Kpg Calling – A Tribute to Teesta

The first essay from Prabin Moktan’s collection, Kpg Calling. If anyone is interested in a copy of the book, please contact the author at prabinkpg @ sify.com or the administrator at admin @ kalimpong.info.

A Toast for Teesta – Prabin Moktan

Just as India, in a cartographic sense can boast of its own private ocean, Kalimpong’s pride is the Teesta. I have been fascinated by this green river ever since I can remember. Perhaps you too may have looked at it as you traveled on the road that runs parallel to its bank and wondered about the many secrets locked up in its sandy bed. The portion below the bridge may perhaps contain a wealth of coins thrown in by diverse breeds of devout individuals all with their own separate agendas for the divine to pay attention to. Perhaps one of them may belong to that over zealous coin thrower, who in the process of pursuing a blessing actually tossed herself out of the speeding jeep along with her rupee, to miraculously escape with just a minor bruising from the Gammon concrete. And what about the rusty carcasses of the numerous vehicles that its waters swallow every monsoon? Here it may be an army truck hosting a silent school of scales. Or the submerged remains of a jeep perhaps, inquisitively nibbled at by a truculent trout. Of course synonymous with the Teesta is also its bazaar. There was a time when it was a junction, a sort of an intersection where people got down to stretch their legs and maybe drink a glass of tea or coke. Or they could have simply walked to the edge of the road and cast a glance at the turbulent Teesta, to drink of its temperamental greenness and lose themselves to the sound of its feisty flow. Back then when we did not travel as frequently as we do now, reaching the Teesta was an occasion to be looked forward to. It was a signpost marking the end of a significant portion of the journey. And although none really got down to stay behind, it was with a certain sense of unfulfilled longing that one boarded the jeep to continue ahead. A feeling also felt by the narrator of perhaps what is one of the greatest short stories of the Nepali language, "Kheer". It is not coincidental that this story, heavy on symbolism, is set on the Teesta. Teesta after all is more than a river. Although not as religiously significant as the other great rivers it has a special place in our hill hearts. Its banks serve as locales for life’s great picnics and also its eternal farewells. And while it has not spawned civilisations as such, its sand is an important ingredient of our nascent progress.

Of course to come back to more mundane matters, the shifting of the bridge had initially sucked its economy dry to the bone. Being bypassed by the bulk of the traffic meant that the bustling bazaar was a thing of the past. But fortunately human resilience is a marvelous thing and Teesta too has not escaped from the optimism of its denizens. The shelves are certainly looking fuller and the giant papayas as ripe and inviting as ever. But even then one cannot but miss the old times, when that pontoon across the waters allowed only one vehicle at a time. The vehicle slowed down, the bridge gave away just a little, its elasticity arching in deference to the jeep and its load. There was the swish of the trajectory of the wishing coins and the prayerful crossing of the hands.

That sense of history is gone with that bridge and except for memories at least I do not have any photographs to remember the poetry of its steel and engineering. Remember the stricture that prohibited any photographing of the structure.

The consolation today is that the new construction is so sound that there are no such orders betraying the insecurities of that bygone age. And perhaps as a metaphor for our ever-increasing mobility it does not require you to slow down or cross one at a time. Now you may drive by at top speed along with countless others in similar hurry as you.

Only the Teesta flows as ever.

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7 thoughts on “Kpg Calling – A Tribute to Teesta

  1. Binita

    Brilliant! Although I’m from Darjeeling, I have made my share of memories in Kalimpong and on the Teesta, too!
    By the way, I have met you once. Binay’s my friend from his North Point and Ktm days. I live in NY now.

    All the best and keep writing.

    Like

  2. Rakshith Kuttappa

    Hi Mr.Prabin
    Brilliant piece of English reading from the Hills,Got the book as a gift from a friend of mine in Kalimpong,when I was in Darjeeling,It was an interesting insight journey to lives of people of the hills
    All the best,Expecting more from your ink

    Like

  3. Dr J S Simick

    Prabin Bhai,
    You’re great !
    Don’t let the thoughts that flow into your pen,be tied down by any fear of people’s reaction.
    Fly over the Kalimpong hills and take us also along with you !
    Dr Simick

    Like

  4. Safique Ahmed

    Hi Mr Prabin,
    Well seems like ur english is still the shiny one.
    N i have to say that ur work is excellent.
    Have a great time. Hoping to see u soon in the near
    future.

    Like

  5. Muhammad Qasim Khallow

    Wow..Avant garde..thats the word i get at this moment..i was too late to read all this…but i think i will look forward to more of ur writing…the reading took me back to the innocent days of my school and kalimpong…surely will make a short film on kalimpong one day..and also shoot my first feature in kalimpong…
    qaZim(bombay)

    Like

  6. nts

    looks like kpg is awakenineng in the field of literature. its never too late to showcase what kpg has. we’ve got talent, we’ve got skill and that is slowly being seen. thanks to this website. i hope many more slumbering people will arise and create and show their own style of writing
    eventhough i’ve been using this site for over two years i never knew that such brilliant writings were hidden in it and i enjoyed every bit of it. longing to see more

    Like

  7. Bishnu K. Thapa

    Hi!! you guys up there. First of all, let me give you my brief introduction. I spend my time in Kalimpong from 1977 – 1980 as a student as well as a kind of residence of Kalimpong. I stayed in 8th Mile Mongbol Basti, in my uncle’s house. Actually, I came to Kalimpong from doors area and later on moved to Kathmandu, Nepal as my dad was originally from Nepal. Kalimpong is the city that gave me the first taste of life and provided me the opportunities to learn a lot to shape-up my future. I was a kind of very shy and different in nature. I have still somehow has links like relatives in Kpg. and I still love very much to come there and meet them and walk on that roads which are small and winding.

    After I moved to Nepal, I worked in different International Non-profit Organizations for several years. I did my Project Management Course from Asian Institute of Technology, in Bangkok, Thailand. Continued to work in Nepal and continued to gain experience. In 1997 I went to Japan and stayed in Tokyo for three long years and returned to Kathmandu in 2001. And again in 2004 I went to U.S.A. and I am still working in U.S.A. I am working in the post of General Manager in Corporate America – Motel6 whose head office is in France. To-day I was going through the wikipidia of Kalimpong, and saw this site and dare to write something in the memory of Kpg. My main intention is to keep connected with the present generation of Kalimpong. I may be coming to Kpg. in Oct. this year – but anybody who want me to write; you are welcome. My email is bishnukt2279@yahoo.com. Thank you and wish you all happy new year 2009.
    Bishnu Thapa
    6717 Plymouth Road
    Stockton, CA 95207
    U. S. A.

    Like

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