While chatting with him, I got to know that his name is Biren Ghatani – once healthy until 2003, he progressively lost strength below his waist. Despite a decade-long search for a cure, none could be found. He turned adversity into opportunity, self-learning the art of knitting.
Kalimpong sits comfortably on the Himalayan Belt, one of the most earthquake prone areas in the world. As there hasn’t been a major earthquake exceeding M8 in the last fifty years, the town has grown and expanded, seemingly oblivious to the dangers lurking underneath the surface. How many buildings have been built without proper procedures against earthquakes, how many people furnish their houses according to taste rather than safety, and how have you planned for the worst possible scenario?
As a newcomer, you might question your decision to leave the bustling city life behind for this seemingly remote place. However, as time passes, the rustling leaves of majestic trees, the melodious chirping of birds, and the gentle breeze work their magic, infusing an atmosphere of peace and serenity. One can’t help but feel the blessings of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore.
Teesta has massive siltation level, thus it is certain that the siltation level of the river will raise staggeringly with the construction of a series of dams and the sediment load will be trapped within the reservoirs, reducing their production capacity. This, in turn, could compel dam managers to release water during heavy rainfall, causing sudden flash floods downstream. Further, the NHPC has failed to undertake the study on the cascading effects of Dams (i.e. in case of dam breaking at the top what will happen to subsequent dams), which is likely to occur in coming days.
Every town worth its name has its own set of ghost stories. Kalimpong, considering its various past influences has several sets of it. Its Bhutanese, Colonial, Tibetan and Gorkhali influences have all left behind their ghost who haunt Ghost Story enthusiasts till this day. In fact this town even has Bihari spirits to add to the cosmopolitan flavor.
I cannot take names, you may call it professional ethics, but when I look back at some of the love letters I wrote then, I still choke with laugher. I recall a few; one was for a girl from St. Joseph’s Convent by a classmate of mine. After three days of momos and alu-chops and chini-pops, which I received as bribe to write that letter, I wrote a letter which included the line, “I have a disease and it’s only cure is you”. It was carefully copied down by the Romeo in his own handwriting and dispatched through a Postman, not before spraying the letter paper with Old Spice perfume stolen from his father’s bathroom cabinet- the postman was always a junior student who had to be pampered and protected. After several days of restlessness and sleeplessness came the reply. I still remember a fattish envelope being delivered to him. He opened it as quickly as he could and out came his original letter, torn to a hundred pieces, and it was accompanied by a chit which read “MADNESS IS A DISEASE CURED IN MENTAL ASYLUMS, NOT BY LOVE”…
This Toy Train, a wonder of engineering, was set up mainly to cater to the then blooming Tibet trade through Jelep-la for which Kalimpong was the most important entrepot. One can say that the existence of The Teesta Valley Branch of the DHR coincided with the golden period of Kalimpong’s past.
Kalimpong, a small non-descript town of just a few thousand inhabitants, because it was in the right place at the right time, was catapulted to world fame and riches in the early and mid 1900s, in the process becoming one of the most important and famous town of its size, in British India.
Calcutta High Court bench of Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay has today ordered the demolition of a property situated below CST School in 11-mile Kalimpong by midnight tonight (14th of Aug, 2023).
The case concerns a three storied building constructed by one Mohammad Saifulla, son of Sheikh Jahiruddin of Topkhana, 11 Mile, Ward No. 7, Kalimpong. This construction was challenged by Sh. Bir Bahadur Blon, a retuired school teacher, who claimed that the construction was done on his ancestral land.
The report takes note that “the tea garden workers in Darjeeling hills, Terai and Dooars do not have land or ‘Parja-Patta’ (land rights) on their ancestral tea growing lands. To dwell on their ancestral homes, they must send at least one family members to work for the tea company. On failure to send a family member for work, they lose their rights to live on their ancestral lands. Since the land rights are vested with tea company, there have been instances when the aged workers having no children were denied the right to even repair their houses on their ancestral lands.”