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How I Met Prakriti

How I Met Prakriti

Prakriti

The author Somashis Gupta was travelling to Darjeeling, when he comes across a picture. In this story he describes how he coincidentally meets the lady, Prakriti, from the picture in person and ends up knowing more about her.

This story could easily be titled as ‘Picture comes alive’. The word ‘picture’ comes from the Latin word pictora and the usage can be both as a noun as well as a verb. In this case however, it is the former. Let me explain.

The Background

I was on board flight AI-721, to Bagdogra. It was for a pleasure trip to Darjeeling. But 10 minutes after departure, pleasure appeared relatively obscure when my neighboring passenger turned out to be Sir Farts-a-lot. The putrid air forced me to request for a change in my seat. The kind airhostess guided me to a place far, far away from that pernicious environment.

My new neighbor was a young journalist. She too was Darjeeling bound, though her purpose was different than mine. She showed me a picture. It was of a lady. The lady was running and there was a caption which read ‘Gorkha 10K’. She informed me of this event, she was assigned to cover for her magazine, which was scheduled in a few days,

Later that day…

It was almost dark when I reached Darjeeling. My reservation at the ‘Windamere’ was done well in advance. This age old property is the jewel in the crown of the queen of hills since ages. I could feel the milieu which gives the feel of the colonial era. In fact the story of the property is enthralling as well.

The story goes back to the year 1939. A group of business personals decided to convert this property to a hotel. One of these business-personal was Mrs. Gertrude who hailed from Windermere region of England. The name ‘Windermere’ was catchy and an immediate choice for the owners. But Mrs. Gertrude felt it would make things all very complicated. Finally they changed the ‘er’ to an ‘a’, and thus ‘Windamere’ was born.

I woke up the next day to a phone call. I realized I had overslept by almost an hour. Perhaps the bed was too comfortable, I thought. I found my way to the dining hall where an authentically prepared porridge and Roly-Poly Pudding with a cup of Darjeeling tea made me remarkably energetic. I went out for a walk. The morning sun felt like a pleasant embalmer to the chilly wind which filled the air.

….and then

Crossing the Darjeeling Railway station I continued and reached a place called Rangbull. An alert in my smart watch prompted your daily exercise schedule is complete. I decided to turn around to go back, but then I saw something at a distance which startled me. I stopped. It was a mud and bamboo structure. It was simple yet so elegant. Is it a house or a hotel, I thought to myself. Just then a lady walked out, I asked her, “Is this your house?”

“It is actually my home stay,” she replied.

“Ah! That’s nice. Your property gives great aesthetic pleasure,” I appreciated.

“Thank you. I wanted to give it a touch of our tradition. This is my small contribution to our roots in this world of concrete jungle,” she mentioned.

“Yes I agree, so are the interiors traditional as well?” I asked.

“You can say I have tried to mix modern lifestyle with tradition.”

I was rather glad as she said this. The morning business was more comfortable while seating on your hips than on your toes.

“That’s nice,” I reacted.

“How so?” I asked.

“Our rooms will be traditional but the amenities will be modern. We have a modern kitchen but our cuisine will be traditional. Moreover we will serve ‘farm to table’ making it a healthy dine,” she replied.

“Why do you use future tense, are you not open as yet?” I enquired.

“We are doing the finishing touches, we hope to start from October,” as she said this I made a mental note to come to and stay here.

It was then that we had eye contact for the first time. Wait a minute, do I know her? I thought to myself. I definitely had seen her somewhere, but where, I wondered.

“Have we met before?” I asked.

“Well…” she looked at me and said, “I don’t think so.”

“But you look so familiar,” I kept thinking.

After a deep thought I realized I had seen her picture, but where. Oh! The young journalist showed me her picture.

“Oh yes now I know. Are you associated with Gorkha 10K?” I asked.

“As a matter of fact I do,” she confirmed. “How do you know?”

“I have seen your picture,” I said. There was something very intriguing about her. She seemed to have a story to tell, I felt. I had to know more about her.

“I always keep thinking if the brew of Keventers is better than that of Glenary’s. This quest can only be resolved with a second opinion. I was wondering if you will be kind enough to be the second opinion.”

She thought for a moment and then “Are you asking me out?” she laughed.

An hour later…

The terrace of Keventers is always crowded. Fortunately for us a table was empty. Quickly grabbing it, we ordered for a meat platter and a pot of tea.

And then I asked, “So are you into marathons for a long time?”

“Not exactly, I started it when I was 40,” she replied.

“You started at the age of 40?” she surprised me.

“Yes I did two things at the age of 40. One, I joined the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute which led to the second thing,” she surprised me further.

“And what is that?” I asked.

“You see in order to climb, one needs to be fit, and to be fit one needs to run. So I started the second thing, running. Gradually over a period of time I participated in marathons in 25 Kilometer runs and all,” she replied.

I took a silent moment to think what a determined lady she was. I admired her even more. Finally I asked, “So you run, you are starting your own home-stay, what else you have in your Pandora’s Box?”

She giggled and replied, “As a matter of fact I also manufacture Newari pickles.”

“I know pickle but what is Newari pickle?” perhaps confusing others was her hobby.

“The Newari people used to make pickles much before the bottled variety of pickles with preservatives came in. We manufacture our pickles using the same old secret recipe.”

“So how is it different?” I asked.

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“It is made with all natural ingredients without any preservative, making it much healthier,” she answered.

“So who are these Newari people?” I enquired.

“Newari is a clan. In fact Gautama Buddha was a Newari. This clan has a rich culture which is regarded as an example of nation community with relict identity, derived from an ethnically diverse, previously existing polity.”

“I see, so coming back to your pickles how many varieties do you have?” I asked.

“As of now we have 25 different varieties,” she answered.

“And how do you sell it?” I was interested to buy this interesting pickle.

“I am working on my website, till then I sell it through my Instagram page ‘prakriti_ko’.

I quickly logged in to my profile and what I saw increased my appetite. The pictures were tempting enough.

items

“How much is the cost?” I asked.

“Well the price range is between 150 to 450 of course courier cost will be extra. So once you order I can tell you the details,” she replied.

“What is the shelf life of these pickles?” I was curious.

“It varies from nine months to three years depending on the type of product.”

“I also see that you sell honey,” I said as I showed her this picture.

Honey

“Not just any honey, this is wild raw honey,” she continued, “We also do Honey Perilla Peanut butter. Perilla seed is grown locally and is a super seed. So all our products are perfectly healthy, we do not compromise on health,” she confirmed.

Perilla

I was truly impressed with her. I decided to order for her products and also decided to stay at her homestay as soon as it opens. After all you don’t come across too many people who show such dedication in what they do. She is passionate, she is sincere, she is …my thoughts were interrupted when her phone rang.

“Hajur…Bhonnos…” she spoke for some time and then said “it’s time for me to leave.”

“Wait, what is your name?” I stopped her.

“Prakriti Pradhan.”

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