In these days of confinement, how I long to travel! Travelling is a kind of de-stressing activity that revamps our wearied souls so that it can easily bear the onslaughts of life again and again. Anyway, in this critical situation, when social distancing and home confinement are being constantly stressed upon, travelling has become practically impossible. Consequences are even direr for people associated with tourism industry. A recent news has perturbed me. Treebo employees have lost their jobs. As an enthusiastic traveller, I mostly depend on online sites for my travel itineraries. As I had a sneak peak at this news, I felt a sense of uneasiness. Travelling is going to be an uncomfortable word for a next few months, I think.
Home confinement has taught us many things. If earlier you preferred to order from Swiggy or Zomato, now you have become a cooking enthusiast. Earlier you had no time for books. Now you have befriended those long forgotten compatriots. If you are a teacher, you can enjoy interactive sessions with your students through innumerable digital apps. If you are a traveller, you can easily master the art of exploring nooks and crannies of this world without moving an inch from your house. And, how’s that possible? Why? There are innumerable travelogues and city memoirs, Dervla Murphy’s On a Shoestring to Coorg, Parimal Bhattacharya’s Darjeeling, Ganesh Saili’s Mussoorie Medley that would enliven your solitary moments at home.
Today, all of a sudden I flipped through the pages of Parimal Bhattacharya’s city memoir, Darjeeling. It’s an exquisite documentation of the city, it’s history, it’s landmarks as well as the less frequented corners of Darjeeling. The author shows how the place itself ceases to be a mere geographical territory and becomes a narrative itself. The book rejuvenates my memory of Darjeeling. The place has many things to offer. Beneath the decked Mall road, the city whispers it’s lost glory. The worn out interiors of the Gymkhana club, and St Andrews smell of their grim financial condition. Those good old days of Darjeeling with the scantily populated Mall Chowrasta are only visible in the display of the famous Das Studio. Amidst the heterogenous crowd loitering, screeming, bargaining, and demanding for North Indian, South Indian, Bengali cuisine, and what not, the sophisticated colonial era of Darjeeling seems to be lost. To my utter dismay, I have found that the famous Shangri la’s kitchen doesn’t serve Tibetan Shapale, but the menu consists of North Indian naans and kulchas. I too share the author’s nostalgic yearning for the past. Still the charm of Darjeeling, the cold, the pines, the steaming coffee, the visible tracks of Toy train, the remnants of the past, the Windamere altogether create magic for me.
I was so engrossed in reading that for some moment I felt I was on the terrace of Keventer’s on a bright sunny morning enjoying the bustle and din of the city. At times, I love crowd. The crowd of travellers, the crowd of enthusiastic students in my university campus, crowd of devotees waiting on the ghat of the Ganges to watch the Aarti in Banaras, the crowd of school going girls thronging before the vendor selling pani puri during recess. Every crowd symbolizes life and vitality.
Well, in these days of Covid 19, it is true that most of us cannot enjoy the things we love most. But you know, we can still retain our positivity and will power. Believe in yourself and people around you. Don’t lose hope or get depressed. Spend time with your family. Engage yourself in little creative ventures. My University has given me several opportunities to remain connected with my students through online classes. So, I mostly try to keep myself occupied. Believe me, it’s therapeutic also. Grab your favourite books, watch movies and if possible try to revisit those long lost days of childhood. You will certainly feel better.
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