Pink Twins

Pink Twins
Gangtok

Yellow Villa

Yellow Villa
Gangtok

Sparkling Rai Saag

Sparkling Rai Saag
Gangtok

Lovely Poppy Flowers

Lovely Poppy Flowers
Gangtok

A Different type of Seasonal Flower

A Different type of Seasonal Flower
Gangtok

Blue Flavour

Blue Flavour
Gangtok

Pink & White Combination

Pink & White Combination

Dark Pink Flavour

Dark Pink Flavour
Gangtok 6th March 16

Purple Charm

Purple Charm
CS Quarter Gangtok

Magnificent Yellow and Red Tulip

Magnificent Yellow and Red Tulip
Conservatory Near Selep Tank

Charm of Red Tulips

Charm of Red Tulips
Conservatory near Selep Tank

Lord Buddha

Lord Buddha
1-D Terminal New Delhi

Attraction of Red Panda

Attraction of Red Panda
Saramsa Garden

Lord Ganesh made of oranges

Lord Ganesh made of oranges
Saramsa Garden

Charm of Seasonal Flower

Charm of Seasonal Flower
Gaurds Ground Gangtok

Unmatched beauty

Unmatched beauty
Sikkim Organic Festival

Green is always soothing

Green is always soothing
Sikkim Organic Festival 2016

Yellow Orchid

Yellow Orchid
Somewhere in Gangtok

White Orchid

White Orchid
Manan Kendra

Purple Orchid

Purple Orchid
Manan Kendra, 31-10-2015

Gift of Nature

Gift of Nature
Near Cherry Building

Majestic View of Sea

Majestic View of Sea
Marina, Chennai, 19-10-15

Typical Sikkim Pillar Carving and painting

Typical Sikkim Pillar Carving and painting
Hotel Nork Hill

Mirror Reflection, Changed Angle

Mirror Reflection, Changed Angle
Nork Hill, 24-11-2015

Mirror Trick

Mirror Trick
Hotel Nork Hill, Gtok, 24-11-2015

Yes we have the power

Yes we have the power
Qtr at Devt Area, 25-11-2015

Majestic View of K.jenga from SLA

Majestic View of K.jenga from SLA
Gangtok dt 20-11-2015

MIRROR IMAGE OR COMPUTER TRICK

MIRROR IMAGE OR COMPUTER TRICK
NEW DELHI 22-10-15

BRILLIANT KATHAK PERFORMANCE

BRILLIANT KATHAK PERFORMANCE
MRS MALI SMU 13-10-2015

SAROD RECITAL

SAROD RECITAL
SMU CONVOCATION 13-10-15

SHOWCASING SIKKIM CULTURE

SHOWCASING SIKKIM CULTURE
ITM GANGTOK 14-10-15

RED BEAUTY

RED BEAUTY
GANGTOK

ARCHITECTURAL MARVEL

ARCHITECTURAL MARVEL
MAYFAIR GANGTOK

OM NAMAH SHIVAY

OM NAMAH SHIVAY
MAYFAIR GANGTOK 02-11-15

Smile and Joy

Smile and Joy
24th September Delhi

Catelia Orchid

Catelia Orchid
Gangtok

Beautiful Chinaware Lampshed

Beautiful Chinaware Lampshed
Gangtok

Catelia Orchid

Catelia Orchid
Gangtok on 7-10-15

Morning Glow

Morning Glow
Denzong Regency- Gangtok on 7-10-15

Pink Orchid

Pink Orchid
Pakyong Area

Green Orchid

Green Orchid
Bojeytar Pakyong 26 Feb 15

Tabla or Log Piece

Tabla or Log Piece
HMI Darjeeling Nov 2014

Hand can do anything

Hand can do anything
Birla Science Museum Kolkata

Legacy and Heritage

Legacy and Heritage
Indian Museum Kolkata

Queen Nephretus of Egypt

Queen Nephretus of Egypt
India Museum Kolkata 4th Mar 15

A Buddhist Stone Art Piece

A Buddhist Stone Art Piece
Tashi Delek June 2014

Foot Print of Bason

Foot Print of Bason
Satpura Forest

Foot Print of Tiger

Foot Print of Tiger
Satpura Forest (MP) March 14

Unique Piece of Pine Wood

Unique Piece of Pine Wood

Lovely Twins

Lovely Twins

Pink,Pink,Pink

Pink,Pink,Pink
Orchid,not only Spl ,It lasts longer Also

Clean Water has a Different Impact

Clean Water has a Different Impact
Rangeet at Jorethang ,24-11-14

What a Ravishing Beauty ?

