we were 5 kilometers away from each other-we read the same page, about movies which I never watched, and about the poem which he never read.

*Hic

We talked about how the newly risen shone bright and how I popped in his dream the other night, just to say hi.

*Hic

Every evening he walked into my life, so perfectly, as if it was a dream. I would pinch myself and spill a bit of tea from my cup in front of his arm- No it was not a dream. It was so real, still, I felt it was impossible for me to be in front of him, or impossible for him to be in front of me.

*Hic

I remembered the color details of his check blazer and a tiny logo on the left of his black shirt. I remember his well-combed hair and the fragrance of his cologne, and I remember how ‘accidently’ we happened to brush our hands with each other one evening-and trust me, that was the most amazing touch that I ever felt.

*Hic

I remembered him so much, that I unfolded all the notes he had written to me, I still don’t have the courage to burn them down because he lives in me, in each of my words that will form a book one day. He lives in my teacup, in my journal, in my dreams, in my music, in my poetry, and in my unsent notes.

*Hic

I cried because I never had the courage to tell him how much I loved him. I cried because it killed me each day to understand that he belongs to somebody else. I cried because I will never be able to tell him all these things to which I write an ode today.

*Hic

I did not realize when my hiccup stopped. It was afternoon. I received a message from him. It had been long enough that my phone last read his name. He wrote:

Did you think of me today? I got a strong hiccup and surprisingly stopped after I saw your post on Instagram, it was your photo…it was your face…it was you!

End.

0

The fascinating journey of ‘THE MOUNTAIN SOULS’

Mountain Soul at Kalimpong (2)

Music is the only freedom that relentlessly exists- with freedom of thoughts, speech, expression, and creativity.

Ever since the world was created, music was found in the sound of the rivers winds and thoughts. Creating music word by word and strums by strums, a lad from Kalimpong, Tenzing Dhonyoe, along with his team-Mountain Souls featuring Gaurdeep which includes Lakpa Sherpa from Darjeeling and Hitesh Pradhan from Siliguri along with Gaurav Meena and Pradeep Sati, two beatboxers from Jaipur and Delhi respectively have reached the top-five of ‘Dil Hay Hindustani’ a music reality show, telecasted in Star Plus.

The emotions and pride of the people from the hills have still been shining with the hanging festoons over the town. Kalimpong welcomed ‘The Mountain Souls’ on the 21st of September. Their concert was held in Mela ground with people of all caste, creed, and background- stepped down, in the marshy ground, despite the rain, without umbrellas, to watch them LIVE.

Mountain Soul at Kalimpong (1)

It was known that a flood of support is coming from the people of the entire world for the Mountain Souls. Meanwhile, speaking to Menduk Tshring, Dhonyoe’s father through telephone, he said that he always told his son to look for a government job as there is no lasting career-opportunity in Music or art, especially for the ones who are born in the hills.

Tenzing, on the other hand, has been outwitting everyone with his talent ever since he started singing ‘Tibetan Opera’ at school, and somehow, proving the statements of his father wrong.

Dhonyoe did his schooling at Central School for Tibetan at 11th mile, and later pursued Psychology from Sikkim University. It was also known that he was teaching music in Sikkim for past one year.

‘Tenzing wanted to study in a music-college at Kolkata; I told him that there is no future in music and asked him to drop the idea, moreover the total fee in the college would have come around 5 lakh which was unaffordable, he then studied at Sikkim University, but each time he came home at his vacations, he used to play guitar and sing’ said Menduk Tshring. (Father)

Menduk also admitted that he wholeheartedly wanted his son to opt for some other profession, ‘a government job’ to be precise, however, he also confessed his pride to watch his son ‘live’ while he was performing at town hall, some years ago, with his band Doodles.

‘He went for an audition when his mother was paralyzed and admitted at a hospital in Siliguri, I was disheartened as he would leave his mother in such condition just for the sake of singing, he was working as a music teacher in Sikkim then, he went. He said he got selected, I still reminded him about the ‘government job’ he then went Kolkata for another round of audition, I said that it is a waste of money, he got selected. He, at last, said that he has to go Mumbai- he got selected. The show started in April and seeing him reach there has given us immense happiness. Now it doesn’t even matter whether he wins or not’ added Menduk.

Meanwhile, Tenzing, Lakpa, and Hitesh, later expressed how important it is for them to work and function as ‘one’ in the stage.

‘It has been an awesome journey and we learnt many things, especially to stand as one while being in a group to support each other in every aspect’ said Hitesh Pradhan, from Siliguri, who after his college, worked in a hotel reception for three months. He later got an opportunity with a band and started doing shows at pubs.  He later formed his own band named “EASY VIEW.”

It was known from Hitesh, that he has never taken a professional training. ‘I learnt guitar for two years when I was in 6th standard, I was a Metalhead and had a band named “chaotic vision” which was a death metal band when I was in class 12, we stood second in a metal fest at city center, but the band was fragmented after class 12’ he said.

Meanwhile, Lakpa said that they were later trained professionally and got vocal coaches who groomed and trained them for their songs and acts episodically.

