A young and energetic boy of about 25 from the hilly terrain, Kartabya Pradhan, had been waiting for me for the past three hours in Mal railway junction station. Kanchankanya Express, the train I was travelling in, had been running unusually late due to lack of visibility in the foggy weather. I boarded the train at Sealdah and planned to go to a famous spot of the Dooars named Samsing. It was not exactly Samsing but a shanty village named lower Ghumtigaon which is some distance below Samsing where we intended to camp for the next few days in the house of Kartabya Pradhan. Kartabya Pradhan’s father has been making all the arrangements for fooding and lodging for the touring guests in their small house for the past twenty years. This, in simple language, is what we call “homestay”. This was my first visit to the Kalimpong District, earstwhile Darjeeling, after there started unrests in the hill with fresh deamands for a separate Gorkhaland.
With the crystal clear sky, curvy and smooth upper surfaces of the tea plants, cool breeze and with a lot of tiredness out of the long journey we arrived at the house of Kartabya and then the day has already given in to the impending mellow afternoon. Their house is on the downward slope of the hill. On the eastern side is the Murti river. When I stand in the wide second floor verandah the river can be seen to flow in a serpentine path and is seen to go to obscurity in the faraway horizon. When we move forward there is the Kumai hill on the left. I can see the outline of the tea garden which has started at the bank of the river and has extended upto the slopes of the hills.