Thursday, November 17, 2011

Homecoming 25 Years, St. Joseph's, North Point, Darjeeling 2

By Manuwant Choudhary

The monsoons are just over but the river Teesta has very little water and on way we saw a huge dam being built across it.

Governments call this `development' but since India's independence the electricity and irrigation needs of the people have not been fulfilled.

And wonder how Dr. Manmohan Singh promises to give Bangladesh water from the Teesta.

But Mamata didi opposed him.

The climb to Ghoom is steep. On way we saw the bungalow owned by Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore (he probably spent his summers here).

Milestones saying Jorebungalow 18 kms seemed really far away.

This stretch ensures drivers remain slim and trim.

Our driver Sonu from Siliguri finally made it to Ghoom and before we realised we were near the Ghoom monastery and the Batasia loop (where the toy train takes a funny shape, moves in circles before heading towards Darjeeling).

But in 1976 when I first made this trip with my father driving an ambassador late evening we were dazzled by the lights of Darjeeling - a sight hard to forget - a wow!

Now you can't see Darjeeling from Ghoom. Houses have been built on both sides of the road.

We checked into Hotel Seven Seventeen - an unusual name - but we later found out that the hotel is owned by our lower division school prefect Mr. Tashi Penjore. (717 is the hotel owners lucky number, all his cars, bikes, shops have this number).

Price: Rs.2000 per room per night.

The hotel I always stayed in as a student was Hotel New Elgin.

In those days the room rent would be Rs.400 per night or even less and there were just 5 rooms.

Now the Hotel is called The Elgin Hotel and room rents are Rs.8000/- per night !

Seven Seventeen is reasonable with a Tibetan touch and freindly staff. A large dining hall serves breakfast and food as well.

But as soon as we arrived and rested two of our class mates arrived and we were soon on our way to Chowrasta.

Keventers, Glenary's, Das Studio almost all prominent shops had posters welcoming the North Pointers Class of 86.

And we were not Gorkhaland leaders.

The welcome dinner was at a garden resort on the opposite side of Chowrasta.

This photo was taken by Sanjay Sharma..after two pegs this is the best he could do.

Like the Bonfire - meeting old friends rekindled the warmth even in the November chill.

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