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Thursday, 29 November 2012

Stuntmen riding cars inside a makeshift cylindrical structure known as the "Wall of Death." The performance is part of Jhiri fair, an annual fair held in Jammu, Jammu and Kashmir.

Channi Anand/Associated Press
Stuntmen riding cars inside a makeshift cylindrical structure known as the “Wall of Death.” The performance is part of Jhiri fair, an annual fair held in Jammu, Jammu and Kashmir.

A year after the creation of the Pangthang Semi Hi-tech Nursery

Nursery malis prepare Bhadrasey seeds for plantation

Dechen Lachungpa
Under the JICA assisted Sikkim Biodiversity Conservation and Forest Management Project a semi hi-tech nursery was created at Pangthang last year. The nursery was created in order to propagate species of wild edible fruit plants that are found growing in forests areas of Sikkim. Certain species of wild edible fruits need care at the time of seedling stage. Species like oaks whose “natural regeneration” is nil has to be raised in the nursery and then transplanted. It is the policy of the Department of Forest Environment and Wildlife Management to have a well balanced forest comprising of 10% fodder species, 30% wild edible fruit species and rest locally available indigenous species. The Department encourages the public to plant trees in their private holdings for which these forest nurseries provide seedlings free of cost to the public for plantation in their private land.

Root trained seedlings in Panthang nursery
In this semi hi-tech nursery the seeds are directly dribbled in special pots called as root trainers. Growing of tree species in these root trainers is indeed a very scientific manner of propagation. The use of root-trainers reduces significantly the use of plastic polybags and moreover it can be re-used over a period of many years. Also, as shown in the photographs the roots of seedlings grown in these root-trainers become highly developed and well trained. Because of the hole at the bottom of the root-trainer, the roots automatically becomes air pruned, coiled and hence the soil is well bundled by the roots. At time of plantation the “ball of earth” that should necessarily be maintained for successful plantation is compact and well set in plants grown in root-trainers. Seedlings grown in root trainers can be planted during any season. Moreover the transportation of seedlings grown in these root-trainers is easier and it occupies less space in comparison to seedlings grown in poly bags. This type of propagation of seedlings is highly advantageous, there is efficient use of manure, soil and for water conservation (volume of soil and manure used in root trainers is far less than in polybags). The quantity and quality of seedlings produced in this small area of polyhouse is far higher that that of the seedlings raised outdoors. Also since the nursery is under cover the man power available in the nursery can be well utilized even at time of unfavourable conditions during monsoons.


NAMCHI, 22 Nov: Preparations at Borong Tsa Chu, the Borong hot spring, located on the banks of river Rangeet under Ravangla Sub Division in South Sikkim are underway full swing to host pilgrims who come to visit this hot-spring for a rejuvenating dip. This hot spring is popular among visitors as it is believed to have strong curative powers and hundreds of visitors come every year to take a dip in it. The arrival of visitors is expected to peak from the end of this month.
President, Organizing Committee Borong Tsa chu, Devilal Sharma, informed that preparations to host the pilgrims are in the final stages. Every year the committee sets up temporary huts for visitors but warm clothes, bedding and utensils have to be brought by the visitors themselves, he informed.
During the two-month season, hundreds of pilgrims come from across the state as well as Bhutan and Nepal, said Mr Sharma and added that this spring has also been a major source of income for the villagers and unemployed youth of Borong.
A team from the South district Zilla Panchayat also visited the location to oversee the ongoing preparations. The was headed by ADC Development, DK Pradhan and he was accompanied by Deputy Secretary, Bandhana Chettri, the newly elected ward panchayat Karma Bhutia and organizing committee member, Chewang Bhutia.
The team visited the site and to make the stay comfortable for visitors an amount of Rs 1 lakh was sanctioned in order to construct a community toilet at the spot.( Source:Sikkim Now)


Source:Sikkim Now
GANGTOK, 23 Nov: The year could not have been better for writers from Sikkim, with three of them finding their way into the national and international publishing scene. Yishey D’s work was featured in a Random House publication, Chetan Raj Shreshta has been signed up by Aleph Book Company [a collaboration between David Davidar and Rupa publications], and finally Prajwal Parajuly who managed to bag an international two-book deal with UK-based Quercus. A formidable sign that Sikkimese writing in English is coming of age.
Prajwal’s debut, ‘The Gurkha’s Daughter’, a collection of short stories is being launched in India on Saturday. The Indian edition is being distributed by Penguin Books India. The book is being released by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, Vinod Rai and renowned author, Namita Gokhale at the India International Centre in New Delhi on 24 November.

Prajwal speaks to NOW! on the launch of his debut book:
How does it feel now that your book is finally being released?
The release wasn’t happening until January of next year, but things changed. The initial plan was to launch the book internationally first and then in India. I had plans of being in New York for Thanksgiving, which I had to abort, but I don’t mind because it’s an exciting time to be in India. Delhi is beautiful in November, people have been very kind and the media very generous.  I am looking forward to the Delhi launch and launches after that. We shall have one at Rachna Books, my favorite place in Gangtok, soon, and I am pumped.

