Sunday, December 11, 2016

Sisney – The Small Himalayan Hamlet

As the car took the next turn, leaving the ranges behind us and I fixed my thirsty gaze to the front screen, hoping to reach the destination. But no!  Nudup had some other plans as he kept on steering and taking us to the… TOP TOP and TOP!!

Nudup, a local guy and our driver, happens to be one of the best things in our trip to Sikkim. Personally, I felt, stories of this small Mongoloid man with tiny eyes were much  more trustworthy than someone who is speaking bheto (typical) Bengali or praising the beauty of the Himalaya while spitting beetle nut pieces around.

We started from Kalimpong at 7:30 am and we reached Sisney around 10 am. This is a small hamlet surrounded by the mighty ranges and it is almost disconnected from the city. It would be wrong to call the topography rough because the mountain in this part is still green, yet with a tinge of aridity here and there.    

As we got down from the Scorpio (not the predator, of course!), a dog came running to me and tried its best to drill down his canines through my two layered pants. My friend laughed and said, "Here doggie, go for the leg pices!!" Fortunately, I saved my tender leg with a confused look, showing a knuckle to my friend. But  soon, the four-legged animal turned friendly and while patting it, I saw the dog has a broken paw. However, that didn’t seem to curb down the energy of the little one. It was still happy and ready to play.  

Well, the reason I called Sisney a hamlet disconnected from the city is because, once you are here, there is no way you can have telecommunication with the rest of the world. Yes, this is a smart place where your Smartphone looks stupid.

If you have to make a call, walk a few kilometers; sit on a tombstone and talk, while admiring the beauty of the Mother Nature. Or, you can also rest your phone on a glass window pane, roughly at 85 degrees and talk hands free. 

Now that is some engineering! I wonder how people carry out a private conversation over phone at Sisney. May be he asks people around to move away, or maybe he howls, “Hey guys, shut your ears, am trying to make a private call here on loud speaker!”       

So, tell me, do you want to go there? I say you must! The place is just half an hour from Rongli Bazaar towards Zuluk.

The sound of the small stream running over the rocks, the soft cold wind touching your skin, the jingling of temple bells will tell you just one thing, “Take a break.” 

The population of Sisney looked like 20 families only. Every colorful house has its own garden with flowers hanging down from the balcony. The locals sit at the corridors to chat and greet you with warmth. Nudup said, each of these local owns a mountain.  And we were like, “A mountain? Are you kidding?!” But then he explained, ‘Like you own land, we do not have plain lands here. So these mountains are our property, given to our ancestors by our kings.” But we were still like “A mountain?!” 

With houses on either side, the narrow lane takes a serpentine course, moving with a charm that tempts you to follow her. But as you go up, there is nothing to see except the alluring mountains, the sound of your own breath and the echo of your existence.

Sisney has only one school for the children of the locality. After completing the secondary education, the parents need to send them to another village for completing their higher studies.

The natives are mostly engaged in farming, cattle rearing, and other labor oriented jobs. We even got to know that the Sikkim government is helping the locals to build their houses. I really admired the way the houses were maintained. Financially, they may not be very well off, but they know how to live a beautiful life. There was only one small shop in the village with minimum things of daily use; and if they need anything more, travelling to the city is the only option left. 

In the winters, when the sun goes down and the chilly cold breeze rules the neighborhood, the locals gather around a bonfire to enjoy the weather with a cup of chai (tea) and loads of addas (chatting). They say that wild bears come at night to find food or for a prey. So they prefer to stay inside their sweet houses after 8 p.m.

Being a silent spectator of their life for a whole day, I realize that we can live without a mobile phone even today. We really do not need so many things to have a peaceful life. Yet again, I accept, the people of the mountains have a hard life with lack of medical facilities, no work opportunities and lack options for education. But don’t they still have a life?

   Well, the grass always seems greener on the other side!

If you really want to feel this life, there are a few homestays available at Sisney, but don’t go with an expectation of lavish living amidst the fauna. All you need is a shelter for a day and food; and these homestays assure that amidst the bliss of the Himalayas and care of the Mother Nature.

Isn’t it enough?