01 Mar 2013 10:53 pm IST

Kalimpong native’s #talesontweet

Back in 2011 Kalimpong native Manoj Pandey had a brilliant idea… A twitter handle, @TalesOnTweet, that tells tales … in 140 characters.

The challenges of succinctness, and of brevity versus narratives soon found many a follower & contributor, including giants like Salman Rushdie: [She died. He followed her into the underworld. She refused to return, preferring Hades. It was a long way to go to be dumped.], and actor Kabir Bedi [On the bank of the Ganges, he'd prepared a thousand funeral pyres, not knowing the sorrow of death. Till his son died.]

TalesOnTweet now has a contract for an illustrated e-book and a paperback version. These will contain tweets hand-picked from the hundreds that have been contributed by writers around the world.

20 Feb 2013 04:41 am IST

Hill outfit (People’s Forum) to file bandh PIL

The People’s Forum has said it will file a PIL (public interest litigation) against the recently announced series of strikes.

From The Telegraph

Darjeeling, Feb. 18: An anti-Gorkha Janmukti Morcha outfit has said it will file a PIL against the latest round of strikes and bandhs declared by Bimal Gurung that would “only serve to harass the common public”.

If the general secretary of the People’s Forum, Pravin Gurung, does go to court, it will be the first time in the hills that any person or outfit took legal recourse against any shutdown called on the sensitive issue of Gorkhaland.

Pravin Gurung today said: “Everybody in the hills is in favour of Gorkhaland, but in the past we have seen that the closure of government offices and the general strikes only serve to harass the common public without yielding any positive results.”

He added: “I have consulted my lawyers in Calcutta and we have decided to file a PIL against the closure of government offices and strikes in the high court this week.”

The Peoples’ Forum said the strikes would not only inconvenience students appearing for various board examinations but also hamper tourism which is the backbone of the hill economy.

The 48-hour bandhs — on March 14-15 and March 21-22 — and a government office strike from March 9-27 could directly affect the HS examinations scheduled to be held between March 13 and 26, though the Morcha has said it will keep the examination calendar in mind. Madhyamik begins on February 25, while the ICSE and ISC exams are scheduled to start on February 27. The examination papers are usually sent by boards in advance and kept either in the treasury office or in bank vaults.

A Morcha leader said: “We will definitely exempt all examination-related departments from our agitation.”

Reacting to the rivals’ charge, Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri said: “These opposition parties are against the formation of the state and that explains why they are opposing the agitation.”

Giri said: “Only today, we received a letter from Sonia Gandhi, where she has acknowledged receiving a letter written by our party president on January 21 demanding Gorkhaland. The letter, written on February 6 states ‘I have noted the contents (of Gurung’s letter)’. It is a proof our party has been able to bring the demand to the notice of all national leaders.”

20 Feb 2013 04:38 am IST

Morcha signals March offensive: Bandhs back, CM blamed

From The Telegraph

Kalimpong, Feb. 17: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has announced a series of shutdowns in the Darjeeling hills from next month to demand Gorkhaland, blaming Mamata Banerjee for forcing its hand and virtually taking away a peace trophy from the chief ministry’s showcase of achievements.

In a throwback to the days of unrest, two instalments of 48-hour bandhs have been called on March 14 and March 15 and March 21 and March 22. The bandhs will be book-marked by other protests and a rally.

See chart:

“The government of West Bengal has pushed us to agitation. Mamata Banerjee has pushed us into it by forcibly interfering in our affairs. She came to Darjeeling and slapped us by saying Darjeeling is a part of Bengal. She made utterances like ‘I can be rough and tough’. Just like she fought for ma, mati, manush, we are also fighting for our ma, mati, manush,” Morcha chief Bimal Gurung said in Kalimpong this morning.

Gurung announced a staggered schedule for the “limited programmes in the third and final agitation for Gorkhaland”. The protests will begin with an across-the-board strike at government offices on March 9 and end with a public rally in Sukna on March 31.