What a Ravishing Beauty ?
Teesta near Kalijhora, 19-12-14

Pre Dawn Captivating Beauty

Pre Dawn Captivating Beauty
K.JUNGA, 6:20 AM 18 -12-14

Another Dawn View -Different Angle

Another Dawn View -Different Angle
K.JUNGA, 18-12-14

View at Dawn in Biting Cold

View at Dawn in Biting Cold
K.JUNGA 18-12

Dawn Scene-2

Dawn Scene-2
V Awas 18 -12-14

Dawn Scenario

Dawn Scenario
K.JUNGA

Morning Means End of Night

Morning Means End of Night
K. JUNGA,

View at Dawn

View at Dawn
K.JUNGA 2 ,18-12-14

Early Morning Freshness

Early Morning Freshness
K.JUNGA, 18-12-14

What an eye opener early in the day?

What an eye opener early in the day?
View of 17-12-2014 from Terrace of V. Awas

Another view of full snow around Mt Kanchendzonga

Another view of full snow around  Mt Kanchendzonga
17-12-2014

Magnificent view after bone chilling night

Magnificent view after bone chilling night
17-12-2014

Beauty of Kachendzonga after a cold night

Beauty of Kachendzonga after a cold night
Vidhayak Awas Gangtok

Amazing charm of Green Orchid

Amazing charm of Green Orchid
HMI Darjeeling

Green Orchid

Green Orchid
HMI DARJEELING (13-11-14)

Bell Flower in full bloom

Bell Flower in full bloom

Yellow Orchid

Yellow Orchid
Dec 14 Circuit House

View of Kanchendzonga always inspires

View of Kanchendzonga always inspires
Vidhayak Aawas Gangtok

Cherry Blossom

Cherry Blossom
November 14 Ganesh Tok Gangtok

What a view after getting up ?

What a view after getting up ?
B-1 Vidhayak Aawas Gangtok

Chanda Mama looking at Kanchendzonga

Chanda Mama looking at Kanchendzonga
11-11-2014 VIP COLONY

Red Rose

Red Rose
Gangtok

Cranes having Gala Time

Cranes having Gala Time
Tigaon, Faridabad (2nd Oct 14)

Yes I am from Faridabad

Yes I am from Faridabad
Tiny, Beautiful Bird at NTPC, Ballabgarh (29.9.14)

Water Vital for Life

Water Vital for Life
Awesome view of Teesta near Kalijhora

Yes I had a Bath

Yes I had a Bath
Gladiola at 6200 ft.

Soothing Morning View

Soothing Morning View
Mt. Khangchendzonga from C.House (April, 14)

Natural Yellow Fascinates

Natural Yellow Fascinates
Gangtok (April, 2014)

Flowery Bell ?

Flowery Bell ?
Circuit House (May 14)

Riot of Colour in Monsoon

Riot of Colour in Monsoon
Circuit House, Gangtok(May 14)

Blushing orange

Blushing orange
Circuit House Gangtok (May 14)

Magnificent Taj

Magnificent Taj
Sept 2013

I can lift Taj Mahal

I can lift Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal,Sept end 2013

Natural fan to beat the heat

Natural fan to beat the heat
India Gate (24.08.14)

Engineering Marvel

Engineering Marvel
Coronation Bridge (22.08.2014)

Cascading water, soothing to eyes

Cascading water, soothing to eyes
Scene near Teesta Baazar (22.8.14)

Teesta attracts at every bend

Teesta attracts at every bend
16.7.2014

Monkey jump

Monkey jump
Teesta River, Birik(22.8.14)

Onset of Night

Onset of Night
Qutub,Sept.13

Qutub,Dusk Scene

Qutub,Dusk Scene
Sept.13

Together we take a Plunge

Together we take a Plunge
Clean Calicut Beach, Feb-2013

Setting Sun, always soothing

Setting Sun, always soothing
Dusk at a Gaya village(15.5.13)

Green Paradise in Concrete Jungle

Green Paradise in Concrete Jungle
Lake surrounding Purana Quila(20.10.13)

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Sachin, Epitome of Simplicity


Once India had taken a commanding 313 run lead over the West Indies and had also claimed their three crucial wickets in the 2nd innings of the Wankhede Test, it looked certain that Sachin was not going to get a chance to play Test Cricket again. In view thereof, I thought it proper to scribble the following humble lines in his honour :

I am in a dilemma. How to begin? For, I am not qualified enough to write about a man, rather a phenomenon, who is so unique and incredible, who makes difficult tasks so simple. Who has no aura, no airs. He is unassuming to the core. Will perhaps never make you bore. With his antics, smile, camaraderie or performance. He does not hurt. Has rarely entered into or created controversies during the momentous 24 years he played for the nation.

He had his ups and downs, climaxes and low points, wins and setbacks, a few embarrassing moments, yet, he could carry himself with grace and dignity. His extempore speech at Mumbai on the day of naming of a sports complex after him will be permanently etched in one's memory. He spoke from heart, to say the least.

15th November,2013,a cool Friday will be the most memorable day for the living legend. On this day ,24 springs back he donned the country's colours in Pakistan, as a tense 16 year old teenager when the test cricket, per se, was decisively dominated by the middle aged men. The Australian and Pakistani fiery speedsters were knocking out every conceivable and emerging talents. AND money power too was yet to show its attraction & tentacles. But Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar was not only determined to make a statement but he was also there to stay for long.

He did not score a ton on debut but with his grit, hard work and overall balanced conduct, both on and off the field, he gave enough hints for a long, consistent and sustained performance in two forms of cricket. The latest one, i.e.20-20, turned out to be too much in view of his advancing age and emergence of many fitter and younger brethren, at least in non-IPL tournaments.

Over ten days, the whole of country led by ever resilient and joyous Kolkata and now Mumbai is singing praises (including Chalisas), discussing, confabulating, displaying and reminiscensing about the Master Blaster and rightly so. One can learn a great deal and draw inspiration from the career of this genius, for name and fame never really got into his head. He was never perturbed or shaken by the debacles in Australia, a decade ago or in England in not too distant a past or for that matter, the biting tongue of a handful of Australian Cricketers.


His 46 Test wickets,68 half centuries,100 centuries(51+49)15,921Test runs,18,426 one day runs are by any standards no mean achievements. It may be futile to say that such a record may not be equalled or broken. For that will go against the very spirit of the game, of any competition. Once upon a time, Sunil Gavaskar from the same crammed up Mumbai was on top of the world (without helmet) for more than a decade. Thereafter, another little Master-Tendulkar sprung up to make his mark.

While paying rich tributes to him, one should not, however, forget that he had become a spent force, if not a liability, on many occasions in the recent past, yet his past accomplishments and selfless service to the nation carried him forward. He was, in the ultimate analysis, rightly given chance after chance till his own conscience convincingly conveyed- "I hereby hang my gloves for the sake of other deserving lots".

Sachin rightly deserves to be remembered and followed like an IDOL or role model in every field of human endeavour. Let us not belittle him by discussing whether he should be conferred with the Bharat Ratna or whether he is greater than the game itself.

Dissemination of his vast knowledge and technique through setting up a politics-free Academy for the budding talents would be a more appropriate and sound proposition. The game of Cricket will continue to be played with more gutso and enthusiasm but in the words of the 'Nightingale' Lata Mangeshkar, "a pinch will be noticeable in days to come".




