Home is where, your heart is and the heart of Kalimpong is in Damber Chowk. If you live in K-Town and have not spend two minutes at the Damber Chowk, believe me, you are missing the zest of the town.
Damber Chowk doens’t stand tall like Chowrasta or like MG Marg Road, it actually stands flat to watch it’s people eye to eye. Everyone from a porter, labourer to a Bank Manager or a Businessman likes to spend their valuable one or two minutes at the Chowk, to witness the town standing firm in the four arms of the Chowk and see it progressing at a rapid pace.
The Damber Chowk named after Damber Singh Gurung is one such destination where you can meet your old friend from the town even at wee hours of the morning, as morning walkers and joggers begin to appear at the Chowk while many ventures out to walk their dogs early morning.
However, the Chowk is infact not the destination for the K-TOWN people, it’s just a meeting place where they begin the journey for the day. The early morning at Damber Chowk is dawned with labourers and workers mostly migrated from Nepal, Bihar, Siliguri and some are locals. They gather at the Chowk to look for jobs for the day. They are daily wage earners. They mostly work at construction sites or are hired for manual works by some jobbers.
Damber Chowk has seen many agitations and strikes, the walls of the Chowk is always adorned with posters and slogans. The Chowk is of so significance to the people of the town that it’s ears catches the first news in the town, and its lips spreads the unwarranted rumours all around the town. News, whether be of birth or death, marriage or divorce, fortune or bankruptcy, jobs govt or private, allegiance to one party or another, there’s nothing unheard of at Damber Chowk or unspoken of at its alleys.
At Damber Chowk you can find drivers plying their vehicles, intellegience officers prying for information, contractors eying for labourers, gamblers trying their luck, businessman convincing their customers as well as lovers sighing in the corner. All this happens, yet in a subtle way, moreover that’s the beauty of Damber Chowk.
Damber Chowk is not just a mere junction, nonetheless a meeting point of those who just comes to say hi also for those who are always high, for the office goers, including the vegetables growers, for the showoffer as well as the whistle blower..
If you are at Damber Chowk then you can know who are employed and the unemployed, who is drunk or who is sober, who had come to drink chai and who are lovers of fry. Only if you spend two minutes everyday at the Chowk, you will come to know of a barber and a banker, an abuser or a moviegoer, a rascal and also a principal, the price of an apple or the town’s biggest scandal.
The most lovely thing about this place is to hear the chatter of the people around, you can hear an old man complain, teenagers murmuring passwords and username, what’s in the public domain, pals calling out each other’s nicknames, funny and strange surnames, imported names of champagne, COVID protocol being proclaimed, and in public how an activist exclaim. You really never get tired of the tittle – tattle around you.
The busiest street in Kalimpong however reflects the culture and tradition of the town, the clock tower is one such symbolic pedestal at the Centre of the Chowk. Important politcal rallies are conducted from the Chowk, festivals rallies too begin from there. So, after standing for two minutes at Chowk, it would be difficult for you to remember who bumped at you whilst you were standing and how Damber Chowk overwhelmed you in its subdued way. For you can be proud of that you have spend the happiest two minutes at Damber Chowk .
As Kalimpong doens’t live in the new malls and shopping complexes or pubs, it beats in the heart of Damber Chowk …It will always live there forever…
Writes: Chandan Pariyar