05 Feb 2013 05:41 am IST

Bimal Gurung threatens to quit GTA for statehood movement

From The Telegraph

Darjeeling, Feb. 4: Bimal Gurung today said he would soon resign from the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) Sabha, the council that runs the Darjeeling hills, so that he can devote himself fully to the statehood movement.

“I will resign from the GTA in a few days. The Sabha (the 45-member elected body formed under the GTA Act) will sit for a meeting after which I will resign so that I can be fully involved in the next phase of the Gorkhaland agitation,” Gurung told a party meeting at the Darjeeling Gymkhana Club.

The declaration of intent adds to the headaches of the state government that has been at the receiving end in the hills since Mamata Banerjee raised sensitive issues during a meeting at Chowrastha and provoked a backlash.

Gurung referred to the chief minister’s speech last week. “She acted like Hitler. What does she mean by ‘rough and tough’? Many chief ministers have visited the hills but no one spoke like her in such a bitter tone. No Gorkha should tolerate such statements,” he said.


The move is being seen as an attempt not just to prove his sincerity to the Gorkhaland cause but also to keep the wheels oiled for a renewed agitation if a Telangana state comes into being.

The resignation will help Gurung reassure his core constituency that he has not put personal privileges above the statehood movement. At the same time, the absence of any other leader matching Gurung’s clout will ensure that his writ would run in the council even if he is no longer the chief executive, Morcha sources said.

Gurung said: “Only I shall resign from the GTA. I will not ask the 45 elected members or even the chairman and the municipality commissioners to resign. From now on, no one should come to me for contract work but only for Gorkhaland.”


Gurung today said he had purposely decided not to sign the memorandum of agreement of the GTA. “The agreement was signed by the party’s general secretary Roshan Giri. It was for a reason I had not signed on that document,” he said. “It would have been binding on me.”

A Writers’ Buildings source said the government saw no reason to be apprehensive of Gurung’s “empty threats”.

“He (Gurung) stands only to lose, should he give up the post of chief executive. We don’t think he would do that. It will be extremely difficult for him to pick a successor,” said the source.

“As far as his logic of not being a signatory to the tripartite agreement is concerned, there is no legal or constitutional basis to it. Roshan Giri (the general secretary of the Morcha) signed the agreement as the authorised signatory of Gurung. Besides, not signing the agreement does not make it easier, or more difficult, for Gurung to pull out of the post,” the source added.

10 Jan 2013 04:17 am IST

PhD dissertation – Kalimpong Kids: New Zealand as destination for the mixed-race offspring of British tea planters in colonial India

Very cool.

Jane McCabe is a PhD candidate at the university of Otago (New Zealand). She is studying the early ‘Anglo-Indian’ students of Dr. Graham’s Homes for her dissertation: “Kalimpong Kids: New Zealand as destination for the mixed-race offspring of British tea planters in colonial India”.

Here’s a link to her academic profile, and a link to the Kalimpong Kids site that she maintains.

From Yahoo

The fate of 130 Anglo-Indian children, educated and sent to New Zealand for a better future, is being recorded by a University of Otago PhD candidate.

The children, known as the Kalimpong Kids, were removed from their families at a young age by a Scottish Presbyterian missionary in the early 1900s.

Though all have since died, Jane McCabe, whose grandmother was one of the children, is recording their story through their descendants.

Dr John Graham set up the St Andrews Colonial Homes, at Kalimpong in the Darjeeling district of north-east India, to save the illegitimate children of European tea planters and their Indian or Nepalese mistresses – workers from the plantations.

Miss McCabe says Dr Graham felt the futures of these loved, but mixed-race, children – product of two cultures and welcome in neither – should be improved given their European blood.

His school aimed to educate the children in English, give them manual and social skills, then, when they were 15 or 16 years old, send them to the more egalitarian colonies, where a job had been found for them. Boys arrived to work on farms, and girls had contracts to work as domestic help.

