Thursday, March 27, 2014

The man with a golden heart: Ganesh Pradhan

 first published in SPARK magazine, edited by Shital Pradhan

“…..his hunger never stops.” This often repeated phrase echoed by many of his friends aptly suits the persona of Mr. Ganesh Kumar Pradhan. Known mostly among the associates as a humble and soft spoken gentleman, this grand father have so far successfully carved a niche of himself among the odds.
               His Ram Gauri Sangalaya, named after his parent’s name is a self made personal museum which has in short time capitulated him name and fame across the state and beyond. The three storey museum house has had visitors including the Governor of Sikkim Shri V. Rama Rao, numerous ministers and MLAs, Chief Secretaries, DGPs, High ranked officials from Army and others beyond the state too have been to his home. Some of the noted personalities of ‘who is who’ of nepali world that have commented on his Visitor’s Book include names like Padmashree Sanu Lama, Dr. Harka Bahadur Chettri, Dr, Shanti Chettri, Late Kamal Ashu, Late Ganga Kaptan, Late R.P.Lama, Late Jagat Chettri, Moti Prasad Sharma, Late Bhai Chandra Pradhan, Dr. Kumar Pradhan, Tulshi Ghimeray, Bharma Deo Sharma “Bhaijee” (Rastriya Sangathan Mantri), Chunnilal Ghimeray, Padam Parajuli, M.S. Khan, Vidya Bharathi, Kedar Gurung and others.  The other dignitaries included

               Meet Ganesh Kumar Pradhan. At the age of 58, when most people would like to spend time resting at the home, he has not let his enthusiasm and his desire for more go down. He is the man who has tried to capture few moments of the past in his living room. It has been his source of inspiration for years and he still lives in pursuing his dreams and promises. He is passionate about his collection of stamps, coins, paper money, antiques, books and magazine, old documents, driftwood, river stones and above all his love for the indoor and bonsai plants. His personal museum Ram Gauri Sangalaya and his nursery Ever Green Nursery is among one of the tourist point for couple of years on the occasion on Aritar - Lampokhari Lake festival.

               Born and brought up in Rhenock, Ganesh Pradhan is the youngest son of Late Ramu Pradhan and Late Gauri Maya Pradhan. The former was a vendor and an honorary magistrate of the bench court at Rhenock. Pleased by the performance of Late Ramu Pradhan, Chogyal Palden Thondup Namgyal, King of Sikkim honoured him with an appreciation letter on King’s birthday. Late Ramu Pradhan had another achievement when he received a handwritten appreciation letter from the then Rai Sahab D.S. Pradhan. Known for his straightforwardness and hardworking Late Pradhan is still remembered by the old folks even to this day. Ganesh Pradhan inherited his interest in flowers and the collection of old documents from his father.
               His love for plants made him establish a nursery in 1986, thou his introductions to the floras were laid by his father. He called his nursery Ever Green Nursery. And to his floriculture collection he has diverse varieties of succulent ferns, perennial plants, ornamentals and a very rare pitcher plant (nepenthes khasiana). One of his bonsai of Azelia sp. (hosokawa japonica) is approaching half century mark and he is extremely proud of it. His other bonsai collections include Ficus variety i.e. f. benjomina, f. elastic, trengula, f. australian, f. mysorensis, f. remintacia. His bonsai sells from Rs 200 to Rs 5000. The bonsai plants included in his nursery are of flowering chaamp, guava, musleri, guava, peach and others fruits and flowers including magnolia pumila and magnolia fuscata. The formation of his nursery in far off Rhenock isn’t a new idea at all. The first nursery there – Chandra Nursery- was first set up in 1910 by Rai Sahib RP Pradhan and Late D.S. Pradhan. Ganesh Pradhan never forgets to mention they were his source of encouragement to set on his own nursery. His bonsai plant collection and stag horns was highly appreciated in recently concluded International Florishow held at Suramsa Garden. His Ever Green Nursery hold collection of three types of Stag Horns;  Platycerium alcicorne, wilheminaregina, and hybrid forms.
                He has a collection of over 600-odd driftwoods and artistic stones collected from the rivers beds of Reshi, Rangpo, Rorathang, Rongli and others. He believes this nature’s gift is the most beautiful decorative item for houses, instead of other costly antique available in the market and you believe me you don’t find any other decorative items in his house. Ganesh Pradhan has also exhibited his driftwood collection at Konark, Orissa in 1992 on the occasion of Craft Mela. Ganesh Pradhan is a most popular name in Sikkim Philately today. Philately is popularly known as stamp collection wherein Ganesh Pradhan has so far represented the Sikkim State in different state and national stamp exhibition.  Winner of State Level Philatelic exhibition in 2002 Ganesh Pradhan added another feather when under his guidance his talented son Ruben Pradhan was among the 18 students selected from India to participate in an International Philately Exhibition held at Tucson, Arizonia, United States.           

