It has been crippling to not be writing as often as I should be during the past week. A mere one week feels like a lifetime. Calling this my blog has now become an understatement, it is my baby, my heartchild (as opposed to a brainchild :D) And the privilege of not giving my readers yet another slice of Sikkim isn't helping my conscience much too. So here goes the third part, after all that much needed ado.
Ah, yes Okhrey!!! Let me pause here. Guess what, am just taking a moment to revisit the beauty so that I can paint an accurate picture. Imagine this – A little asphalted road winding through a hill dotted with rhododendron blooms, a quaint village with barely 10 households, a steep hill adjacent to the village, atop which is perched a little school. Throw in some plants and cute people here and there and that completes the picture. That’s exactly what Okhrey is. It is a tiny sleepy hamlet in some unimaginably remote corner of India; so remote that you cannot even find it in the Sikkim map! A cartographer not knowing it doesn’t make it any less beautiful – it is in fact as tranquil as it can get, yet in the realm of civilization.
Most people here belong to the Sherpa community; yes the very same community to which Tenzing Norgay belonged. They are not only strongly built but also very endearing! Hospitality runs through their veins and arteries I guess. The Sherpa lodge, run by the Sherpa brothers (well, every person is a Sherpa here, so I don’t really remember their first names and they are a little too tongue-twisting to remember too) is a very basic yet cozy place to stay in Okhrey. After a cup of chai, we headed to the hilltop boarding school. The teachers and students were equally receptive to the idea of talking to tourists. Also the fact that it was way past school closing hours helped, as they were all in a laid-back mood. The emphasis that the Sikkimese lay on education is unlike any other part of India. After almost an hour of an engaging conversation with one of the teachers, we decided to head back to the lodge. That was something struck me. I decided to do an impromptu story narrating performance. The children initially looked quite annoyed as I was actually eating into their daily TV time! But a handful of curious ones insisted I tell them the story. So, what started off as a simple narration for a bunch of kids soon grew into a proper performance with a decent sized audience. By the time I finished my story, almost the entire lot was around me. One of the most fulfilling moments in the recent times!!
We returned to the lodge after shopping in the only souvenir shop of the town adjacent to our complex. Oh man, that night was quite cold. At 8000 feet above MSL, we could sense a sharp dip in temperature. Huddled under our blankets, we dozed off, dreaming about the promises that the day next held for us.
|The very cozy room at Okhrey|
|The little village|
|A rhododendron bud|
|The lovely children at the residential school|
|He was as hospitable as the people.|
|Okhrey getting ready for the night. The mountains disappear. Literally.|
To be continued...