Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Megalaima virens (Great Barbet) in Chisopani, Singtam, Sikkim

Saturday, February 15, 2014

This banana species grows towards the sky !!

I had been writing on different topics related to Sikkim since last 10 years. From flipping over the pages of Sikkim heritage to Sikkim royal family, from century old Sikkim Postal History to Shapi and today we will talk about an unusual plant species. Rather a strange case, at least to me and few of my friends with whom i share the photographs.

This was something weird, never reported or heard before. I was thrilled to find this particular banana species growing along the National Highway while on the way to Gangtok few days back. Since on that particular day near Orange Village Resort, there was a long queue of vehicles where an army vehicle had collided with a Bolero. From the queued line of vehicles where I was sited, I came across this banana species planted in-front of a nearby residence. It took me by surprise and i could not help myself to go near the plant. I had never come across such banana plant with its flower and fruits growing upright towards the sky and against the gravity.
Yes, you heard me true, a banana plant with its flower (bungaa) and fruits growing upward against its normal feature.  There was nothing fake about it, the banana fruits were hanging upward facing the sky, very unusual.
I surfed through internet about this strange species but to find close resemblance with musa ornata, a banana species of Indian origin. I shared the photograph with my friends who echoed it to be morphed using Photoshop. This made me glad since I had taken different shot of that special plant. It was a pleasure sight for me to know this wasn’t a common one.
Few months later, I have found another banana plant with similar features with the one from Ranipool, this time at Mill Dara, Dalapchand. When I was told by one of my student Sudip Rai about a banana plant with its upright flower grown in his field, I was in cloud nine. I went to his home and had a closer look of the plant. The banana plant I saw at Sudip’s field was different from the one at Ranipool, shorter in height and less slender. 

Some say it as bad omen, but it is true against all odds this banana species grows towards the sky!!

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Everest legend Mallory and his Sikkim connection- ii

In terms of Sikkim’s perspective, the first three expeditions holds special for a person by the name of Gyalzen Kazi, who was a landlord but played an important role during the expeditions. Gyalzen Kazi was the interpreter for the 1921 Everest Expedition and had worked both as interpreter and Sirdar (Chief Climbing Sherpa) on the 1922 and 1924 Expedition. It is well said that Gyalzen Kazi and Karma Paul (another interpreter from Darjeeling) were the first ‘Sherpas’ to have helped the Everest Expeditions. Gyalzen Kazi was known more for his role of interpreter and Sirdar but to my findings he was the first mountain explorer of Sikkim.
Another interesting finding that came to me was the page of Aritar Dak Bunglow Visitor Book that has the name of five mountaineers of the 1922 Mt Everest Expedition. Charles G. Bruce, Edward "Teddy" F. Norton, Dr Arthur Wakefield, C. John Morris and C. Geoffrey Bruce had signed at the visitor book during their stay at the Dak Bungalow on July 29 and 30, 1922. Thou I felt little sad not to find Mallory’s name on the book nevertheless those five names was enough to rub my excited heart. Charles G. Bruce was the Expedition leader with a Brigadier rank while Morris and Geoffrey Bruce were responsible for translation and organizational tasks. Norton and Wakefield were mountaineers with medical background.  Apart from these people there were eight other expedition members in the 1922 ascent to Mt Everest.
Gyalzen Kazi and Karma Paul
Thou it had been mentioned in different accounts that the first three Mt Everest Expedition team (1921, 1922 and 1924) did stay at Aritar Dak Bungalow but I have not come across the 1921 and 1924 records on the Visitor Book.
Coming back to Mallory, ever since his dead body with his face down on the snow had been recovered the assumptions of whether the two missing mountaineers reached to their ultimate goal has been running high. Although it was Hillary and Tenzing who took the crown of being the first mountaineers to successfully return back after reaching the summit after 30 years of Mallory’s sudden disappearance.  
Everest has deep secrets under its calm silence and in between there are stories that keeps on popping did they reached at the top.  Mallory had a photograph of his wife and he had promised to her that he would click the photograph of himself with his wife’s photograph at the summit. When the search team found the body they failed to recover the photograph from the pocket of his cloth. Some believe the photograph might have been left at the summit.  The camera which the duo had been carrying is still to be recovered and no one knows if it is found in near future we might witness the lost moment of human heroics. 
If speculations are to be believed, the presence of snow goggles found on the on Mallory’s pant pockets throw a different perspective of the event. It could be that they were returning after achieving the summit after sunset when the snow goggles are not needed. Irvine’s snow axe had also been recovered.
These theories related to George Mallory had made him a legend and we are still awaiting more findings that could end up the speculations to its end. Irrespective of all these the efforts of George Mallory needs to be appreciated. It was his fantasy and ‘only him’ that made the thought of reaching the summit of Mt Everest fascinating and appealing to all.