‘We met many celebrities and shared the same stage with Kumar Sanu, Sukhwinder Singh, Shaan, Benny Dayal, Himesh Reshamiyaa, Suresh Wadkar, and Amit Mishra’ said Lakpa, who hails from Tonglu, Darjeeling.

Lakpa too is not a trained musician and it was learnt that he got inspired in music from his school teacher, Pema Lama.

However, when asked about the creation of the group, performing as ‘Mountain Souls featuring Gaurdeep’ at the stage of Dil Hay Hindustani, Hitesh made a point to say that he met Tenzing and Lakpa in an audition which was held at Sky View Hotel, Siliguri.

‘Our mentor was present there to take the audition and combined us and made us a group… we were called to Mumbai for another round of audition, there we met Gaurav Meena and Pradeep Sati, both beatboxers, who joined us in the group, that is how we are together as Mountain souls featuring Gaurdeep.’ Hitesh said.

They also expressed their excitement to meet legends as in singers, like Asha Bhosley where they got good comments n knowledge. Along with actress Rekha, who praised and motivated them. However, Mountain Souls have been the favorite contestants among the rest for the three judges of the show.

‘Now we are at top 5 which is just a step away to become the finalist of this show’ said Mountain Souls to this author.

Later, Lee Karthak, the drummer of Doodles, said that the reason why Doodles became Doodles is all because of Tenzing Dhonyoe and his unique power of vocals.

‘It gives me Goosebumps every time I listen to him, Tenzing is a very jolly and kind-hearted person, he is always ready to help, and he deserves the stage. On behalf of all the Doodles family, I wish my brother-the Tibetan Elvis and his tea a very best of luck’ said Karthak.

END.

Mountain Souls

P.S- Please make a point to vote for the Mountain Souls featuring Gaurdeep.
Give a missed call on 18008439702

 

 

0

15th September 2017, My back still aches, One year, No Justice yet.

I walk a lonely street in Kalimpong town and enter a random café with my companion or co-workers, a group of people would already be there. my friend would shake hands with all of them and greet them and later introduce me to them.

I think I have seen you somewhere’ anyone among them would say.

Yes, she is a journalist…writing for a national newspaper, you know she got beaten by the police last year in the agitation?’ my companion would say and they would recognize me with that pick-up line, and that would become a moment of humor which would last for some time, but do you really think it is a joke?

An independent woman, who had served three years in a college at some city, away from home to learn the ethics of Journalism, ends up in the field of Kalimpong covering the (Gorkhaland) Agitation from ground zero, giving factual information to the people to get a blow with a baton from an Additional Superintendent of Police to make my identity for the rest of my life? Really?

Gauri Lankesh was murdered, we blew candles and silently marched the town or a city, recently a scribe was attacked in Malda- all the press clubs of the region condemned, wrote memorandums to the administrations, but do we really think of the solutions? Will submitting memorandums to the District Magistrate help? Will he even read it? By the way, what is happening with the case of Nisha Chettri?

Where is Amlan Ghosh today? Where is the justice that I have been seeking? What happened to the fourth estate of the constitution? Where is the voice? Why does everyone hate journalists so much? And where are my answers?

By tomorrow, I may get threats to remove this post, I may get mockeries, and hate-messages, but I care less about that.

However, there is one thing I would want to make everyone clear, ‘reporting is my profession’ like controlling the mob is yours, lying to the judge to defend and protect your client who is an accused is somebody else’s, dressing the wound of a victim who got hurt in a stone-pelting incident is again somebody else’ and showing the right insight with truthful writing in the public domain is mine, so why do you want to stop me when you can’t stop any other professionals from their professions?

We journalists should stop boasting with the pride to belong somewhere in the constitution. Fourth Estate? Scrap it. Press Freedom? Where? Freedom to Express? Damn Where? And what the actual fuck is all that? Where can we experience them?

Journalists are never a part of a crowd or a mob. All the khakis should get that straight. Journalists are always on duty. Get that straight.

Within one year of the incident~ when Amlan Ghosh used his baton while I was taking photographs of the mob-police clash, I still see no end to Journalist attacks.

I NEED JUSTICE. I STILL NEED JUSTICE.

NISHA VARINKA CHETTRI

2

The Tea Table~with Varun.

bloooggg

Write happy or write sad!

These days I am much engaged with news report writing at my desk with many other keyboards rattling rhythmically. I don’t understand the frustration of hitting the enter-key so hard till today, yet, all of us, at the newsroom, does that.

Winding up work prior to 4 pm is harder than you know coz we scribes make the best procrastinators. We usually take it up to 5 pm to meet our deadlines for sending our copies to the desk.

I was to meet Varun today, at 4:30 pm at Taelohs’ cafe— it had been three years that Varun and I last met. Varun had left for Dubai and was working in Khaleej Times after he left Kalimpong. We both were almost in love but things did not work as we (or rather I) wanted.

He mailed me last night, questioning if we could meet, and without any confirmation, he had written that he will be waiting for me. So, I chose not to reply.

The questions wrestling in my head were- should I go? Or should I not go?