Even before its release, The Gurkha’s Daughter has generated quite a lot of interest among readers, especially online. How do you feel about that?
It’s been nice. Nice and undeserved. At times, all the coverage made me feel guilty. At others, I feigned embarrassment in public and felt smug in private. I claim that I don’t Google myself because I don’t want to see what’s being written about me or the book, but that’s a big, fat lie. I try not to take the sobriquets coming my way too seriously.

What should readers expect from this book? Tell us a little about the stories.
The Gurkha’s Daughter is a collection of simply written stories. I have two stories based in Gangtok, one in Kalimpong, one in Darjeeling, one based on the Bhutanese-refugee situation, one in Kathmandu and one that happens on a road journey between Kathmandu and Birtamod. Some stories entailed weeks of research and “field visits”. Others were all in my head, so it was simply a matter of getting them down.

In present times, short story writing has not been a very popular choice when it comes to publishers or writers. How did the choice of this particular genre for your debut book come about?
I think it came down to choosing the easy way. Writing a novel would have been intimidating. I think a lot of first-time writers dabble with short stories before moving on to novels. I hadn’t really written much fiction before I started my collection of short stories. When I wrote the book, I had absolutely no clue about the short-story market. A good thing because had I known how bad things were, I’d probably have never written the book. Everyone at Oxford told me to write a novel if I had any hope of selling my short-story collection. One would think that the busier people got, the more of short stories they’d read because novels are too long. Interestingly, I found writing the novel a lot easier than I did writing the collection.

And how easy or difficult was it to get a collection of short stories revolving around the Nepali speaking community published?
Writing the short story collection may not have been very easy, but getting it published wasn’t that hard. I got lucky. Once I put together eight stories, we circulated the manuscript among my agent Susan Yearwood’s contacts in London publishing circles. To be in a position to choose was wonderful. We eventually chose Quercus because Jon Riley, the editor in chief, and I immediately connected. He had been editor in chief at Faber before, and I love Faber. He talked about how he worked as an editor, and I talked about how I worked as a writer – it was the perfect fit.

Any particular reason for choosing ‘The Gurkha’s Daughter’ as the title?
Oh, god, there were many titles before that. And they were horrible. Let me make a list. HIMALAYAN SUNSET. Eww. SUNSET IN THE HIMALAYAS. Phew. Then there was WARPED IDENTITIES in the beginning – that one makes me laugh. Jon and I looked at all the stories and thought, “Why not THE GURKHA’S DAUGHTER?” The title was already there – sitting right in front of us. Hunting high and low for something as hackneyed as WARPED IDENTITIES was silly!

Can you tell us something about any future projects that you are working on?
We’ve been approached by an independent film company in the U.K. about adapting one of my stories into a movie. We’ll see how that goes. I have loosely adapated one of my stories into a pathetic screenplay and may work on it a little. I’ve been thinking about the idea of an anthology of stories from the northeast – select a brilliant writer or two from every state and show off our talents to the world! It’s interesting that the northeast has all these English-speaking people, all these English-reading people, all these English-language-loving people but not that many writers. Perhaps the anthology would give some brilliant, if unpublished writers, a national platform? A publishing house has been talking to me about doing a travelogue – a tongue-in-cheek compilation of Facebook notes I wrote while traveling around India with my college roommate. Let this craziness subside, and I shall choose a project.

Finally, how did you manage to get a blurb for your book from Hope Cooke?
This concept of getting blurbs for your debut book is absurd. You approach a writer and beg him or her to endorse your book. I wasn’t going to do that! Or your editor does it for you. I didn’t want my editor to do that. My professors are lovely people and reputed writers, but using them for blurbs felt slightly … exploitative? I’d be uncomfortable saying, ‘Oh, hey, you taught me, so endorse my book, please’. In April, I read Hope’s TIME CHANGE. It’s a fascinating book –  so well written. It’s a shame it hasn’t been published in India. It’d be amazing if someone published the book here. Someone told me the book was banned in India – is that right? I thought it’d make sense for Hope to write the blurb – she was familiar with the region, she’s a writer for whom I have a lot of respect, and she was lovely things to say about my book. I am grateful. Please smuggle TIME CHANGE into the country if you can!

