Tag Archives: north india

Migrant Workers: Nepali (Rolpali) Porters of Shimla

भागी ती भागीका छोरा पिलेन घुइक्याउदा छन्
अभागी गरिवका छोरा भारी चुइक्याउदा छन्

मसुरी डाँडोमा भारतभरीका र संसारकै मान्छे पुग्छन् । तिनीहरु कुन देश या भारतीय राज्यका हुन् खुट्टयाउन हत्तपत्त सकिन्न । तर खुम्चिएको ढाका टोपी लगाएका, काँधमा नाम्लो भिरेका र यहाँका साघुरा गल्लीमा भारी बोकेर या त्यसै भौतारिइरहेका जुनै पनि मलिन अनुहारलाई सहजै चिन्न सकिन्छ । परिचय विनाकै पहिलो प्रश्न (‘कताबाट हो दाजू ?’) ले तत्कालै उत्तर पाइ हाल्छ– ‘कालिकोट’ ।

एक हिसावले पुरै मसुरी शहर कालिकोटेहरुको थाप्लामा अडिएको छ ।

केही मिनेट असिना बर्सिएपछि चिसिएको हालैको एक साँझ एक हुल कालीकोटेहरु मसुरीको केन्द्रमा रहेको घन्टाघर नजिकै सडक किनारमा आगो तापिरहेका थिए । दिउसो एकपटकमा डेढ क्विन्टलसम्म बोक्दाको थकान मेटाउन केहीले मदिराको सहयोग लिएका थिए जो गफमा प्रष्ट झल्किन्थ्यो ।

‘लौ लेख्नुस्, हामी कालिकोटका,’ ५९ बर्षे धनु विकले लरबरिएको लवजमा भने– ‘आफ्नो देशमा काम नपाएर अर्काकोमा कुकुरको जिन्दगी विताइरहेका छौं । यही हो हाम्रो खवर ।’

थाप्लोमा मसुरी (फेब्रुअरी २००९) बाँकी यहाँ छ .

Nepali porters of Mussoorie, India. Photo taken in 2009.

Nepali porters in Mussoorie, India. February 2009.

22/23 March 2013 For the first time in a long time I was traveling as a tourist with no possible story ideas storming at the back of my mind. This was a strange feeling and also a relief. I didn’t have to do a story when I was seeing one in front of me. I didn’t have to approach and talk to people the way a reporter in me normally would have. I didn’t have to organize the voices in a structured story. I was just a tourist, not a reporter looking for stories. Not that I hated doing all that but this time I was not a reporter, I was just a tourist.

Approaching people, talking to them and composing a story- that all takes effort. Words have to reflect, as accurately as possible, feeling of the people involved in the story. They have to portray pictures of people in such a way that this portrayal properly supplements the photos of the same people that are often printed alongside the story. Continue reading

And the Monkey Stole My Glasses in Shimla

A fearless and agressive monkey ready to fight with a humanShimla’s monkeys are agressive and audacious. They don’t seem to miss an opportunity to intimidate, attack and assault humans. A huge Hanuman statue standing atop the Jakhu hill (of whose base the town Shimla is located, sort of) could be the source of their arrogance. That’s my assumption. Hanuman’s statue, way bigger than the Gandhi’s at the base of the hill, must have made them feel that they are superior to humans. Again, assumption. I noticed several ‘be aware of monkeys’ notices in the town.

I have seen monkeys in many places- in the village where I was born and grew up, in many other villages of Nepal that I have visited, and in jungles where my trail passed through. Have seen them in cities as well- many places of Kathmandu and Delhi (Have written an entire column about the unfriendly monkeys of Delhi that sneaked into my apartment to steal things- Humans and monkeys struggle for space in the Indian capital). But I’ll put the monkeys of Shimla at the top of the list of the most agressive monkeys that I have ever seen. Continue reading

A Quick trip to Shimla

Dinesh Wagle in Shimla

No prize for spotting me. Pic by Gokul Dahal

Shimla is a town of Monkeys who behave like Monkeys. But I will keep this album free of monkeys. I present here the atmosphere of the town- crowds and buildings- as I saw it.

During my two-year stay in Delhi as a reporter I traveled to most of the famous ‘hill stations’ in north India. Here’s the list: Darjeeling, Shillong, Mussoorie, Manali and Gangtok. Somehow I hadn’t found time to go to Shimla. I had imagined the place to be not drastically different from other hilly Indian towns. But some descriptions that I had come across (can’t remember the exact one at the moment) had put this place slightly ahead of others in the beauty contest of ‘queens of hills’. May be some political events (like the Shimla Agreement) provided some importance (and glamour) to the place. I also wanted to experience the toy train of Shimla (and wanted to compared it with similar one in Darjeeling). Continue reading

Toy Train to Shimla

Toy Train to Shimla and GokulWe wanted to come to Shimla in a toy train. Toy trains are slower and expensive than a bus ride to the hilly town. But we wanted to experience the train service (and route) that’s listed as UNESCO world heritage site. I also wanted to compare it with that of Darjeeling. On this route, tunnels that go through hills and some bridges are impressive.  22 March 2013

At the Shimla train station we were surprised by the sight of a train motor- it was just a single train car. Total passengers traveling: 11 including us (me and Gokul), the ‘train’ driver and a kid. At the Barog station from where the longest tunnel of the Kalka-Shimla route ends (or starts, depending upon where you are coming from) we chatted with the driver. Hari Singh from Uttar Pradesh state of India has been driving trains on this route for the past 30 years. He said BBC has made a film over him which is available in YouTube.  24 March 2013

Past entries on Indian trains:

1. The Great Indian Railway Bazaar
2. Indian Level Crossing
3. A Trip to Taj Mahal (Part I- Indian Railways)
4. Rajdhani Express 4
5. Toy Train 3  Continue reading

At Rohtang Pass, Himanchal Pradesh, India

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Previous post: A trip to Manali, India.

women walking under snow at rohtang pass, india

Women who sell tea and snacks at the Rohtang Pass return to their homes

Not many options were available to us at the taxi stand. Manali is a small town, every taxi driver appeared to have known the other fairly well. So the bargaining ended pretty quickly. The journey started with an unexpected warning from our driver. The road ahead, he said in a calm voice, is not so smooth.

man and horse in snow rohtang pass himachal pradesh india

Near the Pass: A man leads horses down to Manali

Five kilometers passed in a jiffy. Songs from Hindi movies were blaring from the taxi’s CD player. The driver spoke again. It would be very cold up there, he said. Our clothes were not enough to keep us warm there, he explained. “There’s a shop a few kilometers ahead,” he said. “They rent jackets, trousers and boots.” Was he telling this because he had some sort of understanding with the renter for commission or was he genuinely interested in making us warm at the pass. Either way it wasn’t a big deal. I mean renting jackets. Continue reading