               Ganesh Pradhan has around 5,000 world wide commemorative stamps; couple of hundreds of first day covers, over 2000 coins and paper money from different part of the world.  His museum also has place for now rare two types of Sikkim coins - Chepte and Doli paisa. It is to be mentioned that Sikkim state had its individual coinage system that only lasted for couple of years. The year then was 1881-1883. We can find rare Mughal period, Gupta period coins, Tibet coins and many valuable more to be followed. His paper currencies include different old Indian paper notes, error notes. Polymer notes i.e. the plastic notes that are now commonly issued in different countries are the other highlight of his collection. Pradhan added it was an encouragement from Rajeev Shankar Shrestha, from Gangtok that has helped him divulge his interest in Stamps and coins.

               It is hard to believe how this gentleman manages his time for each of his hobby. And this is not yet end, his other collection include 400 to 500 books and magazines in nepali and English language, which included a few volumes of Sikkim’s first news magazine ‘’Kanchenjunga’’ and the first issue of Sikkim Herald (1959) where one of its issue dating 16th February 1967 was handwritten. He has documents as old as 1913s. His rich collection holds volumes of Nepali literary magazines that consist of Diyalo, Bharati, Dharti, Sarda, Nava Jyoti, Udai, Gorkha, Deepak, complete set of Sarstha and many more. Some of his rare documents include hand written copy of the original Ramayana written by Bhanu Bhakta. Age old nepali manuscripts on Chandi, Rudri, Bibah Pradati,Satyanarayan Katha and others,not common

               Documents of old khasra (1916), old khatian (1916), old land records (1913), notification of Sikkim State- both nepali and english (1916), price lists of Chandra Nursery exported flora (1937), old ration card (1952), bank receipts (1956), Durbar Gazettes (1966), letters of Rai Sahab Ratna Bhadhur Pradhan and Shri D.S. Pradhan and other old exceptional papers hold fascination among many peoples that does not find these resources else where. His nepali newspaper collection from the first issue is another item that people flock to watch. Those newspapers consist of Himalchuli, Himalayan Observer, Abh, Dainik Awaaz, Sunchgari, Aaja Bholi, Samay Danik, Hamro Prajashakti, Himalai Bela and others. His other obsession lies in collecting antiques, be they cooking utensils, locks, old cameras, telegraph machines, lanterns from Germany and America, bangles, newari items, gramophone, etc. He has exhibited his collection in many places and had also won prizes.

               Speaking on his accomplishment Ganesh Pradhan considers his effort as a way to educate the coming generation about the artifacts of yester years. Pradhan believes if we are to make progress we also need to carry on our past too. We shall never know our future if we do not know our past, he added. Those materials are the source of future study that will be of assistance the moment in time of those days. And the long forgotten past which he had tried to bring together is a tribute to the works of our ancestors. Ganesh Pradhan never fails to help people understand the beauty of a collecting every bits and pieces.

               He has been felicitated by Karunadevi Smarak Dharmatma Guthi (Rhenock), Yuva Sahitya Pratisthan (Sikkim), Akhil Sikkim Newar Sangathan, Himali Prakashan (Dentam), Youth Development Society of Sikkim and Sagar Prakashan Takehang, East Sikkim. His work had found appreciation letters from the Governor Shri V. Rama Rao, Army Official Lt. Gen Ashok Chaki and others.

               Married to Kamala Pradhan, he has a daughter Bobbina (a grand son from her) and two sons, Ruben and Deepen. His family is very supportive in pursuing his passion and helps him in every step. His self – made museum is open for anyone to visit. If you show interest in his plants and driftwood he may even sell you some but……… you need to have the heart of a collector.

Happy 8th Birthday to you Bebay....

Happy 8th Birthday to you Bebay....

