A Short Trip to Sikkim.

On the morning of 16th December 2015 after having our breakfast we hit the road to Sikkim. We were exhilarated beyond limits, we were practically now traveling to another state all together. But all the excitement went into the drain when the bridge which connects West Bengal and Sikkim was getting repaired.

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“It will take three hours,huzoor and there is no other way to go.” said the driver.

“WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT?” was Ayu and My reaction.

Anyways, left with no choice we walked around while the ushering sound of Teesta filled us with antiquity. A little talk here, a little glancing at people there, eating loads of chocolates, clicking photos of people, capturing their untold stories and laughing along, we managed to pass these 3 hours and Bravo! We now entered Sikkim.

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Nepali songs were playing in the car all along the journey and our driver singing along , was the best experience. Before we reached Gangtok we stopped at Namchi, a well planned and  clean city which has been chosen for the Smart City Project.
There, meeting Swaroops friend over lunch we went around his cafe which was still under construction

.Again, on the road we finally reached Gangtok at around 7 in the evening with nowhere to go. using his friendly contacts, Swaroop finally managed to arrange a hotel, ‘Sonam Delek’. The hotel is in a perfect location with view of Kanchenjunga from the balcony.
With following day supposed to be a long one and an immensely tiring journey we had just come from, nepali songs still bursting in my head, I passed out!

Next morning, an Army vehicle came to pick us up and off we were to Nathu La. The Driver was from Haryana and had before served in Kargil .  At 14000 ft and two lakes while on the journey and lots of Yaks lazily standing in the middle of the road, Nathu la looks exactly like Ladakh.
Also, it has the highest ATM in the world, just a random fact.

When we finally reached the India China border, were asked to keep our cameras inside and then taken upstairs to the office/guest lodge. That place, I am not kidding, had the most chilly, skin biting cold wins I have ever experience…and… I LOVED IT. I wouldnt have asked anything better to fulfill my cold and winter weather loving soul.
But my friends, on the other side Ayu started having difficulties in breathing so we had to pack up soon and move.
While going back we stopped at a military canteen and had lunch. We were so hungry that i am not sure if we even tasted the food nicely.

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After reaching Gangtok we had our lunch and moved on to explore the streets of the city. Gangtok too is a very well planned city, where people are not allowed to cross the roads randomly and have to use the over head bridges only. Oh yes! And they do follow all the rules.
Excited for shopping as always, to Ayu’s disappointment the popular shops were closed by the time she started her shopping spree.

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We had our dinner at the Coffee House on M.G Marg- delicious food and an amazing ambiance. they have an outlet at Saket,Delhi too.

Next morning we left for Siliguri and as soon as we reached there, we dumped our bags in the hotel room and went to the city. Last night of the trip, we thought of celebrating it looking at the photographs of these memorable 10 days. And honestly, at that moment I wanted to go back to Darjeeling and start the trip all over again.

Sitting in the Siliguri Airport restaurant having our breakfast the flashback of these 10 days was running inside my head. I was taking with me a little piece of every place I visited, Stories of every soul I met and was leaving an aura of me in the winds of these places.

I did not feel homesick for even a while, for I manage to find home in every place I travel.

 

 

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In search of a home: The Rohingya Refugees

In India the Rohingyas are living in refugee camps in New Delhi, Hyderabad etc. In New Delhi, Zakat Foundation provided them with land in Kanchan Kunj area, where Rohingyas have been living since 2012. The only mark of identification they have is an identity card provided by the UNHCR.  the latter also looks into their grievances and immediate needs. The men of the camp either work inside the camp in small constructions or are employed outside in local market.

There is a school for children in the vicinity and the fees is paid by the Zakat Foundation  itself, but as one of the kids said, the foundation is planning to stop the fee payment soon.

The camp comprises of 50 families, although all share common grievances there is  psychological violence inside the camp. Also, there are many activists amongst the residents who organise regular protests, sometimes near Jantar Manta while other times outside the Embassy of Myanmar. ‘We just want our voices to be heard amd get the attention we deserve.”said Mohammad Farooq who owned large farms back in Myanmar, (“I had 5-6 people working under me. I had a well established Construction business”)and has rescued around 10 Rohingya girls who were being trafficked from Bangladesh to India.

Cover Photo: Ms. Tasleema with her youngest and the oldest child. She fights against all the odds and social pressure within  the refugee camp to make her daughter Mizan an educated   woman. Apart from school she sends her to tuition . Her husband is a drug addict and doesnt care much about the family hence taking a very strong move , she is planning on giving him a divorce.

This article has been published on Huffington Post India as well

 

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in 2012, Rohingyas migrated to India and in New Delhi settled on this land provided by the Zakat Foundation. At Present, the camp comprises of 50 families living in small packed room made up of ply wood or just curtains or bamboos.
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there is a school for children in vicinity. they have english as one of the subjects but its hardly been taught to students.
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Mizan (13): She studies in 4th grade and aspires to be a Doctor. Her father works in the nearby water park and is involved in drugs,hence doesnt contribute much to the household expenditure. she narrated me a story how a 13 year old girl was killed by a young boy inside the camp itself,after her family refused to get her married to the boy. after instances like these, she is very scared and hardly talks to people around and doesn’t even move out of her small room in the camp except going to school.
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children peeping through, watchin T.V. Inside the camp only a coup;e of houses have facilities like these.

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Sanjeeda Begum

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construction of a masjid for the refugee camp. many men of the families residing there are employed in this construction. they are paid Rs.300 per day.

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Sohail Khan, before migration he was a student of Sociology Honors. At present his grandfather stays in the United States but he is unable to join him due to lack of any national identity.

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Sumi (13), she witnessed her father s death due to the clashes between the Muslims and the Buddhists in Myanmar. she aspires becoming an Engineer here in India itself.

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