29 July, 2021

Kalimpong Diary

People still sniff with indignation at Nehru’s remark that the town was a “nest of spies”

Kalimpong Diary

Pipe Dreams

I arrived in Kalimpong plan­ning a short halt on my way up to that tourist favourite, the ‘China Gate’ at Nathu La, the Wagah of our northern borders. But something made me stay. The town itself was nothing to look at: like all hill stations it’s a swirl of social, commercial and political energy—and garbage and cement. It feels like democracy and modernity’s revenge on the ‘Colonial Picturesque’ but sometimes I think it’s the other way round. What is unique is its laissez faire water supply system: massed slender pipes, of steel, rubber, and sometimes bamboo, coiling along every roadside and alleyway. They leak and fizz and there are even pipes with funnels to catch the runoff from other pipes. It seems emblematic of Kalimpong’s dystopian entropy. ‘Dysentropy’, I...

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