No Path In Darjeeling Is Straight – Parimal Bhattacharya


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For a few years in the early 1990s – when the embers of a violent agitation for Gorkhaland were slowly dying down – Parimal Bhattacharya taught at the Government College in Darjeeling. No Path in Darjeeling Is Straight is a memoir of his time in the iconic town, and one of the finest works of Indian non-fiction in recent years.

As Parimal tramped its roads and winding footpaths, Darjeeling slowly grew on him. He sought out its history: a land of incomparable beauty originally inhabited by the Lepchas and other tribes; the British who took it for themselves in the mid-1800s so they could remember home; the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway – once a vital artery, now a quaint toy train; and the vast tea gardens with which the British replaced verdant forests to produce the fabled Orange Pekoe. And in the enmeshed lives of the small town’s inhabitants, Parimal discovered a richly cosmopolitan society which endured even under threat from cynical politics and haphazard urbanization.

Written with empathy, and in shimmering prose, No Path in Darjeeling Is Straight effortlessly merges travel, history, literature, memory, politics, and the pleasures of ennui into an unforgettable portrait of a place and its people.


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