Of all the places I’ve visited, it’s Gangtok that keeps beckoning me again and again. My wife and I spent three days there in 2010. I don’t know if the place is quite the same today. Back then, it had a pristine beauty. The streets were narrow and congested but without any filth anywhere. It was a clean hill station.
Quite a few monasteries lay around the town itself. There are other monasteries elsewhere in the state. In spite of all the hundreds of visitors walking around at any given time, the monasteries look spick and span. It was the monasteries that really drew me to Gangtok in the first place. When I mentioned my travel plan to a student from Silchar, he asked me why I wanted to visit Gangtok. “Nothing to see, Sir,” he said. “Monasteries,” I grinned.
Along with my wife I visited every single monastery in and around the town. There’s something repetitive about the monasteries. They look similar, sound similar and smell similar. Even the dusky light in the prayer chambers is the same in every monastery. The air in that duskiness vibrates with a tang that seeps into your heart and spreads through your being like an intoxicant. Did I carry a duskiness somewhere in a secret chamber of my soul? Did I, like a child who had done something wrong, wish to hide myself in a dark corner of one of those prayer chambers with the soothing resonance of a tuning fork enveloping me from the world that waited to pummel me ceaselessly?
My wife and I were celebrating fifteen years of our life together then. We decided to return to Gangtok to celebrate the silver jubilee of our marriage. Little did we know that some of our dreams would soon be dashed to the ground by what happened eventually in the Delhi school where we worked. Many people’s dreams were shattered by the events which were conjured up by the gangsters of a godman who ran a different kind of ashrams in and outside the country.
Gods are quite funny creatures. Some of them save while many of them are goddam killers. I would wish to return to the gods of Gangtok at any time, even to the Ban Jhakri that populate the state’s legends.
PS. Written for Indispire Edition 175: #TimeToRevisit