Saturday, May 21

Yuletide carnival brings trade cheer to Darjeeling

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Christmas has come a day early in Darjeeling with the Gundri Bazar bringing food, music, art and most importantly, hope among people in these troubled times.

Gundri Bazar is the name of Darjeeling’s old market which no longer exists. However, social outfit Vik-Run Foundation and event management company Decibel have set up a swanky three-day Gundri Bazar, starting on Friday, at Chowrasta, the third such edition of the carnival around Christmas.

Its success can be gauged from steps young entrepreneurs like Kabya Lama, 26, have taken. 

A photo-journalist in Mumbai, Kabya returned home in the hills last year when Covid-19 shut the country.

“Last year, I set up a stall, Kurseong Fresh, here at Gundri Bazar. I sold mushrooms and organic turmeric. This platform gave me the confidence that my products will sell. I now have a shop in Kurseong,” said Kabya, who added soap, tea, local food products and plants to her list at Gundri Bazar this year.

Kusum Rai, 31, who moved from Dimapur, Nagaland, to Salbari in Siliguri, has set up Axone, a Naga food stall.“I want to be in the Naga food business and am testing waters,” she said.

Young graduates like Riwaz Pradhan, and his school friend Jorden Sherpa, both 22, said Gundri Bazar could be “life-changing”. Riwaz has graduated from St. Joseph’s in Bangalore and Jorden from St Xavier’s in Calcutta, but both want to explore baking as a career. The duo termed their initiative Baking Therapy as baking was their “therapy during lockdown.”

“People from Darjeeling who settle outside the region ultimately want to come home. We want to start from here and then expand outside,” said Jorden, whose rasmalai cake cups were quite a draw at Gundri Bazar on Friday.

Organisers will hold a seminar with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in Darjeeling on December 27, after carnival to “enhance business outreach”, said Vikram Rai, founder of Vik-Run Foundation. Mohanish Lama, the owner of Decibel, said Gundri Bazar will be held in Siliguri in January-end and Calcutta in mid-February.

Source: Telegraph

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