This is a dedication to that one tiny spot on the map, to that minuscule town located on the north eastern Himalayas of India, where I was born and raised, where my roots lie. Historically, Kurseong has been an uneventful little town except for few schools established by the British, located in perfect spaces on the face of the biggest hill looming over the main road. A sluggish small town with a small scanty train station where the legendary Toy Train stops just for refueling. The shabby appearance of the town however is broken by rounded small undulating slopes of green tea gardens that are forever playing hide and seek with thick mists during the monsoons. But other than that, it is just a very sleepy little town where nothing much happens.
One small truth comprises of the fact that the town is devoid of any cinema theater and that, its inhabitants are but compelled to seek celluloid entertainment in their idiot boxes at home. It wasn’t always like this though, because, the plaza cinema theater was the hub of social and cultural entertainment until the 80s as my mother recalls, who during her hey days frequented the over crowded theater to watch the latest Bollywood release that was awaited by everyone in restless anticipation.
It’s not only just the Toy train that stops for a breather here, the tourists also land briefly to use the only public toilet standing on the station and to refuel themselves with a quick cup of hot Darjeeling tea. However, one thing that is worth mentioning is the sunset. Kurseong is reputed for having the most beautiful sunset and is often compared to the sunrise from Tiger hill near Darjeeling town which is one of the most visited tourist spot. Kurseong is mostly inhabited by retired individuals who ironic enough, are also in the sunset of their lives. The younger demographic usually leaves in search of greener pastures never to come back. Those who remain, struggle between the apathy of being jobless and of being stuck in really small jobs with equally small wages and then there are those who have taken the menacingly notorious path to destruction – drugs and alcoholism. The weather doesn’t make it any better either because this quaint little town of Kurseong falls under the rain zone and is also nicknamed as Cherapunji of Bengal.
Rain-washed ugly concrete buildings line the crooked streets, illegal constructions encroach the view, electric poles bend low with heavy mesh of cables that are clustered dangerously at places, people stare when a new face arrives but they smile nevertheless. Roads are dug out by the rain and you can easily step into a puddle if you don’t look where you are going.
Far beyond the gritty plains,
Crooked wooden houses holding hands,
Both young and old parade the street,
The sun bids goodnight turning the sky into crimson,
A disheveled and retired appearance she wears,
Images: www.deviantart.com by Luctusa, Abalone-Da-SeaSnail