Monday, November 4, 2013

British October: Saga of Changing Norms and Emerging Patterns


It was by sheer accident and not by design that I had a pleasant interface with the British Council Library (BCL),after good 13 years. Located now in a tall building with an outlandish yet attractive fa├žade(reminds of chocolate spread) on KG Marg, New Delhi, the setting in a concrete jungle looks better than the crammed up accommodation 18 years ago at the AIFACS building, next to Red Cross & Parliament on Rafi Marg turning.
 Down Memory Lane
 I had the opportunity to visit both the locations a couple of times in the last 35 years. Though BCL was an integral part of my growing up years in Ranchi (one would cycle with joy a distance of 8 kms), it somehow never fulfilled my desire for reading, forget about learning. Apart from seeing, touching and turning a few classics (kept in spotlessly clean surroundings) on Economics, History, Political Science and Literature ( one could not make any head or tail out of them), it was a real fun to swiftly run through the innumerable illustrated and sports pages of Time, Economist, The Times, The Observer, The Daily Telegraph etc. Coming to Indian newspapers, if my ordinary memory does not fail me, only The Statesman of Calcutta was subscribed. Why? Because, it probably appealed to, if not acceded to the colonial British ethos and life styles. Sri Prasad, the ‘brown’ deputy librarian would attempt European accent at times, akin to our ‘Father Teachers’.
Ignored Motherland
No one would answer my, the, then justifiable query-‘Why the bulky overseas publications (some newspapers would run into almost 50 pages) did not carry any news/feature concerning India? Was it still a forbidden land? I was bestowed with an answer rather late, when I began truly ‘deciphering’ the meaning of the word ’bias’ during my splendid higher education opportunity in JNU. Perhaps, I understand it much better now as a fading, non-descript civil servant, entangled in the mystical web of hypocrisy in bureaucracy.
BCL In Present Setting
Shall we go back to the present BCL before we lose focus? My immediate impression was- what a change? At a first glance it resembles a jail, not a place of reading. Ostensibly,out of heightened security concerns. One struggles to find the reading room. Entry due to my institutional card was friendly. I carry the ‘Member card’ around my neck rather proudly, till I discover that all Tom,Dick and Harries too were prominently displaying it. My body & bag were, nevertheless, not spared from mechanical and manual checking.
Groups and pairs were thronging the small, well manicured lawn and the steps leading to the main pink coloured edifice.  One wrong step and I land up in the crowded Counselling area, to be politely guided to my ultimate destination on the first floor.
Variety Exposure & Entertainment
Once inside, it was going to be an amazing experience. Despite my willingness to get rid of my bag, the usual property counter was nowhere to be sighted. One of the busy attendants, explains, I could carry everything inside (also laptop, cell phone, make up kit etc.?), since they had a sensor at the exit gate. Strange,but true. I had to live with another security if not precaution related reality reflecting the changing times.
All kinds of dresses and attire of myriad sizes and shapes, strange hair styles, ear rings and footwear in vibrant colors were on display. One was tempted to get into a comparison mode. Readers were predominantly young, not forgetting to comb hairs in between, see display on cells and surf through net on laptops recklessly. Majority were studying & reading. Some were taking notes also in trying conditions. A few, romantic types were flicking through. Rest were pretending. O yes!, those found attempting a nap or showing inappropriate etiquettes, were politely & promptly cautioned from time to time.
Whispering Windows Reflecting Emerging Patterns
Whispers off and on involved both young girls & boys. Presumably, topic may have been, what the latest issue of India Today reports-using acronyms and code words(alien to parents) to bare souls to strangers on social networking websites of Facebook and Twitter, living in unreal world by forging friendships, without realizing that the perils of excessive social networking could harm them emotionally in the long run. The possible causes could be- strictly nuclear family environment, an urge to achieve something ahead of time by defying the prescribed and time tested laws of nature & gravity and purported lack of convenient sports and entertainment facilities.
I close my eyes and utter with bonafide intentions- “Unusual and unnatural conformity with the peer group by showing antagonism towards the elders could be traumatic as also counterproductive. Resultant state of non-function or dys-function should be resisted.”
A quick round follows. Afterall, the rhythm generated had to be sustained. At the same time, I could not possibly retain a standing posture for long. When I look for a seat, I cannot succeed. Not even a stool was available. As such, the colorful chairs looked casual, as if one was roaming in a picnic joint on a sea shore or about to hit floors in  a disco. The stereotyped library chairs or couches, meant to give support to back and enhance concentration were conspicuous by their absence. One of the active attendants added to my woes by stating “this was the rush time, so tolerance and patience on the part of  the deprived was advisable.”

