August 2006

31 Aug 2006 11:42 pm IST

Set to mark time, again


Kalimpong, Aug. 31: After lying mute for years, the clock atop the Raja Dorjay tower at Kumudini Homes here is all set to chime again.

Kumudini Pariwar, the school’s alumni association, has decided to pay for the restoration, nearly two months after The Telegraph published a report on the two long-defunct clocks of the town. The other clock is atop Georgina McDermot Memorial Tower at Dr Graham’s Homes.

The association will meet soon to work on the project, but the preliminary estimate for the restoration is Rs 2 lakh. “We will organise a concert in between Dasai and Tihar (Puja and Diwali) to raise funds,” said Gaulan Lepcha, local MLA and an alumnus of Kumudini. He will make a guest appearance at the concert with his band, Unitarians.

While the 99-year-old clock at Dr Graham’s Homes was damaged in the 1968 earthquake, the exact year in which the clock at Kumudini (in picture by Chinlop Fudong Lepcha) stopped chiming is not known.

“When the British went, they left behind the clocks, but seemed to have taken along the admirable virtue of punctuality with them,” said Lepcha, who promised to contribute from the MLA fund.

31 Aug 2006 01:54 am IST

15-hr wait as landslides hit hills

Malli/Kalimpong/Darjeeling, Aug. 30: Landslides caused by heavy overnight rain claimed two lives in the hills, while the main road-link between Sikkim and the rest of country remained blocked for close to 15 hours.

A number of houses were also damaged as more than a couple of dozen landslips rocked the Kalimpong and Darjeeling subdivisions.

Sundar Chettri, 50, died after a pile of mud fell on the tinned shop he was sleeping in at Warling Golai on Upper Cart Road in Kalimpong town. Milan Tamang, 43, the wife of a police constable, was buried alive inside her house at Sundhara Goan in Dali, 4 km from Darjeeling town.

The biggest landslide occurred on NH 31A at Labarbote near Malli, 18 km from Kalimpong town, around two last night. Traffic was eventually restored around 4.45 pm today. (more…)

29 Aug 2006 07:05 pm IST

Lepcha threat

Kalimpong, Aug. 29: Local GNLF legislator Gaulan Lepcha has threatened to take out a rally to a National Hydel Power Corporation (NHPC) project site at 27th Mile near Rambi here to protest against the damage caused to National Highway 31A allegedly due to the power major’s project on the Teesta.

“The NHPC must repair the road at the earliest. Otherwise, I will mobilise residents of Kalimpong and march to the project site… I am willing to face any consequences of my action,” said Lepcha, without specifying the date of the proposed march.

27 Aug 2006 09:06 pm IST

Sun salutes marching band

Kalimpong, Aug. 27: Even the weather gods are game for a little spectacle.

In fact, they made their intentions pretty clear when the skies miraculously cleared for the Second Inter-School Marching Band Contest at Mela Ground here this morning.

The grand show, which was held up by torrential rain, got underway amid huge fanfare as hundreds of people gathered at the ground to witness the spirited display put up by schoolchildren from the hills. (more…)

27 Aug 2006 05:10 pm IST

Fun Sunday in the offing

Kalimpong, Aug. 25: An unlikely combination of music and muscles is expected to make for an exciting Sunday in the hill town this weekend.

The fun begins at 9 am with the Second Annual Inter-School Marching Band competition at Mela Ground here. And at 1 pm, the focus will shift to the nearby Town Hall, where the Second Gorkha Hill Classic Bodybuilding Championship will be staged. (more…)

24 Aug 2006 11:11 pm IST

Choppers rev up for hill ride

Vivek Chettri

Darjeeling, Aug. 24: The choppers are back to rock the hills.

As those in love with their mean machines will know, a traditional chopper is a home-built bike that is customised according to the needs and fancies of the owner. Often all excessive accessories, that hinder the bike’s power, speed and looks, are stripped off. The machines are arrayed in a collage of striking colours and stickers made legendary by the bikers of the 60s and 70s.