Miss McCabe says family stories and records show that the relationships between the fathers and mothers of the children was mostly genuine, and only prevented from being formalised by social restrictions.

However, few of the children saw their mothers again, and some families have no details about her identity, as the children were often removed at a very young age.
Several had relationships with their fathers later in life though, including Miss McCabe’s own grandmother, Lorna Peters, who had arrived in Dunedin with five others in 1921.

Her tea planter father came to live in Dunedin and Lorna lived with him until her marriage, then he lived with her family the rest of his life.

Miss McCabe has traced some of the New Zealand families of the original Kalimpong emigrants, and her PhD will answer questions about why New Zealand was the only colony which accepted the children in large numbers until emigration stopped after thirty years in 1939.

As well as an oral history from families, her research includes access to the diary Dr Graham kept when he visited New Zealand in the 1930s and sought out every one of his former students.

15 Aug 2012 09:26 am IST

Happy Independence Day 2012

Happy Independence Day to all dear Kalimpongeys..

.. featuring Kalimpong’s little Yangzam.

(Thanks to DestinedNomad for the video)

15 May 2012 04:00 am IST

School for rock guitar

From The Telegraph


Kalimpong, May 13: If you have been toying with the idea of playing the guitar and rock is your style, a music school in town can guide you in your journey.

A rock guitar school that offers its students certificates from an England-based music institute started here last month.

It is the first institution in Kalimpong to provide training in rock guitar.

Rock School set up by guitarist Clement Lepcha is functioning from Haat Bazar near here and has a tie-up with an institute by the same name in England.

Lepcha said students of his school could complete their courses and apply for the exams that the foreign institute conducts every year.

“There will be eight grades in total. We have started with the first two grades. Twelve students have already enrolled in our school,” said Lepcha.

Examinations are held for each grade. Lepcha said guitar classes were held every Saturday. While the admission fee is Rs 1,500 for each student, the monthly fee is Rs 800.

“We will be shifting to a permanent place at Dungra Busty in 11th Mile. As of now I am the only qualified teacher. But I will recruit more teachers as the number of students increase,” said Lepcha, who has a degree in classical guitar from Trinity College of Music, London.

Although guitar is very popular in the hills, there are not many schools that provide expert training in the stringed instrument. Darjeeling has a school for western classical guitar, but Lepcha’s school is the first in rock genre.

Lepcha said the training would include both practical and theory lessons.

Norden Lama, the 39-year-old bassist of rock band Flames, and a student of Rock School, said: “I have been playing the guitar for 24 years now. But I don’t know how to read the notations. I learned guitar on my own but now I want to learn it in a systematic way.”

Lepcha said the annual exams for this year were scheduled for November. The tests would be conducted here.

15 May 2012 03:59 am IST

After Sino-Indian trade route through Nathula, now Jelep-La is in the line

From The Economic Times


SILUGURI: It is time for the beginning of summertime Sino-Indian trade through Nathula pass. Despite lot of initial buzz, the trade route through Sikkim’s Gangtok to Nathula could not meet the expectation in last 9 years since the Sino- Indian agreement on this. Now revival of the older Sino-Indian trade conduit, Jelep-La, through Kalimpong in West Bengal- is on the line that can meet the expectation.

A proposal on this has been filed earlier by Union Finance Minister Mr. Pranab Mukherjee during his External Affairs Ministership. The matter is at present under consideration of ministry of Commerce and Industry(MOCI)- informed Mr. Mukherjee when asked.

MOCI urged Government of West Bengal to submit a report on the commercial viability, nature of possible trade, benefit of the state and region and availability of infrastructure in both sides.

Subsequently, “Following state Government’s urge, CII has prepared and submitted a report to the relevant authorities advocating for consideration of the proposal,” said Ms. L. Kaushal, Secretary, CII NB Chapter.

