of sunsets and highways – Wangchuk ‘Chuck’ Basi

it is not by any stretch of imagination among the grand roads that connect this vast sub-continent. however it is of strategic importance as it is the life line between sikkim and vast chunks of the kalimpong subdivision with the rest of the country. a bolero or any one of the swifter, swankier and smaller cars these days can do the entire 75kms stretch between siliguri to gangtok in 3 1/2 hrs. many of the younger drivers can do it in three hours flat i am told. but, that is asking for trouble. at best of times the road is quite motorable and the border roads organisation people do a fairly good job of keeping it that way. but the road is very narrow and and punctuated by endless series of sharp bends that will brook no carelessness or entertain the whims of speed freaks. the terrain is unforgiving and has zero tolerance for mistakes.. it could be very costly.

to drive home this point, the BRO has put up many sign boards along the route. dire warnings served with a touch of humour. here are some;

1. this is not a rally. enjoy the valley
2. be gentle on my curves
3. drinking and driving don’t mix
4. haste makes waste
5. if married..divorce drink
6. BRO can build roads to anywhere except the skies.
but we are working at it.

i have driven the teesta highway more times than i can remember, and i will do it as many more times as i can. it is by far one of the preetiest drives in the country. it does get very messy during the monsoons with any number of landslips that hold up traffic for hours and sometimes…days. otherwise as the legend says…”enjoy” the valley. carry a flask of coffee, sandwiches, and a cd player. pull up where the river flows gentle along a sandy bank. listen to ‘yesterday once more’. hang around for a while. if you’re lucky you just might catch the sun going down.


5 thoughts on “of sunsets and highways – Wangchuk ‘Chuck’ Basi

  1. Eleanor Mukhia Mazzucco

    Dear Mr.Basi
    Your article and photogragh surely evoked some wonderful memories.
    Oh the Teesta—-the drive along its winding path holds so many memories of my childhood and my youth full of dreams.
    Now, on my every return to my beloved hills the glimpse of the river reminds me I am home at last!
    The Teesta welcomes me home and bids me farewell as I leave with a heavy heart. How I long to wait a while and catch the sunset.
    Thank you Mr. Basi.


  2. Abhijit Pradhan

    Dearest Uncle,

    For us million of miles away, these precious memoirs are a welcome.

    Kalimpong and its charisma keep us going. I must admit I am new to Kalimpong info – priorities in life have changed, sunsets, hilltops and winding roads are a distant memory, but today I am reminded of what home is, thank you.

    Please keep us your sons reminded – of the grandeur we call Kalimpong.



  3. Sonam Wangyal

    Dear Chuck,
    The essay reminded me of a recent incident. My nephew had come home from a protracted stay in Australia. When left India the Rohini-Kurseong link had not come up and he decided to travel the new route. As the Scorpio hit the lower elevations of the hills my nephew was delighted and after a bend or two he was crushed with disappointment. This is what happened: First, he saw a huge signboard proclaiming, “WELCOME TO GORKHALAND” and he was delighted. After a short ascent there was another hoarding pleading, “GIVE US GORKHALAND” and he was crushed.Somebody had got the sequential order completely wrong.
    Doc (Jaigaon)


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