Oh for goodness sake, he’s the King, OK?!

A popular blog of royal families “Radical Royalist” shares an interesting anecdote related to Chogyal Wangchuk Tenzing Namgyal, the present heir to the Namgyal Dynasty. The anecdote shared by his fellow freind during his schooling days at London. I am sure my reader would love it.

The anecdote says about the talk between the two friend Prince Wangchuk and David (his friend)…….

“He [Prince Wangchuk] used to accompany a small group of us to the pub at lunchtimes. He was never a big drinker, but used to participate in the banter, and enjoy the company.

One day I asked him where he came from - he replied:

“Sikkim – it’s a small country in the Himalayas, between Bhutan and Nepal”.

I then asked, “So why are you here in London, Wangchuk?”

“Oh, my father thought it would be a good idea for me to get a British education”.

My next question was: “So what does your father do in Sikkim, Wangchuk?”

“Oh, he’s in the government.”

“So what does he do in the government, Wangchuk?”

“Oh, he’s quite senior actually...”

“Well, how senior, Wangchuk?”

“Well, really quite senior.”

“Come on, Wangchuk – what does he do??”

“Oh for goodness sake, he’s the King, OK?!”

Stunned silence ensued, followed by an animated conversation about the political situation, and how unhappy his father was….

Wangchuk was always the most charming chap, although quite self effacing. I enjoyed his company immensely. “

The anecdote says more of a persona of the Chogyal Wangchuk Tenzing Namgyal and I believe whereever he is today, we do all respect him and love him.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Kishore Dungmali’s Anmol Tshan prepares for February 22nd premiere at Gangtok

Kishore Dungmali’s latest nepali movie venture “Anmol Tshan” is all set to have a grand premiere at Manan Kendra Bhawan, Gangtok on 22nd of this month. Sneha Rai of Majhitar and Shalom Kabo along with child artist Anurup Rai are the central characters of the movie. The story of Anmol Tshan depicts the life of the ordinary people. The film was shot at beautiful locations of Sikkim, Kalimpong and Kolkata.
The film had been the taking point in the nepali speaking populations of Sikkim, West Bengal, Assam and other parts of India since few months after its promotional audio was leaked and had gone viral.
Anmol Tshan is the second film under the banner of Sinai Enterprises produced by Kishore Dungmali which had earlier made a popular nepali film Angalo Yo Maya Ko starring Indian Idol Prashan Tamang. The film is directed by Anmol Gurung, a young Mass Communication Post Graduate. After its premiere at Sikkim, film will be screnned worldwide.

Botanists Frank Ludlow and George Sherriff with Frederick Williamson in Gangtok

Botanists Frank Ludlow and George Sherriff with Frederick Williamson in-front of Residency (Now Raj Bhawan) in Gangtok (1933). The botanist duo had visited Sikkim and Tibet in 30s and early 40s for specimen collection. (Photo Source: Wikipedia)

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Early hour fire engulfes dozen houses at Rhenock

The fire took place arond  12. 50 am of Februay 2, 2014. 17 houses had been completely damaged and 27 familes removed. No human injury had been reported till now.