Jelep La(14,300 ft) the best accessible Indian path to the silk route through India-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction was on use for centuries by Indo-Tibetan traders to transport wool, musk, yak tails, skins, spices, gold, tobacco, silk or cotton – till 1962 Sino-Indian war.

“Once a poney track, is now a 575 km-long motorable road running from Kalimpong to Lhasa via Chumbi Valley and Yatung in Tibet that can be easily revived,” said Mr. J P Agarwal(85), once a trader himself through Jelepla from Kalimpong that still carries old signs of roaring trade.

“Due to its inherent critical geophysical characteristics, the trade route via Nathula from Gangtok needs to be operated with limited load. Opening up of Jelep-La, geophysically stronger one, may come out as a better alternative,” said geologists.

In 1993, the then WB CM Jyoti Basu also wrote to the then PM of India P V Narasimha Rao- “It appears that only Nathu La in Sikkim will be utilised for Sino-Indian trade purpose…Along with Nathu La, Jelep-La in West Bengal also [ought to] be considered.”

15 May 2012 03:53 am IST

Push for tourism plans

Via The Telegraph


Morgan House in Kalimpong being spruced up on Monday. Picture by Chinlop Fudong Lepcha
Darjeeling, May 7: The state government has put together an elaborate plan to woo tourists to north Bengal and is getting ready to surprise holidaymakers when they step into the region in October, which is the start of the next season.
“We will come up with 30 Swiss cottages in the Dooars and the hills. Renovation of Morgan House, Tashiding and Hill Top (properties owned by the West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation in Kalimpong) has already started. We will also improve the Darjeeling Circuit House and the Darjeeling Tourist Lodge. We plan to finish most of our work before October,” said Singh.
The task force wants to promote adventure and water sports in a big way in the hills. “We want to hold camps for angling and pitch tents in places where rafting has started.” said Singh.

15 May 2012 03:50 am IST

Football club sets eyes on I-League – Kalimpong boys get england-trained coach

From The Telegraph


Kalimpong, May 6: A football club was formed here today with 25 players who want to make a mark by playing in the second division I-League seven-eight years from now. The boys are being trained by a coach who has an international degree.

Share Football Club is Kalimpong’s first organised soccer club with dedicated players under a three-year contract.
The club has already qualified for the local A Division League this year.

“We won the B Division League last year and we hope to do well this time. All our players are from Kalimpong subdivision. Since all of them are students, we are providing stipend for their education. We are also taking care of the accommodation and food of the players from outside the town,” said Lepcha.
Lepcha said the club was paying the tuition fees for footballers who study in schools and colleges. Players from outside the town have been put up as paying guests in Kalimpong.

The players practise in the playground of Dr. Graham’s Homes school.

01 May 2012 04:48 am IST

Sillery beckons holidaymakers – Home stay and local cuisine on offer

Good to know more eco-tourism and village tourism locations are being developed in Kalimpong.

From The Telegraph

Kalimpong, April 30: A tiny quiet hamlet nestled between thick forests that was unknown to many even two years ago has become a popular tourist destination now.

Sillery, 4km off Pedong, is located on the ancient Silk Route that connected India with Tibet through the Jelep La pass in Sikkim.

Unlike in earlier times when there was not a single place to host a visitor, there are as many as 10 home stays which can accommodate around 70-80 tourists at a time now.

Out of the 33 families in the village, 10 have taken to operating home stays over the past two years. Sillery is 25km from Kalimpong.

Sebastian Pradhan, who runs a home stay at Rishi, 23km from Sillery, said each house in the village had kept aside two to four rooms for tourists.

“All the rooms have attached washrooms with modern fittings. The home stays have a combined room strength of about 30,” he said.

Pradhan was the first to introduce village tourism in the area after setting up his own eco tourism resort.

He added that over the past two years, more than 2,500 tourists had visited Sillery for a day or two.