Bias vis- a-vis India
Upon seeing and opening and seeing again a few eye catching books on Sociology, Psychology, Economics and International Affairs, I lay my hands on a handful of notable reference volumes. One such book was Whitakers’ World of Facts (claimed to have every subject) published from London in 2005(it had to be British). I was aghast to read the following lines on page 139, once again written about our motherland with a certain bias-“Indian economy is seriously weakened by overpopulation. About 25% of the Indians cannot (?) afford to feed themselves. Most people still live by farming but India has a booming I.T. Industry.
My hectic search for an authentic book on population policy or its stabilization resulted into utter failure. For, one could see only a few hundred books in physical form. It was gathered that majority were now available on line and that too in the several branches of BCL. Being computer illiterate, I , therefore, decide to give up & explore other available non-electronic options.
Experience of Reading Cross Legged
I resolve finally to turn truly Indian in an otherwise British setting. Look for some space on floor and manage also. A few trials and I make myself comfortable next to a corner shelf in the periodical section. The adjacent children section looks somewhat deserted. I feel dejected. It too did not have any seating arrangement.
Sitting cross legged with unpolished shoes on often propelled a change of posture. Due to backache, it could not carry me through for long. Right shoe was removed therefore first to be followed by socks. Soon the left leg too was going to be bereft of shoe. But good sense prevailed at the nick of time. My socks, being dirty and somewhat torn, were neither presentable nor suited to the alien, ‘sophisticated’ environment.
A Brush With Yoga
I could carry on for almost one and a half hours. No Deviation, no other thought except the ones provoked by the magazines in my lap………., very close to the suspected Glaucoma affected right eye. And it was nothing but on my favorite hobbies- yoga & photography. I settle first for getting engrossed in a ‘phoren’ mag on the time tested practice of ancient India. It was interesting if not amusing to pick up a perspective about facial yoga. Something one does,rather daily, without perhaps becoming familiar with the nomenclature. Following lines are worth recalling-“Without moving head look to left as far as possible for 5 seconds. Repeat  by looking towards right, upwards and downwards. Take note of the sensation of the tension in the muscles that move the eyeballs. Now close eyes and relax. Rub your palms together till they get warm and then gently place them over eyes to absorb the heat. Repeat a few times.”
Digital Photography
Next the ‘Digital photographer’ gave useful insights into looking at my hobby afresh and creating contrasts by showing old and new technologies together in a single frame, joys and sorrows of ‘capturing’ at dawn and dusk, water, sand & landscape photography, snow shots, attempting memorable & authentic newborn portraits etc. Following tips were futuristic- (a) Photoshop processing helps- processed from raw, an image can have greater contrast and be more tonally interesting,(b) sometimes one can have enough options while shooting…….. that you don’t need to do any physical alterations afterwards and (c) some colour correction and a bit of sharpening helps to bring out detail in an object, be it rock or a building.
What really impressed and  mattered to me, however, were the five highlighted merits of black &white photography:(i) it has a  timeless look, hard to conjure in color,(ii) it is ideal when shooting a series of images,(iii) by removing the color from the equation, black & white simplifies a scene, de cluttering it almost instantly,(iv)it enables you to emphasise shape, form & texture and (v) this format means that one can deal nicely with tricky and mixed lighting conditions, such as, inside a building, a temple or a church with a relative ease.
I haven’t finished as yet. For, the punchline that appealed to my inner self was- “I enjoy company, talking to people, sharing passions & creativity. When I am behind a camera, that’s me”.(something within, perhaps, finds expression).
Two Twenty PM
Once out of bounds of the air-conditioned ‘conditions’ of the BCL,I am destined to have a feel of the soothing air of October on a Tuesday, a day synonymous with Lord Hanuman. Also having read about photography, indulging into instant photography was going to be a natural corollary. A beginning was made with a close-up of tempting fried rice and tasty mixed vegetables (cooked & packed with meticulous care by Jaya) in the backdrop of the historic Jantar Mantar and the modern NDMC building. Which one leaves an impression, is anybody’s guess. Having a grub in the open air for a change, had its own advantages. One could delete and edit snaps, look back, contemplate, plan afresh.
Slow and Steady Wins The Race
Post-lunch, I relish taking a relaxed stroll on a surprisingly deserted but green avenue, to my next tentative destination. I resort purposely to this time consuming venture. I have no intention to add my bit to the pollution level of the capital by getting into a bus or a three wheeler. After all, it is slow and steady that should aspire to win the race in today’s fast global village.



