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  Live Experiences
By Mr. Kumar ALFA
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Achambha Bathing Point, Gangtok

It was a Sunday, a day to relax, to forget or postpone your worries, tensions and stress situations. Previous evening was spent rather leisurely- an early closure of office, a slow walk on M.G. Marg, a quiet dinner and last but not the least, a late night movie on TV about oft-repeated topic of marital discord leading to separation and again ending at a reunion in true Indian style. Sleeping late also means getting up late. Nevertheless, I kept my appointment with Sharmaji to venture a walk upto the uppermost tier in the town despite my sprained ankle. We did visit the Palace Gumpa to receive the blessings of Guru Padmasambava, followed by a gentle walk down to the Flower Show, the Ridge Garden and the upper terminal point of Gangtok Ropeway. Having felt warm after forty minutes of walk, we did Pranayam in “a surrounding”, what Sharmaji often calls “is full of oxygen”.


Later part of the first half was spent in relaxed bathing in sun, so much so that time passed by and I forgot the actual bath and puja. Had a quiet meal with Hims, upon winding up our conversation about worldly affairs, unpredictable weather, responsibilities of parenthood, emerging political trends, state of economy, rising number of concrete houses & vehicles etc.


Sharp at 1.45 PM, we began our drive in a maroon coloured Alto towards Tashi Viewpoint. The town generally wore a deserted look. Occasionally, a few tourists would be seen here or there. It was a soothing, crystal clear and extremely attractive blue sky. It was difficult to spot a patch of cloud. By 2 PM, we reached the famous Tashi Viewpoint (6500 ft). Mt. Kanchenjunga, the third highest peak of the world, however, was not visible. Despite clear sky, it was covered with thick layers of blue & black clouds. The scenario in the foreground was nevertheless clear, so were a few snow clad peaks. Our binocular brought us still closer to snow capped mountains. A few tourists and lovers thronged the place. It was nice to notice that the point was spotlessly clean. We kept debating whether it was as a result of inculcation of good habits or reduction in tourist inflow at this time of the year. While descending, Sharmaji expressed a desire to have a cup of tea but I persuaded him to resist his temptation as we had seen hardly anything to feel fatigued.


The visit to next spot, a drive of barely a kilometer towards Ganesh Tok was quite an eye-opener. We stopped by an unimpressive, yet beautiful(due to its setting) waterfall. Began climbing rocks to our left. Having climbed almost seventy feet or so, we discovered a small pool of clean water. Since it was all quiet and sunny, I was desperate to take a nap. Noting impelled the same more than playing of mouth organ, which I had begun learning lately. While I was engrossed in it, Sharmaji took off his sweater and cap and began rolling up his jeans to feel quietly flowing clean water. I too touched it a couple of times but found it too cold to bear. In no time, I finished playing mouth organ and dozed off to sleep over the warm rocks. After it was quite some time (at least 20 minutes or so), I realized that I was all alone facing the waterfall. My friend had quietly disappeared to climb up to the upper main pool of water. He called me once he was sure that I had got rid of my unavoidable slumber. He advised me to continue relaxing, rather attempt another round of snoring, if needed, in such an idyllic setting. In contrast, however, I felt embarrassed.


The climb to the main pool was rather tedious, more so, due to my sprained ankle. Nevertheless, it was enjoyable. Just before we reached the summit, we had seen a few urchins, bathing and playing. By the time we reached our destination, they had disappeared. The sight of a natural pool of water of the size of 30x20 feet was very-very soothing. I wish we had brought towels/shorts with us. Another round of mouth organ was played. I became a virtual Pied Piper for a six-year-old boy, named Rohit Subba, who came up with his moving wheel and a plastic ball. He smiled and giggled. After some hesitation, he desired to know if we wished to take bath. We replied in negative. Nevertheless, we persuaded him to do the act. This he did, a couple of times before he finally decided to wear his birthday suit. He sat and rose, stood and jumped but it was quite some time before he began swimming. We soon discovered that he swam like a champion. By the time he came out, he was shivering. We gave him adequate moral courage and pat on his back.


When we turned back, we realized that four more children, namely, Sanjay, Vinod, Karna Bahadur and “no name” had come up and were staring at us, rather curiously. We exchanged greetings. It was learnt that they were all students of local Burtuk School. They were keen cricket beginners as well. One of them was carrying a small bat. Like Rohit, after showing initial hesitation, they all took dip into the pool water, one by one. They thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Once it was ensured that they were all dry, we began climbing down. Over the highway, on the request of children, we played a short game of cricket for an hour with a makeshift ball. The children were given a free ride after finishing the game.


We soon realized that time was clicking and the sun had begun descending. It was time for us to leave. We stopped near a somewhat developed picnic point, having a bigger and wider waterfall than the previous one but the serene and quiet atmosphere were missing. There were plenty of cars parked along the highway. A group of people added colour and gaiety to the place by their impromptu drinking and dancing. A teenaged couple was lost in its own world in one remote corner.


A festive mood on a still lower scale was noticed at Ganesh Tok (6200 ft), wherein, ultimately, I acceded to the request of my friend for having a hot cup of Temi Tea. A plate of tasty Potato Pakoras and Alu Chura came as a compliment from the group of dedicated poor women, who run the cafeteria. We did gulp a few hot & enjoyable Momos. While driving down, we saw the Sun setting behind Ranka Hills, next to Rumtek Monastery. A drizzle followed for a while.


It was a very satisfying and memorable day. It was a day, rather well spent, a day devoid of official and worldly worries & responsibilities. We were ready to face a “black” Monday after a cheerful Sunday.

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