Steven Dhendup Bhutia, the owner of the Kalimpong-based SJ Choppers, is now ready to roll out beauties for the bikers of the hills. “I have just finished a chopper and I have named it Hot Rod Chopper. I am now ready to start commercial production,” he said.

The 28-year-old computer science student builds the machines himself, though he does not have any formal training in bike designing. “It was my obsession with bikes since my school days at St Augustine’s here that has given me courage to venture into the business.

Bhutia’s chopper is modelled out of a 350cc Royal Enfield and local expertise has harmonised the charms of the “outlaw ride” with the luxury of modern comforts.

“I love the 60-70s era bikes and wanted to make a chopper that reflected the old school of choppers. These are such a welcome relief from those boxy motorbikes that have flooded the mainstream market,” said Bhutia, who does graphic designing for the bikes.

Chopper builders usually style their bikes according to their biking philosophy but Bhutia is ready to shed his preference for the biker’s choice.

While the first chopper cost him around Rs 25,000, Bhutia claims that a chopper can be built for as little as Rs 10,000. “It depends on the needs of the biker and the total time to make it will range from 6 to 12 weeks,” he added.

24 Aug 2006 11:05 pm IST

Students boycott classes

Kalimpong, Aug. 24: Students of Kalimpong College boycotted classes in the second half of the day to protest against alleged teacher atrocity. The teachers, meanwhile, have demanded that a student be expelled for assaulting one of their colleagues yesterday.

The Kalimpong College Students’ Union, affiliated to the Gorkha National Students’ Front, the students’ wing of the GNLF, said the boycott will continue tomorrow as well. (more…)

21 Aug 2006 04:54 am IST

Paper out of jumbo dung- Forest dept takes idea from Japanese expert

Alipurduar, Aug. 20: It all began when the Japanese elephant expert handed over his calling card to the Indian forest official.

The card, said the expert, Yukio Kawaguchi, was made of paper manufactured from elephant dung. The kind of diet followed by the pachyderms, he added, ensured a lot of fibres in their excreta and a Thai company used it to manufacture hand-made paper.

The conversation took place at Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary in February this year, when Kawaguchi along with the director of a zoo in Japan had come to India in search of a couple of elephants to take back to their country.

The idea caught the fancy of P.T. Bhutia, the conservator of forests (wildlife), North Bengal. His department had long been grappling with the problem of disposing the heaps of dung accumulating in the sanctuary’s pilkhana (elephant stable), which sometimes lead to the animals developing infection in their legs.

Earlier attempts to manufacture manure out of the excreta had been unsuccessful, but Kawaguchi’s words provided Bhutia with a new plan.

“I immediately contacted Nsangbu Tshering and Sonam Bhutia, the owner and the technical expert of a Kalimpong-based hand-made paper manufacturing company,” said Bhutia. “They were very enthusiastic and wanted us to send the raw material.” (more…)

18 Aug 2006 07:45 pm IST

Padris Journalism Award to Priyadarshi

This article should have been published in the 1st week of July, but better late than never.
Much thanks to the author, Charisma K. Lepcha.
Padris Journalism Award to Priyadarshi
By Charisma K. Lepcha

Fourth of July is a big deal for Americans. They remember the birth of their country.

Fourth of July is beginning to be a big deal for Hill people. They are beginning to celebrate the birth anniversary of a long forgotten pioneer.

Born on July 4, 1851, Padri Ganga Prasad Pradhan was not your regular Darjeelingay. While assisting Scottish missionaries with Bible translation work from English to Nepali, he was attentively grasping the workings of the publication world.

In due time, he was to buy the mission orphanage press, rename it “The Gorkha Press,” and start a monthly publication called the “Gorkhe Khabar Kagat.”

Commenced in 1901, “Gorkhe Khabar Kagat” became your monthly update of local, national, and international news. Older than Nepals “Gorkhapatra,” World War I reports, earthquakes in Myanmar, Darjeeling Hockey Cup account and random general knowledge information all found their places in the pages of this publication. From the available copies of “Gorkhe Khaar Kagat,” it is estimated that an average of thirty-six news reports were included in one single issue.
Besides news reports, “Gorkhe Khabar Kagat,” published home rental adverts in Aalu Baari to matrimonial classifieds. It has been assumed that the publication could very well sustain itself from the ad revenues.
Publishing a collection of news reports with world wide coverage from a faraway hill station was highly commendable even for this day. In a way, “Gorke Khabar Kagat,”had revolutionized the Nepali Journalism world. Padri Ganga Prasad Pradhan was to be the father of Journalism in the hills.