One Hour in China


On 6th July 2006 all roads led to Nathula in East Sikkim, located at a commanding height of 14,469 ft. Nowhere in World one covers 9000 ft. by a vehicle in 2.5 hours criss-crossing a ravishing Alpine scenario.

2. On this red letter day, border trade with China was going to be resumed after a gap of 44 years. This is only the third mountain pass of this nature opening into China. Other two being, Shipkila in Himachal Pradesh and Lipulekh in Uttarakhand.

3. For the world in general and India in particular, the occasion was significant from strictly commercial parameters. For the people of Sikkim, especially those of Tibetan origin and very few survivors of the erstwhile trading communities having acquaintances across the border, it meant restoration of old ethnic ties, if not regular people to people contact.

4. Tremendous ground work had to be undertaken at the official levels in both the countries. Positive and negative lists were debated at length. These involved hectic diplomatic parleys, consultations with the representatives of trade and industries on the one hand and the border protection forces and Army, on the other. An MOU for the purpose was signed earlier between the two countries at Beijing. But turning the event into actual reality took quite some time.

5. Though India was very eager to move one or two steps forward, China too would pretend to take some semblance of the confidence building measures. According to the veteran China watchers and followers, she could not be trusted keeping in view the circumstances leading to 1962 war and the acute embarrassment caused to the then Foreign Minister Sri A.B. Vajpayee in 1978 when its troops  attacked Vietnam without any provocation in the midst of his state visit. Less said is better about the regular incursions by the Chinese Army through Arunachal, H.P. and J & K borders.

6. In the wake of publicized improvement and upgradation of road and related infrastructure along the trade route on the China side, a high level Study Group was sent by New Delhi to Nathula through Beijing, Lhasa and Renqinggang to make an assessment and take stock of the prevailing situation. Its entry into India through Nathula a few months ahead of the D.Day was eagerly awaited apart from being widely reported. It also led to tremendous interest and speculation in the International media. If one recalls correctly, there was no official comment whatsoever from the USA.

7. In order to see and feel the historic event from close angles, Babs began his journey cautiously from Gangtok, to be precise at 3.30 AM. There were too many stops and barriers on the way as the traffic bereft of tourists and visitors was pretty heavy. Unlike on regular days, there were no takers for Kyongnasla sanctuary or Tsomgo Lake. No photo opportunities were, therefore, being availed of at truly scenic locations all along.

8. The security was tightest at Sherathang (13,300 ft.), wherein 10 Army barracks had been temporarily converted into a Trading Mart to facilitate the Chinese traders. Thick, high fence at a rapid pace had come up together with widening of roads and strengthening of breast walls, culverts and causeways. Both valley and hill sides, right upto Nathula looked different. The Manju Lake with its clean water was decked up for the occasion, while the Sherathang Lake had hardly anything worthwhile to offer owing to less discharge of water.

9. The last 4 Kilometers having traces of melting snow had become bumpy and slushy. While taking a slow climb in a sturdy green Bolero, Babs did not miss the panoramic views of twin semi-frozen lakes on the right as also the Kupup lake, 5 to 6 kms. away. He could too have a ‘Darshan’ of Baba Harbhajan from a distance. Day was crystal clear. Sky was azure blue. A good setting indeed for taking snaps after falling in love with nature.


10. From the make shift parking lot to the highest conference hall in the world, climb was longer than expected. Due to breathing problem, short, careful steps were to be taken. Those on duty, however, were advised to take a detour to another new spot created or mutually agreed upon between the two countries. The view of China was as usual awesome and breathtaking. Their short statured soldiers in green uniform were more courteous than the normal days. For a change, they were not asking for cigarettes or Rs. 100/- currency notes. The usual ‘plucking’ of Indian infants by them as a matter of friendly gesture, was also not to be seen.

11. The widened portion of road with freshly cemented breast and retention walls right inside the Chinese territory truly impressed. The colorful prayer flags on both sides looked like jewels in the crown. The tall Jawans of ITBP in their colorful headgear and impressive turnout simply outclassed their Chinese counterparts. The Indian troops, as such, had every reason to be happy, having defeated the Chinese in a volleyball match recently at Nathula.




