1 Jul 2013

gathering story roots

I have recently been to India, and stayed in Kolkata, Kalimpong, and several locations in Sikkim, visiting many places and  gathering stories from my family and cultural heritage .
I am writing a book that will weave some of these stories into a longer narrative, and that will bring unheard or little known voices into the world through the portal of its pages.

My father was born and grew up in India before coming to the UK as an immigrant in 1956, and I had not been there at all, until my trip. My fathers ancestral line also hail from that region: my grandmother was one of the Lepcha tribal people, and my grandfather was from generations of British colonials, engaged with many of the enterprises of Empire.

The stories I have gathered are from the Lepcha cultural heritage, from institutional records, from anecdote,  history books, newspapers, and from oral traditions . I have met new friends and been welcomed into families, have become connected to old family friends and to Lepcha tribal traditions through their wise and beautiful elders, shamans, home-makers, professionals, and activist youth. Through these I have travellers tales to tell. Other stories have been gathered from clues in the landscape: the retreating edge of jungle, the arts and crafts that are part of built structures, the location of ancient and new sacred sites; and some stories come from dreams as the colours, flavours, symbols, and voices of my days there, whisper amongst themselves in subconscious domains.

Of course, many of these are secret still; but the book is taking shape. Here are some images that each tell a thousand words.

More to come on other blogs, with words of my own telling.

hotel lounge, Kolkata
On the road from Gangtok to Dzongu - landslide

Beautiful homestay in the jungle, lower  Dzongu

River Teesta running low due to damming. Nr. Mangan, Dzongu

wild orchids

Lepcha dwelling

Khabse and spiced tea

Two of my lovely Lepcha hosts
Building renovation on a temple damaged by earthquake

along the River Teesta

partly renovated wall painting

Deity in temporary sacred space, while his old temple is being restored

Bamboo scaffold on a brand new temple to sit alongside the old

delicious chee