In praise of Heritage
New Year Old Memories
Taking Life Ahead
Rajiva Shanker Shresta
New Year has been Old and familiar to me each year as it comes and goes but brings in me a fresh lease on life to taking it ahead that I look forward to welcome and accept with gratefulness to what the past year had been and thank for everything in my share - fair enough, I believe!
With each passing year accumulated to a number of years that life means to though many say that it is not in numbers but in deeds you accomplish that counts and matters so much in the end. So far so good, I feel. Sharing Old Memories in New Year is what I intend to do here today. Like for many, for me too it means calendars, greeting cards, diaries, picnics, parties and resolutions, of course. With age my interest in these too is in the wane but I like recollecting how I enjoyed welcoming the New Year in the past just to connect with my friends and relatives and greet them on the occasion.
The best way to welcome the New Year is to change the calendar on the wall and people here in Sikkim have the government Almanac as for the most of them government has been the source to sustain with in one way or the other. Many things have changed over the years but not the Almanac that is in the same shape, size and format since the days of yore in the Chogyal’s regime. Completing two year foundation course as a probationer I had just joined the Home Department as Under Secretary (Accounts) in the Home Department in 1974. I had once said to my senior colleague Joint Secretary R. K. Gupta* that Nepali calendar could easily be accommodated therein. Pointing out to Panchang written in Devnagari script somewhere at top, he said, Look, it is there! I had replied it to be a Hindi word as well. Patro was the word instead in my mind and wished dates were also there. I have a few old Almanacs hung behind the new but some people fancy a heap from previous years for record and easy reference.
It was in 1963, we went on calendar-collecting spree from the shops in Gangtok just for the sake of fun and to see the variety available. I had collected around 30 while my friend Mani* had a few more. Punam Motors had given us nice one in poster size for the company it represented, while Gopalji had from Sikkim Distilleries and the Student Shop had printed its own. This year a Nepalese model is featured for the first time as the Kingfisher calendar girl.
In my assignment as the Secretary in Information and Public Relations Department, I thought of bringing in some freshness to the calendar with its timely publication. Manoj Agrawal had bagged the tender and we had 6-sheeter with the theme Flowers of Sikkim 1997 Calendar for which all the slides but one were provided by K. C. Pradhan, who himself once held this post. Those were the days with limited funds in the budget yet there was scope for some improvement including the annual publication Achievements of the Government. A promising young man, Manoj later excelled himself with his brand Metroprints bringing out not only quality calendars (Sikkim 2004 on Orchids) for some more years but was also into producing view-cards and even a coffee table book Celebrating Sikkim. Tourism boom here must have prompted him to get diversified into hospitality business with his showroom giving way to fast food joint. He but told me once when we met at the Ridge that he was very much in the profession of photography that brought him there that moment too.