Kanchenjunga Walk

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The clouds, they floated up

            so amazingly slow:

They wrapped the pine trees

            in their course;

The sun gleamed

            through thickset groves

or was it the orange glow

            of sizzling charcoal?

 

Amidst steep avenues

            as I leisurely strolled:

the Kanchenjunga’s tips

            white in the sunlight shone;

And though I felt the chill

            for long in my bones –

it was at a glimpse of her face

            I decidedly froze.

 

Squatting on the pavement

            an iron brazier she fanned –

over which several cobs of corn baked;

            Her fair face now a beet-red

glistened in its warm haze –

            or was it the glaze of self-assuredness

she brazenly emanated?

            It was as if a halo over her she wore –

in acceptance of her fight, of optimism.

 

As I walked towards her

            drawn by her pretty warm smile –

I noticed over the wine-red lips

            her sparkling brown eyes;

Then I viewed the thick red vermillion

            on the parting of her head:

as in his school-uniform her little boy

            at me playfully grimaced.

 

Even as I waited

            for my ear of corn to roast

another bright face like the moon

            rising over the hill came along:

She smiled at the squatting corn-woman –

            both their eyes crinkling ravine deep;

The latter’s silver hair shone

            brighter than the mountain peaks.

 

This approaching woman

            was bent low to retain her balance

as strapped from her head

            behind her, a band of coir rope tarried:

It held two black stroller suitcases

            also a white tote baggage,

And behind her mountainous bulk

            strode to a hill-hotel a young frisky couple.

 

In awed compassion I then rambled along

            munching kernels of corn cob,

When through thick fog what do I see –

            With jute basket’s hung behind them on coir ropes

two women clambering up towards me:

            Both tea-pluckers, chatted animatedly

about their tough day’s work,

            of abusive, rigid supervisors they reckoned.

 

A third grill-canopied hangout I came atop

            after crossing two similar ones  

on the L-shaped Kanchenjunga-view walk:

            The youth here on their dates congregate

over tea, coffee, corn, peanuts, not much else –

            But dressed as if on the ramp at a fashion show –

livening the often foggy Darjeeling landscape

            with a fashion-sense par excellence.

 

As I walk on crunching roasted peanuts now –

            the fog shrouds me, or is it clouds?

Shivering in the chill I dash for shelter

            under the tin stall of  a woollen garments seller:

She smiles, bids me to sit, her face is so bright –

            not only from makeup, it’s amber of her warm heart.

Thunder rumbles, as large drops of rain descend:

            I’m sheathed in awe – of poise, resilience of hill people.

 

 

(PS: The pictures here, are merely illustrative, though I’ve clicked them myself.)

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