Samai katti chitto bitchha hai....last time we met it was more than one and half year back. Since then i have not seen you and even not heard you. As usual i see you grow in photographs only.
Samay ko paribandha bitra baadhiye ko manchey mah.....aafnai chori lai bhetnu pani katti ahsajilo. Bebay, hami manchey hau, bachnu parchha. Hami chittai bhetney chau....
Maya chha, maya bich hamro kohi aauney chainah......mah yaha chuu...tah thaya chaas....mah talai samzhinai baschu..tero astitwa lai bachayerai rakhekai chhu.....sayad tah pani malai sochney garchass nai hola....hami chittai bhetney chau........

Chori...mero pani mann nai chaa....

Love AYE


Saturday, March 22, 2014

Two birds; two stories

I am new to bird watching and I am glad to say I am enjoying it. In the last two months I have come across more than 40 species of avian diversity. From the smallest of humming birds to the biggest, the Cormorants; the avian world is beautiful and beyond any comparisons. In recent times, I am very fond to two birds; sparrows as a whole and a common mynah particularly the one I had recently discovered that had a deformed upper mandible and I named him “Machindra”.
Couple of days back, we observed World Sparrow Day at Chisopani JHS, where I am a primary school teacher. The programme was a successful one and we saw large numbers of students participating at the event. From a bird hunter to surrendering their catapults was itself an achievement of the event. There were students who had been hunting birds in the wild for more than three years. To hear those students saying that they were wrong in doing so and they will in near future protect those harmless birds tell us the success of our programme. We might have been late in introducing such kinds of programme but it is for sure our intention and motive has hit the right cord. It was only during the awareness interaction between the resource persons and the students I came to know most of the beautiful birds and beautifully singing birds belong to male category.
Little did I have thought that the concrete jungles we human are creating are one of the reasons for the downfall of the House Sparrow locally called “Bhangerra” (Nepali language). That small creature likes wooden houses and live in the cavities of old houses which are now very hard to find. Due to lack of house factors, the house sparrow’s eggs gets destroy and their population is in a decrease. Today’s highly qualified civilization do not prefer to catch hold on nestling materials being dropped at their houses or gardens, is the other reason that people have left appreciating these small birds  Feeding sparrows are limited to lesser people compared to few decades back. There are various other reasons for the downfall of sparrow population but I am sure we all need to come together and save this small creature for the survival of our environment, for the balancing of the nature. Why not support these birds by having a bird nest and bird feeders at your house?
Few days back I came across a strange looking Common Mynah (“rupp-pee” as we call it in Nepali) at the verandah of my home, surprisingly its upper mandible had scrolled towards sky. I found it very strange and close to her was another rupp-pee walking side by side. I could not believe that the other bird was feeding grains to the malformed one. Amazingly I came to learn from source that male Common Mynahs are larger in size compared to the female. I found that normal looking Common Mynah’s bill was shorter than the deformed bird. To my notice, the deformed bird was larger than the other bird when together. So, does that mean a female bird was feeding the male one!!
The deformed bird visited me yesterday and since then I had given him (though still confused with its gender) a name “Machindra” that means mysterious. Several questions of how (!) raised within my small mind and believe me the bird seems so healthy despite its abnormality. I saw no sign of abnormality affecting him. I saw him walking perfectly, scratching his dorsal part as any other bird does and even recorded its high-pitched scream. Being a nature lover Machindra has caught my fancy and everyday in the morning I try to look for him, expecting something different to watch! Bird watching is fun and it is a pleasurable experience, do try it….!!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Hissey Doma Bhutia to act in Doordarshan Primetime Television Series “Ek Tha Rusty”


23 years old Hissey Doma Bhutia from Arithang, Gangtok been identified by New Delhi based production house Crown Communication to act in a Doordarshan Primetime Television Series “Ek Tha Rusty” based on novel of Ruskin Bond.  Earlier Sikkimese gal Sangay Udenla was picked up and she is in the shooting at Mussoorie right now.  Hisey had already done cameo role in Remanti Rai’s song “Pokhawnu Sakina”, besides she had recently acted in Bhutia song “Nying Tam” in lead model; acted in many music videos and performed many dance sequels in local events. She had already worked with one of the famous choreographer of Mr. Kamal Rai Nepali Film coreographer.
Bhutia’s hobbies includes dance, reading, travelling.  Director of this series Shubhadarshini Singh who had plenty of experience in Motion Pictures had already directed many short movies, serials and documentaries for different television channels. She had also directed a short documentary film based on Mt. Kanchenjunga while visiting Sikkim, documentary is yet to be premiered in Sikkim. Hissey will be flying to New Delhi on 26th of March and her shooting begins from 28th March to 1st April at Dehradun.

