Quiet. Green. Isolated. These sound like fair words to assign my just-concluded holiday. I am slightly blessed that I can take numerous holidays and this one was unlike any holiday I have taken.
The word is rooted in a Himalayish language called Lepcha and it means a place burnt by fire (Mir-Rok). I was too lazy to dive into the folklore but contentedly assumed that this trial by fire might have turned Mirik into its contemporary state of lush, verdant, and evergreen forests. Nestled within these mountainous jungles is the hamlet of Mirik.
hamlet- noun – a small settlement, generally one smaller than a village, and strictly (in Britain) one without a church.
The ‘rents who might have turned follicularly greyer, still retained their early ‘90s enthusiasm for all things holiday and adventure, and travelled with me to Birdsong Home which sat on a rocky, green and Burnt Sienna slice of the mountain in the Darjeeling district. Birdsong Home was a treat. It had an orange farm, a variety of animals and a private forest!
The Birdsong Home is comprised of two separate apartments that can sleep 6 people each. It is rather isolated and surrounded by only two to three other houses. The nearest town where you can get supplies is a 45-min walk away. This makes it especially serene. A dense forest is just a 2-min walk away.
There is something special about staying at the Birdsong Home. It is a place, which demanded we noticed every moment, the every change in light, and weather. It rained, torrentially while we slept, and it thundered and stormed as we woke up. By the time we had drunk our Makaibari tea and eaten our toast, the dark clouds were being peeled away by the bright morning sun. Nature in all its schizophrenia treated us to a new shade, daily. The bright sun announced the arrival of the dogs, cat, and birds that came out to create a merry din and play.
Shadow the kitten, Mickey and Momo, the doggies, Narayan the calf and Miss Cinnamon the rooster were other members of the human race who kept me company!
The bright morning sun gave way to dense clouds that poured onto the deck, almost like a timer to our sunbathing! The dark clouds in fierce motion brought with it a welcoming chill, after the tropical humidity, we’d driven away from, the chill was welcomed with a light-woolen shield.
At dusk, the indoor lights cast a melancholic shadow on the trees, which were almost hidden by the descending clouds. The not so romantic parts of dusk with a view were the moths and winged creatures in all shapes and colours that buzz around the indoor lights.
The many days we spent waking up and going to bed with these views were interspersed with reading and rereading of books, watching American rubbish on DVD, the mothership wrote hindi poems and played CandyCrush on her iPad, while the father, smoked cigarettes, watched the IPL and orchestrated his business over telephone calls. I for one, was perfectly content in posting envy-inducing pictures on Instagram and warding off all queries on where I was and how long was I planning on staying. In between furious Instagramming, here are some good books I read. I’m utterly embarassed to put a picture of the shows and films I watched!
Over the next many days, we ambled through our log cabin, which had wifi, a furnished, stocked and independent kitchen, two comfortable rooms with views to die for, a big telly and a bigger sun deck, we did very little apart from constantly admiring the view, the dew and the opportunity of being together as a family. Junior didn’t turn up (again), saying Zomato sales would plummet if she went on holiday!
We took a day trip to Darjeeling, which was as ratchet as could be. Almost all of West Bengal had mass migrated in herds choking the valley and the view. We decided to ditch a wander and went straight to Glenary’s an iconic, colonially hung-over bakery, café, patisserie, and restaurant. We had endless views of blue skies and roast chicken, beef, and beer. I bought a few bottles of beef pickle, some fresh bread, and a few delicious croissants.
The drive back to the homestay was a sleepy one for me, however, Sagar our friendly driver/guide stopped at strategic locations so that the three of us would take 1600 pictures of rolling tea gardens, all sorts of flowers, a multitude of pine trees and mountains. We were home in time for sunset and once again, we appreciated the beauty of nature. By this point, I was slightly sick of all things green and alive and went to bed. A nap later, a barbequed meal was being prepped, the father overseeing the proceedings with curiosity and authority!
What made the stay memorable was the constant company of the ‘rents, who were rather content to amuse themselves – short walks, trips to buy fresh meat, a trip to find booze, eating momos while the clouds poured in, discussing the frying time of onions and is the wifi working were things that occupied us. My mother decided to cook us a few excellent meals, she even sauntered of to the staff kitchen and conducted a few master classes with the resident cook, dad in the meanwhile made himself busy by secretly feeding the dogs, walking barefoot on grass (I’d NEVER do that) and insisting that meals include potatoes.
A kitchen with a view
The deck, outdoor terrace where the daybed was comfy,the tea was hot, wifi strong and the disposition happy!
The nights at Birdsong Home was as eventful as the days. It brought with it the song of cicadas, the flutter of moths around lamps, early dinners over languid conversations, song, the lights of Kerseong glittering from the outdoor terrace, and on a clear night a sky dotted with stars. The day brought walks around the orange orchards, chasing dragonflies, playing with the assortment of animals, meanders through the jungle and the tea-gardens, smelling every flowering plant, (and photographing them), chasing goats, it also brought lovely cheese omelets, simple lunches, mom-made chicken curries, lots of momos and the best of all the proximity to the people I love the most.
For now, I am natured out. I’m stress-free and ready to face another two weeks of city life before I disappear again into nature. These 30s are a magical time, who would have thought I’d grow to tolerate and even appreciate nature. Nevertheless, I do recommend you look up Birdsong Home. I promise it will help your stress levels drop, aid in your forgetting all things trivial and mundane and afford you some A-Grade peace.
© [Abhik Bhattacherji] and [Seventh Breakfast], . Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [Abhik Bhattacherji] and [Seventh Breakfast] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.