Unfortunately, he has been an inaccessible figure. People do not know much about him and he remains lost in the pages of history.

Accused of being a proselytizer because of translating the Bible, people stray from talking about his other contributions. But he was not just limited to religious translation work. He was a teacher, an author, a reporter, a poet, a lyricist and a pioneer in many ways.

Today, there is an attempt amongst teachers, authors, reporters, poets and lyricists to un-ignore the contributions of a man lost for more than a century.

On July 1, 2006, Kalimpong Sahitya Uthaan Samiti organized a program at the Ramkrishna Rangamanch (Town Hall) to celebrate the 155th Birth anniversary of Padri Ganga Prasad Pradhan.

It was where the first ever Padri Ganga Prasad Pradhan Journalism award was presented to a reporter whose contribution in the Nepali Indian Journalism field was remarkably significant.

Having spent the last 26 years with news dailies, weeklies and monthly publications, the award was presented to Mr. Samiran Chhetri “Priyadarshi,” a Darjeeling born reporter currently residing in Siliguri.

Thrilled on being the first recipient of this award, Priyadarshi called to honor the man who started it all. In conclusion of his acceptance speech, he urged the concerned crowd to revive the “Gorkhe Khabar Kagat.”
Karthak, Solon. 2001. Padri Ganga Prasad Prahan ko Jeewan Bakhan, Kalimpong: Sarikar Prakashan, reprinted in 2002
Karthak, Solon. 2006. Gorkhe Khabar Kagat ko Ubaru Khabar, Kalimpong: Paper presented at the 155th Birth anniversary celebration of Padri Ganga Prasad Pradhan.

16 Aug 2006 09:11 pm IST

Hill town reels from heat Crops and tourists spared the blow

Kalimpong, Aug. 16: The hill town and its neighbouring areas are reeling under an unprecedented dry spell, with the temperature soaring three or four degrees above normal.

While the weather conditions are yet to have a major impact on agricultural produce or the flow of tourists, it has greatly affected the everyday life of ordinary citizens, not used to so much heat.

“The sub-Himalayan areas of north Bengal have not witnessed such unusual weather conditions in the last ten years,” said Subir Sarkar, in-charge of the weather station at the North Bengal University (NBU). (more…)

14 Aug 2006 11:33 pm IST

School band to give I-Day a miss in Kalimpong
Diwash Gahatraj
SILIGURI, Aug. 14: The all-school parade march on the Independence Day at Mela Ground in Kalimpong has always been a colourful event, but the locals would miss a colour this year, as the blind students of the Salvation Army Mary Scott Home for Blinds are not participating in the I-Day extravaganza.
The students from the blind home have always been known for their excellent band music played during their march past session. It has almost been two decades since the SAMSHB students have been performing in the Independence Day celebrations in the sub-division. But due to the unavailability of the senior students, who used to handle the school band, the schools authorities have decided not take part in the event this year. (more…)

10 Aug 2006 10:56 pm IST

On top of world for 30 minutes

Kalimpong, Aug. 9: Enormous mental and physical effort — these were exactly the qualities displayed by local boy Manoj Dahal as he summitted Mount Everest.

Dahal, belonging to the 107th Battalion of the BSF posted in Delhi, was part of the six-member team of mountaineers of the border force, which scaled the highest peak on May 20. He became the first Everester from the subdivision.

Back home at Chivvo Bustee, 8 km from here, the 26-year-old, however, made light of his feat. “I was among the six who scaled the summit. We were literally on top of the world,” he said. The team spent around 30 minutes on the peak, marvelling at the snow-capped mountains. The expedition was flagged off on March 8 by Union home minister Shivraj Patil and flagged in on June 23.