Evening at Zambezi River, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, May 2015
and so does everything around... the situation, the people, the perspective, the needs.... and we too change.... the wise and courageous seek change.. because only change is constant!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

178. Innocent

" Wai Wai? or Momo? What would you prefer, Madam? " my colleague asked me.

Momo, I know. I like Momo. After coming to Delhi I have been consuming them regularly. However at that moment  I did not want Momo only because yesterday afternoon and yesterday evening I had already tested Momo in this part of the county. So, I asked what is Wai Wai? And realized that they are kind of noodles.

I was in the village Sikkp in Namchi area of (South Sikkim district) in Sikkim. My local colleagues were with me. In the morning I had climbed up and down the hills in village Wok and had used lot more calories, so I was hungry. But here there were only two options - Wai Wai and Momo.

I decided to have Wai Wai and it was filling. But my colleagues were still hungry and were planning to order Momo and Soup. Instead of waiting for them to finish their food, I decided to use this time to walk around and take some pictures. Because of my presence my colleagues were not able to freely converse in Nepali so they gladly accepted my plan.

I came outside and noticed the beautiful river flowing to my left. While going to Wok village I had asked about the river and was told that the name of the river is Rangeet (which literally means colorful or colored). This is a tributary of Teesta river - the lifeline of Sikkim. About Teesta river, there is a lot to tell - but not today. I was planning to climb down to the river and enter into the water - just stand in the water for few minutes. But then I realized that the water was too deep and was moving very fast. I also realized that there was no path to climb down and that during the last three days I have not seen anybody near the waters. The river is flowing with flurry - so better to keep away from her!

To my left there was a bridge. In Sikkim one comes across these bridges very often. I can imagine that when these bridges were not built, how the villages would remain cut off from the rest of the world for days. These bridges appear to be old and one wonders whether they are strong enough! But these bridges are very strong. They play a major role in connecting villages and in turn connecting people with each other. They carry the burden of the vehicles and make living of people a little less hazardous during monsoon and winter. 
I was adjusting my  camera when I saw both of them chatting together. They were standing in the middle of the bridge in a relaxed manner. Initially they were little worried about the camera in my hands. However, I believe that was the reason they wanted to interact with me. They started staring at me. I leisurely walked towards them. That increased their curiosity. I could understand that both of them were in two minds - whether to smile at me or not. I took the initiative and smiled.

"Can I take your photograph?" I asked in Hindi. One of them smiled signaling me his permission and was immediately ready to pose. The other was bit hesitant though. "Can't you speak Nepali?" he asked me expressing his distrust. I said, "No, I can't." He started thinking on my response. But the first one did not want to lose the opportunity to get photographed. He just made his friend quiet.

I took a photograph and showed it to them. Both of them were delighted.
"Are you alone?" one of them asked.
"No, I am not alone. My colleagues taking lunch, I finished with it and so came outside to take some pictures," I explained. 

"Why are you taking food in the hotel? Is your home here?" the first one asked again.
"No, my home is not here," I answered.
"Then where is it?" another question.
"It is in Delhi," I inform.
"Oh! That is the reason you cannot speak Nepali", the first boy who was still doubting me seemed to be little convinced. 

"Where have you come? To whom did you meet?" he asked.
I indicated the office where I had been.
"Ok, I know that office. You met the officer there?," another question.
"Yes," I answered without explaining more.
"Where will you go now?" one more question.
"Namachi", I answered again.
"Which car is yours? The Jeep or the White one behind?" he asked. I was impressed with his observation power. I answered that too.

Then I decided to ask few questions to them. Though the children looked very young, they were studying in fifth class. We had an interesting conversation about their school, Nepali language, mid day meal in the school, their teachers, hostel and the students in the hostel ...

"What are you doing here?" I asked.
"Watching the water level" both of them answered together. 

Then there was another round of conversation- this time about the river. The name of the river is Rangeet, there is a dam on the other side, the water level increases during day and reduces in the night because it rains more in the night. They can swim but nobody swims in the river during rainy season.

I asked about fish. One of them explained, "There are no fish now. Like flowers they too are seasonal. This is not the season for fish..." he was patiently trying to explain. 

Suddenly they shouted at me, "Run fast. Your car is leaving. It will go without you..." They were able to see the car though I was not. I knew that the car won't leave me but I was touched by the concern the kids expressed about me.

"The car will pick me up. It will pass this bridge, won't it?" I tried to assure the boys.
"Namachi is not in this direction. It is on the other road...." the kids almost pushed me towards the car.

In the cities we are taught to act with purpose, taught 'not to befriend strangers'; taught to guard our privacy; in short we are taught to distrust people around us. Of course I agree that the changing situation has provided  a solid context to such behavior and attitude. 

However these kids talked to me for half an hour, they showed trust in me, they had a concern for me, they understood my limitations - I am touched by their action, 

Whenever I will remember the roaring waters of Rangeet, the green Himalayan range I will also remember this innocent conversation with these two young boys. 



  1. I come from Himachal and I felt like you were having a conversation with boys from my village, those who are uncorrupted like city kids. I'm feeling home sick now.

    They are a sure thing to remember...:)

  2. Saru, the innocence is very similar everywhere. One needs to approach kids positively and the conversation always enriches us.

  3. The innocence of childhood is definitely sweet, but how many would be talking with a good nature like you aativas? Many strangers the kids could meet are pure symbols of vice! But I agree, when we get a chance we should have a word with these guys...Enriching experience indeed!

  4. very nice talk with the children-innocent but very smart.Though you were stranger to them they were very responsive.Photos are amazing full of natures beauty. nutan.

  5. Jaishreejee, your concern about strangers talking to kids is well understood. We should take care of kids - and at the same time we as an adult also should not miss such opportunities to have the glimpses of innocence around.

  6. Nutan, Sikkim is a land of beauty. I guess people's minds to expand when there is lot of open space and serenity around!

  7. Hi Aativas, you are one of my fav writers! SO.. please collect your blog award at my blog!

    Do stop by my blog! Kappu

  8. Thanks Kaapu for remembering me :-)


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