As the sun slowly sinks behind the mountains, my favourite part of the day starts. In Darjeeling, daylight gets wrapped up by 4:30 in the evening. The colour palette changes from the bright to the subdued and muted. The green, brown, white, yellow, red...... all slowly change to different shades of grey, black, dark and light blue.
Sitting in the Hawaghar at Second Chance, lost in the laptop, you may not even realise that the day has tiptoed out. The bright screen of the laptop starts attracting insects. Irritated you decide to look up. The soft yellow lights of the house have come on. They invite you inside.
It is time to move into the drawing room where you are welcomed by a bright crackling fire. Has the sun set or has it risen in the fireplace of my house? Stare into the fire as it hypnotizes you and images of the past, present and the future flit through you. The glow outside slowly spreads inside and lulls you into forgetting the difficulties of the day.
After dinner, is the time to stretch your legs and take a walk outside. The full moon here does not have to compete with the light pollution in cities. It looks like the floodlight that you may have seen in cricket stadiums. Everything is bathed silver. You may feel like you are the first person or the last person on this pristine earth. As a child I remember having Khir which was left out on the Sharad Purnima night so that it could imbibe the mystique of the moon.
On nights when the moon is relaxing and waning, the stage is taken over by the stars. The night sky has many eyes. They watch you and watch out for you. If you can read their messages, they direct and guide you. Sometimes you can see only a few because of the clouds. On clear winter nights you can pick out many constellations and planets. Which planet were you born under?
The stars in the sky also come down to tease you. These are the fireflies flitting around where you least expect them. The tiny lanterns that they carry can be seen only when there is total darkness. Beware! These fairy lights are slowly trapping you into enchantment. Such is the magic of Selim Hill, slowly and surely you become a part of Darjeeling.
Suddenly, you may be startled by a flash of light. That is the Chowkidar making his rounds and checking on you. He is the one who you have to cajole to get your ghost stories. He can tell you about the owl and its perch. He can tell you about the Selim Hill leopard that does its rounds in these parts.
If you look down from the Hawaghar at Second Chance House, you see the expanse of the valley below and the twinkling lights of the villages and more robust ones of Siliguri and Bagdogra Airport. Imagine you are in an airplane. When you look out of the window, the sight you see flying over Siliguri is what you see sitting at Second Chance, a house among the clouds of Selim Hill.
Yet, the most fascinating slice of light comes as a magnificent flash across the sky. Accompanied by Dorje (thunder), it shakes you out of your stupor. The flash of lightning is a reminder of the strength and potential of Selim Hill and the Land of Thunder - Dorje Ling.
Write to me at Editor@Dorjeteas