World Sparrow Day observed at Chisopani JHS

SINGTAM, MARCH 21:  The students and teachers observed World Sparrow Day at its school building on March 20. The day marked with an awareness workshop followed by competitions on activities related to preservation and conservation of birds. Santosh Sharma (pursuing PhD on Avian diversity of Sikkim, Gurukula Kangri University, Haridwar) and Krishna Prasad Dahal, (pursuing M.Sc on Forestry, NERIST, Arunachal Pradesh) were the speakers of the day. Mahesh Dahal, Headmaster, Chisopani JHS and his staff were present on the occasion. More than hundred students attended the programme.
The best part of the day was when few students submitted their catapults to the school and vowed not to shoot the birds in near future. Altogether 8 catapults were received by the school. Competitions were held for the students that included nest making, tree house making, pla cards and short speech on importance of birds. More than 40 students had participated on the competitions. Following were the winners: Sabitra Dahal and Sita Rasaily (pla-cards), Nilu Rai (Bamboo Tree model for birds), Rikit Gurung (nest making), Bindhya Subba (short speech on importance of birds) and Ranjit Darjee, special prize (Bamboo Tree model for birds). The prizes were sponsored by RRC Badhaichha Creation, Singtam.
The day long programme was held in two sessions; first session had students of class Pre to class iv while the next session featured students of class v, vi and viii. Mahesh Dahal, Headmaster, Chisopani JHS gave the welcome speech and spoked about the importance of the day. Dahal said it is the need of time to preserve birds before it is too late. Students should always adore the beauty of nature and preserve it, he added. Santosh Sharma and Krishna Dahal, the resource persons showed visual presentations of the importance of birds and interacted with the students. 
Initially, Santosh Sharma highlighted the relationship between vegetation structure and composition, human beings and birds. He emphasized the role of avian species in maintaining essential ecosystem services such as pollination; importance of the conservation of avian biodiversity in general and sparrow in particular. He went on to say that birds are the indicators of the health of the ecosystem as they are very sensitive to any kind of disturbance in any habitat.
Krishna Dahal in his talk encouraged the students to observe birds and note down the variation in the characteristics of different species. Dahal further went on to say those small creatures requires care as we humans need. Survival of human race depends upon environment they live and it gets worse when avian are not found, he added. He also shared information on different avian species being called as the state birds in India. Shital Pradhan, teacher Chisopani JHS was the host of the day while CM Chettri gave the vote of thanks.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Common mynah bill deformity

The only tortoise species found in Sikkim!!

In my little knowledge there are two instance that a tortoise was ever recorded in Sikkim. on both ocassion the tortoise was reported to be Indotestudo elongata. 
* The first recorded instance was during the last week of July 2008 a little yellow tortoise was found by two labours working at the site of a Rock Garden construction, at the base of nearby Tarey Bhir (South Sikkim) on the bank of a seasonal rivulet called Khanni Khola.that was later identified by Usha Lachungpa Sr. Research Officer (WL), she identified it as a male Sal Forest Tortoise Indotestudo elongata (Blyth) of the Family Testudinidae.
* The second finding was from Chalamthang near Rhenock (East Sikkim) on June 27, 2011. The yellowish color tortoise weighed around 3.5 to 4 Kg. It was latter taken to Kitam Bird Sanctuary. It was rescued by Mani Kumar Pradhan, resident of Chalamthang. The department confirmed the species as Indotestudo elongata, an endangered species.
This cold-blooded reptile is one of the only four land tortoises found in India. It is legally protected under Schedule IV of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 as amended up to 2006.

Pic: Deepen Pradhan

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Generous Student Chisopani JHS supports marathon man

