Bottled spirit

Their smiles and laughter were infectious; we retained that spirit for a long time.

The other day I was going through my collection of a few quaint bottles of liquor, that I had managed to accumulate over the last few years, during my travels in and around India and a few other places. A bottle of coffee liqueur caught my attention, and though it was bottled 21 years ago, I opened the seal to savour the flavour. The statutory warning, “Consumption of liquor is injurious to health” on bottles, had not come into practice yet!

My curiosity got the better of me. I took a sip.

The liqueur and nostalgia took me back 21 years. It was a bright September morning, my wife and children and I had left Gangtok after visiting the Tsangpo monastery, and were driving back. It was a beautiful drive, gently sloping down and with coniferous trees providing a wonderful surreal scenic surrounding.

Suddenly, we were in trouble. We had a flat tyre, and this was in the middle of nowhere! We managed to drift down the road for about a kilometre as it was a down slope. Suddenly, we came on a large sign which said, ‘Sikkim distilleries, Rangpo.’ We were in Rangpo, of which we had heard so much, mainly for its distillery. We had also plenty of canned fruits and juices from Rangpo.

The car limped in through the distillery gate and stopped. I went to the office for help and heard that the director was Brig Grant (Retd). While in Pune I had met him casually, but had read a lot of his letters to the editor in the Poona Herald (later The Maharastra Herald). Brig Grant was graciousness personified. He not only offered to get the flat tyre repaired at his factory workshop, but also volunteered to take us on a conducted tour of the Distillery. What a wonderful experience it was!

I myself am an industrial health man and have visited a large number of factories, but never have I seen so many smiling and happy workers. They were mostly locals, and the spirit and cheer of the Northeast was evident in their smiling eyes. The tour of the distilleries was enjoyable, understanding the process of the manufacture of the bottled spirits and later tasting some of the contents in the director’s office!

An hour later, we were on our way. The smiles of the workers had transferred to our faces. Their smiles and laughter were infectious, we retained that spirit for a long time. Rangpo was a precious memory. We came down the hills slowly and entered the plains.

The topography changed; the dress and the looks of the locals changed. Gone were the happy-go-lucky look on the faces. We were in West Bengal, and it was hot and humid. The villages we passed through were crowded, most of the locals looked busy, and appeared to have no time to smile.

That night, as we sat out under a starlit sky, my children were recalling the wonderful serene and happy atmosphere of Rangpo. Now after 21 years when I looked at the bottle, it all came back, like a flashback in the movies. The bottle and the spirit in it seemed to lift my spirit, even with the first sip. That was the spirit of Rangpo!

Narendra Modi or Rahul Gandhi? Who will win the battle royale of the Lok Sabha Elections 2019

Get real-time news updates, views and analysis on Lok Sabha Elections 2019 on 

Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram with #DHPoliticalTheatre for live updates on the Indian general elections 2019.

Liked the story?

  • 0

  • 0

  • 0

  • 0

  • 0