Well writing this one is tough, as it is the Hard Truth! I’m not sure where and how to begin…let me try it this way.
For those of you not aware and acquainted with Kalimpong, this small little town sitting on a ridge (my hometown) is located in the lower region of the Eastern Himalayas in Darjeeling district. I am not taking you down the history which is all together another interesting read of it’s own.
In time, the British (read Scottish for Kalimpong) set up hill-stations while they were based in India. Along with it came the missionaries in setting up schools, hospitals, churches etc. The local people from different communities and religion all of them who came from simple and humble background got excellent education and in due course, this educated lot ventured outside the region for work. Some decided to stay away and many of them returned, I presume it went this way for many decades. People were happy, content and satisfied with everything they had or did not have.
The times have never been the same since the 1980’s, during when the revolution for wanting a separate statehood away from West Bengal came into being, the want and fight for ‘Gorkhaland’. It has come at a huge price; many lives lost, many families broken, politics, guns, corruption, opinions, ideologies all of this and so much more were born to this uprising. It has been a very expensive affair ever since, the hills have now lost it’s peace, unity and stability. This fight has been going forever with different parties coming to power and promising the same dream of ‘Gorkhaland’. It has achieved nothing but infighting amongst our own people, the breakaway of communities, the instability of the land and people….perhaps it was never thought about or considered at what cost, the fight for a separate identity, a separate statehood continue.
I have been living outside Kalimpong myself since 2002 and go back to my family every once in a while, my being away from home has allowed me to live in some beautiful parts of India, remote locations and big cities. Where ever I go, something or the other always reminds me of home, of Kalimpong. But in the last many years, I notice that there has been a change in our community, modernisation has gotten the better of us, what we thought and considered change to be, has happened for the worse. We have been losing our heritage, culture, customs which should’ve been rooted in everyone of us. We can always dream big and achieve success but not with losing our identity, our ROOTS!
Along with my family, we worked on a project in setting up a farmstay, PaliGhar the idea being to reconnect to our roots, to try and preserve the art and culture, heritage and customs, cuisine etc. of our land and people. These have been passed down and handed over to us by our ancestors for generations with the hope that we protect,safeguard and pass it onwards, unfortunately we are throwing it away and not wanting to take the responsibility of safeguarding and passing in forward. It may not be considered a cool quotient in today’s world?
Visited home recently and spent decent time in knowing more about the present situation of the land and people. The SAD and HARD TRUTH is that not only our custom, heritage, culture is on the risk of falling apart but moreover our society itself is losing out. I am no preacher nor support any political movement. But what I did notice, observe, hear, see is that the cool quotient has been the DRUGS! It’s killing people, families and there’s no one to answer or be responsible for such acts.
It’s sad to note that a daily wage earner who slogs his ass out working the fields, has to sell their lifetime’s savings, his wife’s jewellery and so much more, all for the sake of their child’s drug habits. This is not fair and it should never be…but this is what reality is. So many such stories exist.
In this fight for Gorkhaland, people have been so fixated by this revolution that they have forgotten to live (correctly), they have no idea about what’s right and what’s wrong! The instability has either resulted in people migrating to other lands for better well being or for those that remain behind are caught up in the fighting. It’s heartbreaking to think of such things, the youth need help. There’s no ‘ROLE MODEL’ for anyone to look up to…we have killed it all!
By way of writing this post, I hope that some of you may consider travelling to the hills, to Kalimpong. Trust me when I say it’s still so beautiful and innocent. A change is needed. I hope with seeing people travelling (for those who cannot go out), they are able to learn more about what life has to offer beyond our thinking and mindset, beyond Kalimpong. I hope they will find in you, Role Model’s who are missing and they have been looking for, by way of your travels there, I hope they find the need to travel themselves and stay clear and clean from negativity. Deep down I hope they remember to carry on being rooted to their home, their people, their land, customs, history and heritage!
I hope for a better Kalimpong!