Once in the picturesque hamlet, tourists can walk to Ramitey viewpoint, Damsang Gadi and Pedong. From Ramitey one can get a majestic view of the Kanchenjungha and the Sikkim hills.

“The view of the Teesta river from Ramitey is unique. One can see the river for the longest stretch from this place as it meanders through the valley below. Damsang Gadi has the ruins of a fort built by the last Lepcha king (Gyabo Achuk). Visitors can also do rock climbing at Damsang,” Pradhan said.

Ramitey and the fort are about a kilometre away from Sillery.

Most of the villagers used to earn their living by farming earlier.

“Tourism has now become the main source of income for them. Visitors, too, are happy to come here and spend a day or two. Most of them tell us that their stay has been very pleasant,” said Biru Tamang, who was among the first to start a home stay in Sillery.

A double room at the home stays is priced between Rs 500 and Rs 800 for a night.

Visitors can also opt for a combo offer of lodging and food that costs between Rs 500 and Rs 700 for a person per day.

“The home stays serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. The cuisine is mostly local and visitors can opt for either vegetarian or non-vegetarian items,” said Pradhan.

For most tourists, the beauty of Sillery lies in its silence and serenity.

“It is such a quiet and peaceful place. It is far better than overcrowded Darjeeling. If I get a chance, I will definitely come again,” said Subhadip Gana, a tourist from Calcutta who spent last night at a home stay along with his family on their way back from Sikkim.

01 May 2012 04:45 am IST

BSNL notices to defaulters – Telecom major tells hill customers to clear dues in 15 days or face property attachment

BSNL is now sending legal notices to customers who haven’t paid phone bills. With threats to recover the dues by attaching customers’ properties.

The bills have remained unpaid due to the non-co-operation movement by GJM from April 2008.

From The Telegraph

Darjeeling, April 30: BSNL has started sending legal notices to customers who have defaulted on the payment of phone bills in the Darjeeling hills, threatening to attach their properties if the dues are not cleared in 15 days.

The phone dues of the hill residents have touched the Rs 10 crore mark as they refused to pay telephone and electricity bills and taxes as part of the non-co-operation movement by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha from April 2008 till July 2011.

The movement was launched to seek the formation of the separate Gorkhaland state.

The move by BSNL has created panic among the people, many of whom have run up dues to the tune of Rs 1 lakh.

The notice — a copy of which is with The Telegraph — issued by N.N. Dutta, a BSNL advocate based in Siliguri, clearly states that the dues have to be cleared within 15 days of receiving the notice.

“In view of the above circumstances, I call upon you for making payment…..along with interest to my client within 15 days from the date of receiving of this notice failing which my client shall take legal action against you to attach your properties for recovery of the same, without any further reference and you shall be held liable and responsible for all cost and expenses which may be incurred by my client…,” reads the notice.

Although the hill people didn’t pay for power consumption for more than three years and ran up bills of Rs 72 crore, they haven’t yet been asked to clear the dues.

The electricity department is only charging for the power consumed from August 2011, a month after the Memorandum of Agreement had been signed by the Central and state governments and the Morcha for the formation of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration.

Most of the landline connections have already been disconnected because of the non-payment.

While the Morcha had said it would do everything to ensure that the dues were waived, the central and state governments haven’t made any commitment.

A. Dakua, a general manager of the BSNL, said the notices were being issued according to the rules. “Cases (of non-payment of bills) are reviewed every six month and notices are sent accordingly. We are ready to help our customers who may not be in a position to clear the entire amount at one go. We can ask them to pay in installments.”

Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri said the party was in touch with both the state and the Centre to settle the issue. “The hill people will not be inconvenienced as the non-payment of bills was part of our agitation.”

Anil Verma, the administrator of the DGHC, said the state was in touch with the Centre.

“The issue is under the active consideration of the telecommunication and home ministries. Efforts are on to find out a solution to this problem. I have had a meeting in this regard recently.”

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