12. Colorful tents had been erected on both sides to seat a selected batch of traders, officials, politicians, Panchayat members and the mediamen. The correspondents of Reuter, A.P., A.F.P, B.B.C, Star T.V., NDTV, Aaj Tak, Zee, D.D. and major Indian newspapers, all thronged the place. Babs together with his assistants was often pushed into the Chinese territory by the ruckus perpetrated by the media, much ahead of the appointed time of 10 AM.

13. Giggling, fair skinned and charming Chinese teenagers were looking very colorful in their woven attire and indigenous crafts. In red colored long ‘Khadas’, beautifully arranged on large trays, one could see a tinge of their cultural heritage and vibrant customs. A smart woman Interpreter was adding the midas touch by her timely commentaries. They were widely and regularly photographed till official reopening materialized. 

14. Sri Pawan Chamling, the C.M. of Sikkim and the Governor of Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) did the honours from their respective sides by cutting the ribbons. It was cheered and hailed by the present thousand odd spectators, who for a moment, forgot or ignored the chilly weather. As  such, exchange of pleasantries in an atmosphere of bonhomie and bright sun had ensured sufficient warmth on the eve of historic reopening. The bands played soothing melodies accompanied by instant claps for 5-10 minutes, cutting across boundaries.

15. The Governor of TAR was politely led by the C.M., Sikkim into the Sikkim side of India first. He was offered a long white colored ‘Khada’, Temi tea and mouth watering ethnic snacks. Years of bitterness and distances seem to have disappeared. Upon spending a good half an hour, he reciprocated by holding the hands of the C.M. and took him swiftly into the Chinese side. A group of 30 to 40 persons from the bureaucracy, Panchayat, press and Army accompanied. Scene was same, so was the color of soil. Sky and cloud patterns were no different, nor were the make of barracks. Yet it was a different country. For Babs, it was an unusual feeling and experience to get physical access to this part.




16. The wounds of 1962 war were temporarily forgotten. The bonhomie created by the cheering crowd, an official band of the Chinese Army in green uniform and local band men in traditional orange attire, were all pervasive. The Chinese and the Tibetans were friendly, smiling and forthcoming. Babs noticed a newly made check post ahead, presumably for the Indian traders and a few bunkers on the differing heights. The Chinese troops did not prevent him from taking memorable photos.

17. The Chinese Ambassador to India was taking immense pride in explaining things to a select Indian gathering, allowed knowingly to ‘violate’ normal diplomatic restrictions. Official procedure was set aside for a while to ensure people to people contact of a different kind, even though it was destined to last less than an hour.



18. When Sun moved further up, clouds began hovering in this high wind region. Babs could not see any human habitation or the wide winding roads leading to the trade mart of Renqinggang (10 kms.). Nor the rugged mountain peaks and deep river valleys were visible. Nonetheless, he had brief and good memories of the historic Yatung in Chumbi valley to carry.

19. While the retreat for a few Indians without passport and visa became imminent, the building up of enthusiasm on the part of 50 odd Indian traders led by Sri Motilal Lakhotia (who still had a bank account in China) of Tashi Delek was simply unexplainable. Only they could feel and measure it. After all, they were waiting for this momentous occasion for years (during June-September,29 items from India & 15 from China were to be traded). Standing on a red carpet at the I.B.,they were determined to herald a new chapter of hope for the betterment of relations between the two countries.




20. Babs, having known some of them personally, shook hands and wished them all the best. Back to the Indian side, the warm tea and Sikkimese snacks in the Army mess no longer interested him. While descending the heights on way to his abode in Gangtok, he had one of the greatest job satisfactions for having contributed his bit for this remarkable day. He was no longer heading the nodal Department, supposed to handle the border trade, but he felt and rightly so, he could still work hard for fine tuning tourism promotion prospects of this unusually enchanting region. Lhasa was only 545 kms. away from Nathula and the physical distance to Mansarovar Lake was much shorter through this axis than the one through Uttarakhand. In a nutshell, there was a lot more to ponder over and explore in regard to religious and adventure tourism. The public servant in him was not dormant as yet. It was alive and kicking.