Mon, Jul 15, 2019

A wedding reception at Tingchim, North Sikkim


I had topped the list of thirty-six successful candidates and joined the District Collectorate, North Sikkim as Confidential Assistant (CA) to District Magistrate(N), at Mangan on 26th June 1998. I took charge of my new/first office from Shri Ashook Bhutia, UDC who, until then, was looking after the work of CA.  As apparent, my association with Shri Ashook is over two decades now and when I got his invitation to the wedding reception of his daughter, I could hardly miss it.  Being Monday I could not miss the office either so decided to head for Tingchim in the latter half of the day after attending office.  By the time I finished files on my table it was already 1.30 PM.  It was a long drive and I asked one of my personal staff Tarun to accompany me. We started at 1.45PM from Gangtok and reached there exactly two hours later at 3.45PM.  I have travelled through that stretch of North Sikkim Highway (NSH) countless number of times before but had never been to that side/part of Tingchim. I found the place beautiful and serene.  As there were many vehicles parked on the roadside, we decided to park our car much below the wedding house and gave an uphill walk for about half a kilometer.
As we walked up the hill, we met other guests who were returning from the reception among whom were my former colleagues and some local gentries of North Sikkim whom I knew from my early days there.  Shri T.N. Kazi was SDM, Chungthang those days who later came to Mangan as SDM. I got transferred to Gangtok in 2000 when he was ADC/M, North.  He retired as Secretary to the Government and it’s always a pleasure to see him. He never fails to address me with his signature, “Yes/Hello Boss…”! He was with few others including members from Samar House, Mangan. Few steps ahead we met Prakash Rawat Sir and Luka Sir, my colleagues during my short stint as a teacher in Government Senior Secondary School, Mangan. I was seeing them after a long time.  Paused for a while to exchange greetings. The road ended in the forecourt of Shri Ashook - the father of the bride.
We were received at the gate by many known faces including Allan Sir. Sonam Wangchuk came near and asked; “Sir, chinnu vayo? (Sir, could you recognize me?)”.  How could I miss my former student? He and his elder brother Karma Tenzing were my tuition students when they were in Class XII.  Whole day I would work as CA to DM (N) and in the morning and evening I would teach them Physics and Chemistry at my rented apartment at Pentok. They were both disciplined and brilliant students. Needless to say, both are doing good in life. Sonam Wangchuk is an Assistant Engineer and Karma Tenzing is an Accountant now. A matter of great pride to a teacher, indeed.  The wedding house was full of known faces whom I had missed all these years and it was great to see all of them and exchange greetings. Chumzela (Chumzey Madam) and I were colleagues at Mangan School during my short stint of few months as a teacher and her sister Phigumla was a good friend right from my CA days in the Collectorate.  It was so good to see both of them along with Chung Kipu Madam and Namgyal Sir of NSA fame. I have known Chung Kipu Madam for over two decades now since the time she was Headmistress, Lingdong Sec. School, Dzongu. Sonam Wangchuk and Karma Tenzing are her sons.  After seeing and blessing the newly wedded couple a gentleman escorted us to the dining hall.  He introduced himself as my junior at school and who was my late younger brother’s classmate. I forgot his name, but he said he was from Namok. Parted with Chumzela and Phigumla with the note that next time I visit my in-laws I shall visit them without fail!  They are not just my colleagues, they are my sisters and good friends as well. Coincidentally, they also happen to be the first cousins of my batch-mate in SFAS, Karma Choppel. After the meal we went to visit the nearby Tingchim Lake, a walking distance from the wedding house.  A beautiful lake revered by the locals; I had only heard about it but never got an opportunity to visit it earlier.  It must have been the work of Department of Tourism and Civil Aviation that an approach footpath to the lake and also the footpath with railing around the lake is constructed.  As it’s a dry season the lake was small, but we were told that in summer the lake and the surrounding footpath are all submerged in water. I could imagine how majestic and magnificent the lake would look then. A summer trip to the lake is on my agenda now.   
As we were taking leave, I met Sonam, another former tuition student and the son of Shri Ugen Gyurmick, my the then landlord at Pentok (Mangan).  He is an Advocate now and a father of a son.
Time flies, it really does!
Ashook Bao came near and whispered; “Sir, I had not expected that you would come, I am so happy. Thank you for coming.” “How could I not come to the wedding of your daughter? Thank you for remembering me. Thank you for the invitation...” I managed to say.  It was a wonderful two hour spent with lovely people accompanied by nostalgia.
The walk down the hill to the car was a pleasant one.  I was sharing my North Sikkim days spent twenty years ago with my staff Tarun.  It was dusk when we headed back home.  Dilip was waiting in the car. Luckily, he had his lunch before we started from Gangtok else he would have starved waiting for us alone in the car! Journey back home was full of old memories as every turn of the road reminded me of my earlier journeys through it. I could strongly feel that I have, without a doubt, an emotional connection with North Sikkim.


Area: 7096 Sq Km
Altitude: 5,840 ft
Population: 6.10 Lakhs
Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 ft. to over 28,509 ft above sea level
Summer: Max- 21°C ; Min – 13°C
Winter: Max -13°C ; Min – 0.48°C
Rainfall: 325 cm per annum
Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi