Sunday, 19 May 2013

Who are we without our stories? – Part two

Me and the girls up a mountain in Kurseong

Cheku Cheku in Kurseong

Kurseong is a small town in the Darjeeling state of West Bengal, India, 4860 feet above sea level. In other words it was freezing. For all you British inhabitants reading this it was below 20 degrees … yes the temperature that you are going out in, with your shorts and your sunglasses on. However for someone that has been subjected to 40 degree plus for the last month, dropping back down to 20 was bone chilling. I re found my love for my socks and my jumper and cosied up in my 3 blankets at night for fear of catching hypothermia.

The journey up to Kurseong from New Jalpaiguri was breath taking and flippin’ scary. I was prepared for the road and sat in the front of the jeep with Kirsty (I’ve learnt from Mysore and the sicky bus). With our bags tied to the roof of the jeep and the 6 of us girls plus 4 other Indian tourists shoved into the jeep we set off. The journey was long and treacherous with times when there was barely enough room for one car let alone one car and a bus. Me and Kirsty sat for most of the journey holding hands as we looked out the window of the jeep to nothing but a steep 50 metre drop off a cliff face. Luckily we made in to Kurseong alive despite feeling a little shaky and nauseous.

The Darjeeling state is very well known for its tea and in Kurseong we got to stay on a tea estate and live with the community that pick the tea. We only stayed there one night as we were moving on to Darjeeling the next day, but this one day and night was unforgettable. When we arrived at the homestay we were immedietly greeted by a big smile and some tea, surprise surprise. Then we took a short journey to where we were staying. The house was adorable and we were introduced to the lady who was looking after us and Rahul, the boy who was our guide. Everyone we met here was Nepalese as Kurseong is inhabited by people from Nepal.

The morning was spent taking a walk around the tea estate with Rahul telling us about the tea and the workers. Rahul told us he was only 17! It was crazy because he looked so much older. He then showed us where the workers went to weigh the tea leaves that they had picked for the day before they went off to the factory. One worker can pick up to 3kilos of tea leaves in one day. But they only get paid 90 rupees per person. That is £1.07 a day! This made me very sad because the amount that someone in Britain spends on tea every day is probably way more than that. Think about your average price of a tea from Starbucks and then think about where that money is going to. I can tell you now it is defiantly not these amazing people that live up in these mountains.

The evening was amazing! We had our dinner and then Rahul came to fetch us because some of the village people had put together some small entertainment for us. It was so cool. We all sat in a small room wrapped up in our blankets and they played and sang Nepalese songs for us. Then it all got way to fun and we were all encouraged to stand up and dance (Nepalese style) to the songs. Then they tried to teach us a song. It goes Cheku Cheku mm mmm mmmmm mmmm maaaa, dooo be doo be doo beeeee. Please note there are words in the place of the mmm’s and the do’s and the be’s but I don’t actually know them.

1 comment:

  1. Rebecca, we're so pleased to hear about your holiday, it must be very exciting visiting all these out of the way places. You're right about wages though, much has been said over here about wages for clothing workers in Sri Lanka after many lost their lives when their building collapsed recently. Comparisons were made with what they are paid and prices we pay in shops such as Primark. Basically, if we paid a little more, it could lead to a life changing life style to those workers.
    Stay safe, work hard but above all, enjoy yourself as well.
    Love Sandra and Dave