Culture

It was a pleasant summer day – bright sun, blue sky, puffy cumulus clouds and an occasional gentle breeze. There was a flurry of activity at the station as the coal-fired locomotive of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway huffed and puffed. Its murky smoke mingled freely with the chai, samosas and sel rotis, amid occasional cries…

Read more A replica of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway in England could be a lesson in conservation for India

When Deepti D’Cunha was on her maiden visit to Sikkim in 2011, she found herself being chased by a song everywhere. The “immensely hummable” tune put her in “a skippy, joyous mood” every time, even though all she could catch was the refrain Resham Firiri, Resham Firiri. “It was such a catchy tune, and it…

Read more How a 50-year-old Nepali song about cats and dogs spread to India and other parts of the world

Khukuri has historically been the symbol of Gorkha valour and pride. Now, the makers of the machete-like knife with an inwardly-curved blade seek pride for themselves. Ambedkar on the lips, Nepali Dalits of the Indian subcontinent have joined forces to launch their first ever united, cross-border fight against prejudice and to work towards building pride…

Read more ‘They Like Our Music, Not Us’: Nepali Dalits Unite to Fight Prejudice

The courtyard outside Basana Barman’s house is a flurry of activity. A teenaged boy is atop the corrugated roof plucking mango leaves while a group of women huddle together on the verandah preparing offerings for worship. A table fan buzzes in front of a khaki-clad police constable seated at the gate. “It is going to…

Read more Swapna Barman, the first Indian woman to win an Asiad gold in heptathlon, is a star here

If you have visited Sikkim and taxied in the “cushioned unity” of a crowded jeep , with Nepali music backdropping a boisterous gang of local strangers, you’ve lived a story by Chetan Raj Shrestha. If you have read his published fiction – The King’s Harvest, a suite of novellas, and The Light of His Clan,…

Read more ‘Because Sikkim is small, and its realities are graspable, it can behave like a character’

Want a Chetan Bhagat? Stay away from Rachna Books, the independent bookstore in Gangtok. Raman Shresta, the idealistic 40-year-old bookseller, still has to borrow money from his parents “well, almost every year” but refuses to stock some of the bestselling authors because of their “dubious literary merit”. In fact, he waits in ambush for unsuspecting…

Read more Sikkim’s own independent bookstore is a hotspot for culture