Saturday, January 15, 2011


Since the train left about 5 hours late, by the time we reached NJP, we were about 7 hours late and we had missed the last military escorted convey towards Sikkim. Since the Darjeeling and Kalimpong are on strike, the GJP has also blocked some parts of the Highway to Sikkim which passes through the Gorkhaland areas, so it was not safe to travel during the day through that highway. So we were not able to go to Ravangla on the 14th as planned and had to stay in Sailigura for the night. While on the Train, TNT la was able to contact Dorjee la, a very old acquaintance of his whom he had not seen in 35 years. And as such, we were able to find shelter as well as food for the night.

(TNT, Kelsang la and Dorjee at the site of the Kalachakra in Sailuguri)
Trying to find a car to go to Sikkim for the next morning was such a hurdle as most of the cabs in Silliguri had WB license plates and as such were too scared to travel on the highway to Sikkim for fear of random harassment. We did manage to find a car willing to drive us up there but it had to come all the way from Sikkim to do that.
We left Sailuguri around 8 in the morning and the driver told us that if we travel early in the morning, we should be fine without the Army Escort, so we took off on the highway towards Sikkim. The national highway which is the only link Sikkim has to the rest of India was almost empty and to add to the silence, it was full of early morning mist.
The journey itself was uneventful after all the suspense; just a couple of trees on the side of the highway which I think were earlier put on the highway to block traffic. So we reached Gangtok around 12 noon and TNT la was welcomed by the local heads of different groups.

(TNT la welcomed at the Denzong Regency by the people of Gangtok)
We were put in one of the most beautiful hotel in all of Gangtok, the Denzong Regency by a very old school friend of Tenzin Namgyal Tethong la. After lunch, the regional TYC chapter along with individual supporters had arranged a discussion with local people at 2pm.

(TNT la speaks at Cholkha Sum Hall in Gangtok)
As you can see through the pictures, it was very well attended considering the fact that we had to make so many changes to the dates and for this much number of people to actually attend was a huge boost for the campaign Trail. Lobsang Dorjee la of Gangtok had arranged for a projector and showed the VOA Kunleng Interview before the talk of TNT la and I believe that gave the attendees some information about TNT la’s experience and vision for the future.
The questions asked the people of Gangtok were very well thought out ranging from the present trends in the Education Policy to the future of the Dialogue between the representatives of His Holiness and the Chinese Government. A lot of questions were very well thought out and made me realize that Tibetans in Exile everywhere are taking a keen interest in the democratic process and participating in numbers.

(TNT la with N.K. Pradhan, Minister for Human Resource Development, Sikkim)
In the evening the friends of TNT, Gangtok arranged a Dinner reception where the Chief Guest was the Honourable Minister for Human Resource Development of the Government of Sikkim, N.K. Pradhan who was a school mate of TNT la and graced the occasion with his presence. Also present were all the heads of the organization such as TYC, TWA, Dotoe Cholka, Dome Cholka and Utsang Cholka and some other prominent local Sikkimese. This was a huge success as TNT la was able to talk to everyone present individually and since the occasion was informal, the local heads were able to know TNT la as a person too. The key organizer for this event was Kelsang Chokteng la of Science meets Dharma and was assited by Karma Youngyal la and Pema Lakar of Sikkim.

(TNT la speaking with the heads of the local Tibetan Organizations and the Youth)