Darjeeling Diaries: Of Walks & Talks, Turns & Ferns
Should I ‘Walk the Talk’ or ‘Talk the Walk’? The lazy me opted for ‘Couch Comfort’ and claimed it was too difficult to do either. My life in Selim Hill Tea Estate, where Dorje Teas is based out of, has completely pushed me out of this comfort zone. The Darjeeling Hills have many motorable roads etched into them which are picturesque and comfortable. The famous Hillcart Road snakes up through the mountain, with the Toy Train tracks on one side, and beautiful vistas and cloudy horizons on the other. Yet, if you really want to get intimate with the hills, you must walk to reach the secret, secluded spots. Armed with an umbrella to combat weather and other elements of nature, I learnt once again, the art of walking, after having moved from Calcutta to Selim Hill. The Hills seem to beckon me skywards.
Selim Hill has spotty internet, so it is not possible to converse with someone on the phone all the time. A happy relief in these times. For this very reason, these walks are ever more special. There is communication without speaking a word. The most precious are my conversations with myself of what was, is, could have been, should have been......to......building cloud castles and faith bridges. Of course, when you talk to yourself, nature participates whole heartedly. Just as you start indulging in self pity, a cackling hen laughs at you. As you begin despairing at the condition of Darjeeling, the wind rustles through the healthy tea bushes. Nature has its own way of reminding us that we must be hopeful in this journey to revive Selim Hill. Too ambitious I sometimes think to myself ... and yet the setting sun takes your breath away, and reminds us what we are fighting for-- not just a tea making tradition, but a world renowned biodiversity hotspot. As I walk with my sons, with phones kept away, there are complaints to hear, fears to vanquish, reality and idealism to balance and oh so many arguments!
Like the railway lines, like a river, like the Darjeeling weather..... 'No Path in Darjeeling is Straight' (a fantastic book by Parimal Bhattacharya, that I cannot recommend enough). You never know what lies around the corner. It could be a rabbit in a hurry, a carpet of flowers peeping out of dried leaves, a heady perfumed smell of some far-away tree or a group of children racing while you are huffing and puffing. Be wary, this is an enchanted place and there are many optical illusions. What seems faraway could be very near and vice versa. This, my friends, is not curated reality. As I walk along the twists and turns, I sometimes wonder whether I am lost or have I just found myself? Almost as if it has read my thoughts, a fern waves out and encourages me onwards. Onwards towards a Second Chance. A second chance both for our family to make good on our responsibility to Selim Hill, and hopefully a second chance for Darjeeling as a region. That's what made us rename our house to Second Chance as well.
As delicate as sigh, as simple as a dimple, as abundant as sunshine and rain, you cannot miss the beautiful ferns that grow wild on the mountainside of Darjeeling. This gardener is an artist. Many believe ferns are the living proof of fairy folk and other enchanted beings. They say God is in the details...looks like these are details that were added after the trees, fruits, flowers and herbs. Interestingly, in the Victorian era, ferns were used as a covert way to express sexual desires.
Invigorated after my evening walk, as I drink my cup of Dorje Hibiscus Tea, I know I am ready to start typing my new blog.
If you are as fascinated as I am with Selim Hill Tea Garden, you can join our Tea Club, and drop in for a cup of tea whenever you're next in Darjeeling!
Write to me at Editor@Dorjeteas