Should I go? Because we had spent so much of time together-understanding each other, mending and fixing each other.

Should I not go? Because, he did not bother to be in touch as he left for Dubai, for reasons unknown, I was waiting for his email every day when I used to skip a beat when my phone used to notify a mail from matrimonial.com

It was that bad.

Should I go? Finally won the wrestle, because I was convincing myself at the back of my mind that he has to say something really important, while I was still typing the conclusion of my news story.

Mail sent.

I took a deep breath and flipped my notebook, packed my bags and walked from the office. I reached the parking lot at haste and realized that I forgot to get my key from my office. *Replayed the entire episode of going back and started my scooter to reach the said cafe while I was racing with trucks and Maruti vans.

I entered the cafe which is in Primtam Road, it partially took me away from urbanization to unwind for some quality hours with rounds of tea, of course with a great companion- that’s what I had been thinking the whole time.

I was trying to divert my mind from nervousness that I had been inhaling and exhaling.

Varun was not there, I checked the time, and it was 20 minutes more to be 4: pm.

‘Really?’ I was talking to myself.

Since I was already there, I asked for a cup of tea, for the first thing ever tried in new cafes has always been tea. Well, I have worked as a copy-writer before, the punchline below the menu that reads, ’you don’t look too broke to try one…’ really impressed me, I smiled to myself.

‘Your tea’  said a young boy with wavy hair.

Thank you-

My cup of tea was placed on the table, their effort smelled in the fragrance of the curly steam.

‘Whose idea was to write this?’ I asked, pointing at the menu.

‘Haha-mine’ He said.

‘This is so cool’

‘Thanks, enjoy the tea’ he said and left.

In another minute, a soft music- perhaps avenged sevenfold- perhaps-warmness on the soul- was played in dimmed volume. I flipped the pages of my poetry notebook and started scribbling a poetry.

‘Obituary.

Our love was like a war,

We kept fighting,

To get there.

The war could not appease,

And at the end, I saw him,

Loving someone else.

Partially-passionately.

We fought, it was a silenced month.

I didn’t understand, 

whether that was a fight,

or just a phase of life.

 

Hence, I did not choose a sword,

To fight,

But rather removed the S (from the sword)

And placed it at the edge of D,

And killed him with my words.

He died in that war.

His death from my poems pained me.

But keeping him alive would destroy me more.

And I, therefore, wrote his obituary.’

*end*

 

‘Old habits die hard eh?’ Someone said.

I could identify the voice, though it seemed like he was suffering from cold.

‘Varun’ I stood up, and we hugged each other.

‘You still do this, right, Varinka? Cafe writings?’ We were still hugging.

Suddenly, I was very emotional, I did not answer him. I felt comfortable in his arms, I really longed for a hug. I was deprived of such physical contact. I didn’t want to let go of him. I dried my tears in my eyes.

‘Where were you, Varun?’

‘Why didn’t you write to me?’

He was silent.

Maybe, we often did this, like talk in silence… maybe we talked telepathically?

Next moment, we were sitting against one another.

Varun took a deep breath and said, ‘Varinka, I know you were and still are upset for I lost all mode of contacts with you. I regret doing that, I really shouldn’t have done that but I had to in order to make both of us concentrate on our works, I know how serious you are at your work and I didn’t want to be a distraction because I was also aware of the fact that you loath departures and it makes you sick, and calling from abroad just to say ‘I miss you’ would torture you more. Believe me when I say I missed you terribly. You know, all I wanted was you to grow in these years, better as a writer and bolder as a journalist, you were always on my mind and I always kept you alive in my journals that I wrote every night. I too had a selfish reason, I too wanted to grow monetarily and professionally, so that I could get back to you, matured enough to foresee the future that holds for us, Varinka, it was tough and very hot there, (smiled) I worked my ass off so that I could be with you today’

‘Here, this is for you’ he handed me a journal, with a brown hard-cover.

‘Varun, do you want to drink tea?’ I asked.

‘Are you still pissed?’ He replied.

My tea was cold already.

I exhaled.

‘I am sorry, Varinka, I know it was my mistake’ he said.

‘But you too ‘unsent’ all the messages in Instagram. He added.

I stood up so that I could walk off.

He caught my hand immediately, came closer, knelt on the ground and said, ‘Varinka, today I tell you, I really love you, I had fallen in love with you some the day I saw you first at Dambar Chowk, you were fat but beautiful (smiles) we drank many cups of tea together, talking about life and writings at various cafes, though there were fewer cafes then, I was in love with you even then when we bunked work around the second week of my first job and entered Paris Cafe when Bohemian Rhapsody was playing at the background, I still love you the same today, in fact, more, Varinka, will you marry me?’

There was a ring, reflecting the light of the cafe’s tungsten, Varun was still on the floor, looking into my eyes.

Before I could say yes or no, something happened, I could see in the reflection of the mirror behind Varun that I was pale, as if I had been painted with a whitewash, my body numbed, and with one step backward, I crumbled down like a puppet who was suddenly released with all the strings.

The last thing I heard was the cup and a saucer breaking in slow motion.

*BLANK

 

Love
~Varinka.