Did you ever find yourself so irresistibly drawn to a place so much that you wanted to live there forever?
I was born in a small town surrounded by hills and have lived there for most of my life before moving to the plains. I feel instantly at home when I am in the hills. Though I might live in the plains for work, I will ultimately return to a life in the hills.
Of the few mountainous terrains I’ve visited in my adulthood, each had a distinct impression on me. Meghalaya’s ethereal beauty and it’s women dominated societies inspired my first book that led me in to blogging and subsequently got me a job with a newspaper while I was a student.
Araku in the Eastern Ghats gave me first hand knowledge of the organisation of tribal societies, their way of life, the seclusion, the feeling of overwhelming awe at the incredible and haunting deep caves and mysterious waterfalls and exploring a coffee plantation.
About a couple of years ago, right in the middle of my university days with exams looming over my head, we decided to travel to Sikkim without any prior reservations.
We got train tickets and hopped on an SUV when we reached the northern fringes of Bengal to travel in to the Himalayan foothills.
(Tip if you are planning to visit: The roadway is pretty risky. Choose your time of travel well in advance. If travelling in summer, make sure you do not get caught in the pre-monsoons.If possible, hire a well recommended and experienced driver for your SUV if you are not well versed with driving on such terrains. Luckily, we had a great guy driving us to Sikkim and we had a horrible experience while returning. We spent the entire time at the edge of our seats, holding on to an inch of our lives gaping in horror as we saw the steepness of the road and an occasional wreckage down below. The driver acted as if it was the smoothest joy ride ever.)
We had been graciously invited to stay at the main suite at the Power grid guesthouse all pre-arranged by my dad’s brother in law on a very short notice. The view was spectacular. I woke up each morning on my crisp white sheets on the giant bed and gazed at the heavy clouds looming over the hill right outside the huge, clear glass window. I walked over the warm and gleaming wooden floors to the balcony to get a view of the tiny hamlets on the hill and their terraced farms. An occasional vehicle drove up slowly on the winding lanes. Just below me, were the electrical transformers of the substation.
That was it. I decided it was the place I wanted to live for the rest of my life. The town was amazing and well organised. The pre monsoons had set in so we couldn’t enjoy as much as we would have loved to.The weather was amazing, light, crisp and non corrosive ; completely unlike the one I’ve been used to for the past several years that I have lived in Calcutta.
I had seen a couple of industries related to my field of work while we were on our way. Even though I knew it was not an ideal choice in terms of career and job prospects, I wanted to move there and live my ideal writer’s life!
So, naturally, I inquired about it and received the following information from a local and I am going to follow it up with the entire analysis.
- Turns out if you are not a resident there, you cannot buy property. Only solution to your owning a farm or any piece of real estate as an outsider is when someone, who’s local, gifts it to you.
- The place is strategically located in the Himalayas. If India loses this piece of land to China, it loses a defense structure and the plains of Bengal are directly exposed. So to prevent people from going OVER TO THE OTHER SIDE, the government gives them land, building material, farming equipment, electricity and other utilities all for no charge. How does the government raise this money? Partly, by handing out liquor licences. There were plenty of small shops selling liquor in every street, something I had never come across before. Then there were theme parks and casinos. But that’s something you don’t have to participate in if you don’t want to.
- You can have your ideal life there only if you are a local.
As you can imagine, I returned with a heavy heart and dashed hope of living my quiet, country life surround by my terraced farms (for now 😉 ) but wrote my university exams refreshed and rejuvenated.
©2013-2015, The Idea Bucket. Written by Ananya. All content and pictures used in the post are not to be re-published without permission.