SINGTAM, MARCH 2: Generous Student Chisopani JHS, East Sikkim today welcomed Amar Subba, marathon man at NH 31, Chisopani one and half kilometer from Singtam on his way to Gangtok. Mahesh Dahal, Headmaster Chisopani JHS, Shital Pradhan and Sushma Pradhan (teachers, Chisopani JHS), Arjun Chettri, Headmaster Tadong PS (North Sikkim), Class VII students of Chisopani JHS were present on the occasion. Subba reached at Chisopani at around 8.30 in the morning. Students and teachers with placard cheered Amar Subba.
Amar Subba was on a solo marathon of covering 125km from Darap (West Sikkim) to Gangtok (East Sikkim). The motive behind the event was to raise fund for Mayalmu Sangh, a shelter home at Gangtok. The event was supported by Press Club of Sikkim.
Subba was offered khadas by the teachers and students and they praised his efforts. An amount of Rs. 1500 was also offered to the escorting team. In his short halt, he interacted with the students and encouraged to work better in sports and cultural activities.
Subba speaking to the teachers said he had participated in different marathon competitions but this occasion was above all, this event gave him an opportunity and a realization of being human. He thanked everyone and told on this run he found that there are people for social cause.
Every school prepares the citizen of tomorrow; we the Generous Student Chisopani JHS prepare the culture for tomorrow’s society. In this student forum, we give practical lessons to students to help the needful, said Mahesh Dahal, speaking about Generous Student Chisopani JHS.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Anmol Tshan: redefining family values

Nepali film making in Sikkim is growing and to add to its growing list comes “Anmol Tshan” with a tag line ‘a Christmas in September”. Produced by Kishore Dungmali Rai under Sinai Enterprises, whose earlier Nepali film “Angalo Yo Maya Ko” starring Prashant Tamang, Indian Idol winner was a major success.
Anmol Tshan, comes with a technically maturity and could be counted among the films that could change the perspective scenario of film-making in Sikkim. Despite newcomers, the film makes sincere attempts to highlight the approach of a living relationship and its bitter consequence that is more of a common trend in major towns and cities. The film Anmol Tshan (Precious Moment) makes us believe that responsibility comes past better understanding that we do not bother to look upon. Running away from crisis isn’t the solution, one need to be courageous enough to face it off. The film is more about family values and being together that makes a life beautiful and memorable.
The story of the film revolves around Anmol (Shalom Kabo) and Anna (Sneha Rai). Anmol had left his village life at Dharap, Sikkim for the charm of a city-life in Kolkata. His father sell’s ancestor land to fulfill his son’s impatience to go to Kolkata. Sometime afterward, Anmol meets Anna, a college going student at an inn and they gets attracted towards each other. They decide to live together at Anmol’s dwelling. Their life takes unsightly turn over when Anmol finds that Anna is expecting a child. Anmol convinces Anna to abort the child, but Anna wants to give birth that leaves no alternative for Anmol other than to marry Anna. Addi, their son is born; Anmol blames Anna for every possible setback. He enjoys company of his friend Sunny (Sunny Lepcha) more than his family. Anmol and Anna finally decide to close down their relationship and apply for divorce.
Destiny had an unknown fear awaiting them, their son Addi is found to be suffering from HIV. The world of Anmol and Anna is shaken; Anmol blames Anna for their child’s illness. Dr. Bhutia (Kishore Dungmali Rai) undergoing Addi’s treatment unfolds the truth that Anmol’s blood sample contained HIV and had been transmitted to Anna and later on to their child. Thereafter Anmol realizes it was he who was killing his family; he makes up his mind that he will make every instant of his family’s life a precious moment to live on. He returns back to Dharap to meet his parent. To fulfill Addi’s wishes they even celebrate ‘Christmas in September’. Addi’s death brings Anmol and Anna closer and they try to overlook failures in life and settles for precious moments till they remain together.
Anmol Tshan succeeds in enthralling the imagination of the audience. Some of the scenes are beautifully performed, especially the one in which Anmol gets to know that his son is suffering from HIV. The reaction of Anmol shown on screen is one of the best scenes in Nepali cinema. The emotional scenes between Anmol and Anna bring tears.  
Shalom Kabo and Sneha Rai have carried the entire films on their shoulder and in spite of their maiden films they have not left the requirement of seasoned actors. Anurup Rai, the child artiste had played his part very beautifully and reminds of young Jugal Hansraj from Hindi film “Massom”. Sunny Lepcha, playing the role of Anmol’s friend Sunny and Gyan Gurung, playing Anmol’s father needs special mention and they were outstanding in their characters. Timothy Rai and Kishore Dungmali Rai in the cameo were too worth mentioning.
Anmol Gurung’s direction and his screenplay is the biggest star of the film. The emotional scenes, the tussles between the husband and wife are part of present day scenario and it had been well brought about on screen. The music too adds pleasure to the movie. The film like Anmol Tshan is a welcome gesture and it shows our filmmakers are growing towards better ventures. For every precious moment, there are possibilities that happiness passes on and we should live for today and eventually our tomorrow will be better.