Published: 22nd September 2017
ERROR 404 for 100 days: Infuriated, frustrated GenY in Darjeeling talks about the indefinite internet blackout
Travelling miles to fill an admission form and spending big bucks to get basic information is the most normal thing to do for the youth in Darjeeling. How long do you think the youth can take it?
Internet blackout — what does this mean in this day and age where we wake up to feeds and notifications, and sleep after scouting for the best pictures of the day? The right people to explain this ‘phenomenon’ are the students in Darjeeling who have been forced to unlearn the perks of the internet and go old-school. No browsing for information, no stirred selfies, not even emails! The situation only gets worse when this happens during the peak of admissions. We catch up with a few millennials in Darjeeling who tell us how they are finding zero internet connectivity.
25-year-old Sherna Lkr* always wanted to be a teacher. But she never imagined, not even in her wildest dreams, that she would have to travel 70 km at 2 am in the morning to fill her forms. "That's exactly how it is. We have to go in the middle of the night because they do not allow vehicles to plow through the roads during the day. I had to do the drill twice, both at 2 am," she says. The casual tone of her voice was worrying because that implied that it is the most normal thing to do in Darjeeling.
Pain but no gain: Students go to Siliguri to fill forms in the middle of the night because they do not allow vehicles to plow through the roads during the day
It has been a wee bit easier for Reshma Gurung* who has friends in Delhi and Kolkata to fill forms on her behalf. But that comes with its own set of challenges. She spoke to us just after finishing an exhausting call with one of her friends, giving details to fill a tedious form. "I am applying for Civil Services. My friends pay the fee on my behalf or they use my bank accounts to pay for the forms. That has been the case for a couple of months now," says Reshma, who terms the process as infuriating, "I do not have any knowledge of what is going on in the world. How am I supposed to prepare for the general knowledge section of the exams when all I have got is local newspapers and a few books to rely on?" she asks.
When a similar situation irked Deepanshi M*, she decided to bring education to the children by building a small school that houses 36 kids from KG and XII. "We are trying to guide the students and this is certainly not for money," she says. Deepanshi started this when she could not crack any of the exams. What started as a hobby to keep herself occupied has now grown into a school that teaches dance, music and theatre, apart from the regular studies.
Helpless, hapless: Students have to rely on friends outside Darjeeling to fill the tedious admission forms
There isn't a dearth of people like Deepanshi who have gone the extra mile to make the best out of the situation. Sherna, for that matter, volunteered to stay back in Darjeeling and teach the kids at Salesian College, even if that means walking for 15 km every single day. "The students in Darjeeling really want to study. This is just an effort to make them feel comfortable during difficult times," she says. It becomes obvious to us then that when the going gets tough, the youth of Darjeeling get going.
(NOTE: Names changed on request)