I’m pretending right now that I’m in my cold, cold bed three days ago. Bear or bed with me. I wrote this post in my head at the time so it’s not really cheating, and (what’s with me and this Oxford comma these days) the story is more fun to read this way:
Yea, so I’m lying in my bed, right. And I’m kinda contemplating. Got nothing to do really. It’s a loadshedding free-zone over here. And it’s loadshedding freezing. Once again I forgot to ask extra blankets. I’m afraid that when I breath upwards my breath will freeze and will attack me from above as ice shards; which is ridiculous of course. The cold has surpassed my gloomiest predictions. All my blankets and all my clothes can’t make me warm again.
Darjeeling, the city itself, or the mountain perhaps, seems to have designs on me. I used to walk freely along its streets. Me animated, talking with my arms, yapping my jaws to my peers. But as the days passed this place has stilted me. Pinned me to one place.
First a strike scared my friends away, and closed all bars. The stiff cold trapped me in my hotel. Soon I had to abandon the promise of companionship in the abandoned bar for whatever extra warmth my blankets could give me. Under those rags I was forced to lay still as a corpse so the cold wouldn’t notice me. Afraid to breathe. Darjeeling, without touching, tried to squeeze me into nothingness. And so here I lie. Imagining myself crawling out of the other side. Whatever is on the other side of nothingness? Something I guess. Darjeeling won’t efface me that easily.
As far as I can see, it’s a trend. Darjeeling tries to squeeze everyone like a pimple. First the British who made it into a summer retreat of sorts, but fled in the winter, then they fled for good. After them the Indians made this hill their governmental summer retreat. But they also retreated from their retreat.
There are much older, more tenacious occupiers though: the Ghorkas, now India’s mercenary killing machines, who invaded Darjeeling a couple of centuries ago under their own banner, from what now is Nepal. And they kinda got stuck here. So they’re scary killers. You try to attack killers. On them the hill closes in more slyly. They’re a hard target. The average Ghorkian has a back made of butter. The cold doesn’t affect them. Getting angry at them, shouting at them.. they just look at you and blink their eyes. They’re stuck in a cue.. they switch off or start to chit-chat. What’s a mountain to do against such indifferent opposition?
Cunningly the mountain let them be ensnared in the web that is the state of India. Let them be harassed by the economy and other ethnicities of a crushing nation. Now that the Ghorkas don’t like. Even the Ghorkas have limits. So now the Ghorkas are fighting back. They want their own Ghorkaland. They already lost a few rounds against the Indian machine, and they just lost the last one. No own state for Ghorkaland, as Hydrabad DID get.
So the Ghorkas declared a four-day strike and a demonstration. It was nice and peaceful on the central square. Funny how different everything feels when stuff like this is organised by the government. It’s also a bit of a useless gesture to strike just now. There are tri-party talks next week between the Ghorkas the state and the government, so any action before that is just plain silly.
I met a Nepali at the demonstration. An old guy from the homeland of sorts. At home they said to him: “There’s no work for you here. Try Darjeeling. Become a guide.” But it’s swarming here with guides. And now he’s scolded by the locals and he’s being told to get off the rock. Kinda ironic on a day like this. Just because he came a bit later.. But it follows.. He’s just by himself and he’s poor. He doesn’t stand a chance against the machinations of the rock.
Stay tuned next week for our next installment of ‘The Ghorkas vs. the Rock’, if I myself will have managed to hang on to it that is.
So this was three days ago. In the meantime I purchased sweaters for two Euro a piece, warm warm socks, and a heater for seven Euro fifty. Also the temperature has climbed a bit. I am living in dignity again! Ghorkas and Nepali dude still live pretty much in the same way though I think. More on them later if I’m not lazy.