What do you think about the current reading and writing scene in Gangtok?
It has changed, grown so much. Could it have started with THE WEEKEND REVIEW? I think it was in some ways responsible for spawning a number of writers’ careers. I grew up on an overdose of that publication. It was started when I was 13 or 14. Gangtok has some excellent writers. I remember Serah Basnet’s HARES B’NET column. I read and re-read it. And then prank-called her to grill her with questions. Yes, guys my age prank-called girls their age. I called writers! There was Karchoong Diyali who once wrote a hilarious piece about the proposed pedestrianization of MG Marg – something about having to carry his bags and sick grandma to a building in the middle of town had cracked me up no end. Then there was Coco – so irreverent and delightful. Chetan Raj Shrestha’s story A VICTIMISED TRANSFER, which was published in NOW!, was brilliant. He will soon be published – readers should know they are in for a treat. Yishey D., too, had her start with THE WEEKEND REVIEW, didn’t she? She’s now a published writer. Amazing! There was Gakila Phemphu whose piece on new movies leaving little to the imagination was hilarious. TALK SIKKIM is thriving. And Tenzin C. Tashi needs to stop wasting that enviable talent of hers on books on the Raj Bhawan and concentrate on a proper book on Sikkim’s history. God, all that knowledge juxtaposed with all that lyrical dexterity – it’s criminal that she hasn’t seriously worked toward getting published. I recently chanced upon a blog called KALIMPONG CALLING, and there was some excellent writing there. See, we have the talent. And we are reading, thanks to Rachna Books. I read about a library for children that’s opened up at Mist Tree Mountain – excellent stuff. Takstse is doing some wonderful things to encourage reading.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Heritage week begins today

TNN | Nov 19, 2012, 01.42 AM IST

NEW DELHI: With heritage week starting from Monday, Intach Delhi Chapter announced a series of seminars and events that are lined up for whole week in an attempt to spread awareness about the city's rich heritage. With Delhi in the queue for world heritage city tag from Unesco, the events are all aimed at involving as many citizens as possible in the nomination process.

While a theater workshop will be held on Monday, a quiz will be organized on Tuesday to test the awareness of students on Delhi's history. The quiz will be an inter-college/university quiz and the special theme will be Delhi's rich heritage. There will also be a panel discussion — titled 'the socio-economic imperative impact of preserving Delhi's heritage' — on the thousand plus monuments in the city, alongwith an exhibition on the last maharajah of Punjab later in the week.

Films preach 'save heritage' message

TNN | Nov 20, 2012, 03.09 AM IST

.KOLKATA: As you glance through the slides, you will be gripped with a sense of remorse on seeing that priceless heritage structures the city once had were pulled down one after the other to make way for concrete structures.

As you glossed over the slides you were suddenly gripped with a sense of remorse. Priceless heritage structures that we once had were pulled down one after the other to make way for concrete structures.

The slides were shown by Intach, an NGO that works for heritage conservation, as part of a world heritage week programme organised at the Victoria Memorial. Two films on heritage preservation were also screened.

Be it the Bank of Bengal building, the senate building of Calcutta University that gave way to the centenary building, or the original building of Bengal Club - all are lost forever.

"What we need is awareness and activism on the part of the citizens of the city. Otherwise, it would be difficult to preserve our built heritage," said G M Kapur, state convenor of Intach.

The first film was based on the high-profile restoration of The Last Supper by Zoffany, a mammoth painting that the artist gifted to St John's Church. This one of its kind art restoration was done under the guidance of Renate Kant, a restorer from Singapore and had brought a lot of media attention in 2010.

On the other hand, the second film focused on Stefan Norblin, a Polish painter who sought refuge in India during World War II. Norblin's paintings adorned walls of palaces in Morbi, Jodhpur and Mumbai. These were mammoth in size and brought with them a new style to India where you saw Indian characters having prominent European features.

The film called Chitranjali celebrated the art deco style of architecture that was a common feature during the time of Norblin both in palatial India as well as in Poland.

TN to launch clean-up drive at 10 Tamil Nadu heritage sites

TNN | Nov 22, 2012, 04.37 AM IST

CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu tourism will soon take up a cleanliness drive at 10 heritage tourist destinations in the state. The project, to be carried out along with Indian National Trust For Art and Cultural Heritage (Intach), will include maintaining the tourist spots round the year.

The decision was taken at meeting chaired by tourism minister S Gokula Indira on Wednesday. The drive will be carried out at Mamallapuram, Thanjavur Big Temple, Kanyakumari, Rameswaram, Tranquebar, Meenakshi Temple, Srirangam Temple, Tiruvannama-lai Temple, Velankanni, Ooty and Kodaikanal.

"Intach will prepare and submit the action plan within a week. To help implement the plan, a period of one year has been fixed and more sites will be taken up in the future," said a tourism department official.

A five-member committee formed for each site will inspect and implement an action plan for the areas selected. The department also hopes to rope in local self-help groups to ensure cleanliness in and around the buildings.

Five-year pact to save monuments

TNN | Nov 24, 2012, 06.31 AM IST

NEW DELHI: The Delhi government on Friday finally signed a new MoU with Intach Delhi Chapter for conservation and protection of 155 unprotected monuments in the city.

The last MoU had expired over a year ago and included only 95 monuments out of the 250 structures identified in 2008. The new agreement is for five years.

Fifteen monuments that were conserved in Phase I of the agreement are still waiting for the final notification to protect them under Delhi Ancient and Historical Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 2004. These include Badarpur gateways, Gol Gumbad, Darwesh Shah ki Masjid.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

A camel herder arriving with his livestock for the cattle fair, held annually, in the Pushkar town of Rajasthan. 
Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
A camel herder arriving with his livestock for the cattle fair, held annually, in the Pushkar town of Rajasthan