Random and Biased observations in a cafe in Darjeeling (13/01/13)…from diary

Spending time doing nothing inside a cafe after ages. Refreshing. A typical corpo-yuppy family walks in. Nothing wrong in that obviously. Just that a visibly bore, self-absorbed husband and an all too keen wife and loud kids… a bit too painfully familiar site. A bit unwelcome for me here in the mountains. Suddenly all the chairs in the cafe pulled out- the other new visitors have no place to sit. Again- nothing wrong with that. Just reminds of the over-crowded food courts in the endless and thankless malls. Nothing wrong in the whole attitude of the kids- who start demanding and communicating their choice of the food for the whole cafe to hear. In response the men in the group show their “men-ness” by ordering around the staff in a self-help restaurant. I am counting the seconds before they start off on the lack of work culture in the hills…..YES! One guy mentions! My sense of refreshment is all but gone.

A man in front of me seems far removed from all this. He is an artist and has converted an old notebook into a sketchbook. He is busy putting life in the lifeless paper by the interweaving tapestry of lines to come up with a visual representation of the beautiful view outside the windows. Old, yellow paper. Pages meant for ruthless black-white words getting decorated and coming back to life. Long after its death. Is everyone that lucky? I don’t know. In the meanwhile the artist continues his work. Oblivious of the world around. He is recording the scenery of the hills outside the windows in his sketch-notebook. I am not so lucky with my skill sets. I depend on the written words. I belong to the city. The cacophony of loud small talk and complaints draw me more than the silent beauty of the hills outside. He keeps sketching without bothering about the 5-6 kids and their parents who belong to India- ethnic India but choose to continue their cacophony in English. The noisy self-absorbed group keeps disturbing my thought chain and keeps telling me that in more ways than one I am yet to become lifeless.

English divided us in more ways than we could think of. Today the haloed members of the upper echelons of the society have to necessarily desert their mother-tongue and speak in English. To prove and announce to whoever is listening- that they belong to the upper echelons of the society. People who have proof in the Facebook of their globe-trotting escapades. Proof that they have arrived in those upper echelons. In fact today mother-tongue has become English as mothers and fathers wag their tongues only to the English language….

In another table three oriental ladies are drinking tea. One of them has a camera. She is clicking away. And all the while they are chatting away in their “mother tongue”, which by the way is not English, thankfully. They would be from a country which has not been colonized by any European nation. Their mothers still speak the language of the soil- the mother tongue. And the mothers of their kids will also do the same.

Behind me a couple is meditating in front of their laptops. Some deep research going on i guess. I sneaked away a few photos of the lady. I know it is not right. But i cannot help it. She has a beautiful face. Even more beautiful eye-brows.

the lady with beautiful eye-brows

the lady with beautiful eye-brows

Somewhat in response to the sudden jump in the noise levels in the cafe and the ensuing cacophony thanks to the group from the haloed upper-echelons the DJ fellow changed the song on the pipe-music system. Mohit chauhan is pleading:

Jo bhi mein kehna chahun

Barbaad karen alfaaz mere….

But are they listening? the alfaaz keeps shooting off the over-busy tongues and tearing down upon the rest of the patrons like a rain of poisonous arrows. How the coffee is not as good as in Costa…how Wengers makes better pastries…(Gimme a Break!!!)… how Langkawi actually is more beautiful…..

In the afternoon during my visit to the zoo i stopped beside the cage of the langurs. There was a family of langurs inside the papa, the mama and the kiddo. The papa and the mama langur holding the kiddo in tight embrace from both sides. I stopped stunned with the beauty of the site. The beauty of the love that emanated from the three langurs protecting each other in the biting cold with nothing other than themselves for help. And then one of the “upper-echelon” families charged in. “Oh baby! gimme a snap! Oh baby gimme a snap! sweet baby, come to mama!…..”Beta you should call like this…pyaar se ..”

the langur family

the langur family

What is there in this newly liberalised educated urban population who think they know everything that is to be known about everything and they have a birth-right to think of any place as their drawing-room I don’t know. The Facebook reeks of so much of this filth. The city watering holes no less. But i thought the hills in sub-zero temperatures will be spared. No such luck. Even at -4deg Tiger Hill at dawn there was that Ipad aunty who kept screaming and brandishing her ipad in front of my face to “take the picture”. The fact that I was actually running to the hills to breathe away from this crowd now looks like a sad irony. But thats it. No more complaining. Off I go from Glenarys, to return at a quieter time. The Mall and the bylanes of Darjeeling awaits me. Move over Jo BHi Mein… time to sing

Resham Phiriri Resham phiririii

Udera Jaun Ko Dandai Ma Bhanjyang Resham Phiririii !!!



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