Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Shangrila

I have been reading a book on Kanchendjonga by a contemporary journalist in Sikkim.Kanchendjonga-a  sacred summit.It made a compelling reading for the fact that it has been written by a sikkimese for one and it is a farely comprehensive ,well-researched book written with a heart of an insider(i am not too fond of the word normally).
As I travelled home from Siliguri to my place in the north,I felt nostalgic and  sad.The beautiful drive home by the riverside was different with grotesque colonys of similar looking cold cement flats ,electrified to the hilt covering the prime lands near the river.Dams had been built and the normally turbulent ,spirited and wild  teesta had been reigned in to contain the waters-it looked strangely still waiting to be exploited to the hilt .As I travelled further north I saw a sight which gave me a reasonable amount of clarity and insight into the situation.I saw a group of young lepcha youths working on the road-side as labourers.I was so stunned by the sight that I did not realise that I had been oggling-they hid their faces.In my lifetime ,I had never seen them do that.Now there is nothing wrong with doing an honest days work but there has always been an un-written rule in Sikkim that the road-works and public daily wage works atleast in the north are done by the migrant labourers exclusively(Sounds almost biblical).
These gentle,protected folks from the himalayas who a decade ago had been hailed by one of their own as 'my vanishing tribe ' were being forced by circumstances into the mainstream -and they were not prepared for it.
Going back to the book I was reading, the author has done a two-paged write-up exclusively about Thomas Merton's visit to then Sikkim.Thomas Merton was a trappist monk who belonged to the Abbey of 'Our Lady of Gethsemani',a roman catholic and prolific spiritual voice of the twentieth century.His quote-my thoughts-summed up-
'There is another side of Kanchendjonga and of every mountain-the side that has never been photographed or turned into post-cards.that is the only side worth seeing'.

1 comment:

mimi said...

lovely writes, the last few..