post wp-admin edit 283141

Journeying through Sikkim…

Photo by PRATAP CHHETRI on Unsplash

India may seem like a homogenous home to its many people but it serves as an indubitable tribute to cultural plurality. There has always been a prevailing sense of peaceful co-existence that I picked up without much effort. Diverse cultures and individuals living together and thriving was the norm which I tried to replicate everywhere I went. I was privileged to grow up in a country which is such an undeniable melting pot of cultures, ethnicities and languages. Travel was certainly a great way to experience these differences and my trips afforded me a unique opportunity to do that and more. The India I saw not only helped me understand my own country but also appreciate the common values we all cherish.

I took a fairly recent trip to Gangtok, the capital city of the state of Sikkim, in Northeastern India. We walked for hours in the shaded promenade called the Ridge, located at the heart of the city. We passed through the fine Chogyal Palace, the seat of the Sikkimese royal family. There were many strategic viewpoints to take in the many statuesquely beautiful peaks surrounding this small city. Ganesh and Hanuman Tok, festooned with colourful prayer flags, offered some breathtaking views of the city along with piping Indian chai and street food. The true winner however was Tashi Viewpoint which afforded a majestic view of the mighty Kanchenjunga Mountain. The Himalayan Zoological Garden gave us a closer look at red pandas, civet cats and black bears.

I also witnessed celebrations for the Saga Dawa, an auspicious festival for Buddhists in the area. Monks performed ceremonial mask dances with swords and sparkling jewelry. They travel around Sikkim and offer butter lamps and prayers at monasteries. At the heart of this festive tradition lie similar values of togetherness and family bonding which we know so well. There may be varying forms of celebration but the inherent values underlying the festival are exactly the same.

We also journeyed to the Enchey Gompa, an ancient Buddhist monastery whose founder was known for his levitational skills. Around fifty kilometres from the city was the Nathu La Pass, marking India’s border with China. The snowy motorable road passed through the Tsmogo Lake which was undisputedly the most stunning lake I had set eyes on.

The camaraderie I witnessed at the border was quite extraordinary. At the time, the government had just initiated a cross border trade initiative and I saw countless trucks making their way across the pass. The guards I saw at the post were friendly faces from a foreign land but I recognized the same glimmer of human emotion and sentiment which I had grown up accustomed to. We were people on two sides of a fence but there was nothing which essentially divided us. The peaceful bonhomie between these seemingly diverse communities taught me valuable lessons in co-existence and respect.

The sustained belief that we were different but the same became the guiding principle for all my interactions. I learnt to embrace the differences which made us uniquely beautiful and cherish the human spirit which united us all. This approach helped me win friends over and develop long lasting friendships which will survive all manner of distance and divide. A form of acquired cultural intelligence which helped me navigate the cosmopolitan culture in Singapore and will continue to do so wherever I go from here on. I can now appreciate the importance of travel beyond simply being a recreational activity but food for my growing mind and personality.



Hi, I’m Sabhya. I grew up in Lucknow, India. After a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from Lady Shri College of Women at the University of Delhi, I moved to Singapore in 2018 for my yearlong post graduate studies. I graduated with a Master in Management from the National University of Singapore (NUS) Business School. Since young, I’ve been a prolific writer who has travelled extensively across India and has also been a public speaker since the fifth grade. As I navigate and transits through my new life in the little red dot – Singapore, I hope that I can regale you with my anecdotal tales.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

TCG June 2022 Newsletter - join hands

The Commonwealth of Nations: An Epitome of Diversity and Inclusion

One may have heard of the Commonwealth, the Commonwealth Games, or come from one of the Commonwealth countries. However, very few realise the significance of the foundation of the Commonwealth and the impact it has on our modern world. I was born in one of the Commonwealth countries. After spending some growing-up years in the…

I Am Because You Are

Have you come across the African word “Ubuntu”, which translates to “I am because you are?” The African Journal of Social Work gives it a fuller definition: Ubuntu – A collection of values and practices that people of Africa or African origin view as making people authentic human beings.
man pointing at another man

Recipe for Managing Conflict

When was the last time you disagreed and argued with someone over something? Do you remember the unpleasant feeling and how draining it was? It is because, being social creatures, by nature, we loathe conflicts. Often, conflict starts with frustration. Frustration can happen when we least expect it, and it arises when things are not…
Suzhou gardens TCg March 2022 newsletter

Window Frames of Your Mind

Have you been to Shanghai and visited the famous classical gardens in Suzhou? If so, have you noted the different styles between the Chinese versus the English and French gardens? Besides the usual flowers and trees in every landscaped garden, the classical Chinese gardens feature rocks, ponds, pavilions, walkways joining different halls and towers in…
TCG 2022 February Newsletter - Tigger

What Tiggers Do Best

My very dear friend who grew up loving Winnie-the-Pooh once gave me a Tigger figurine, and it now sits on the shelf next to my work table. Since it is the year of Tiger, I thought to share with you this one and only one “Tigger” in the Hundred Acre Wood that has the audacity…
2022 January TCG newsletter tablet, books

My Diary, My Life Story

Each year, despite everything going electronic and online, I will still go out and get a diary/planner in Dec as part of my new year ritual. Last week, when I opened my new 2022 diary, I found a pleasant surprise, a lovely note inserted in its cover. Let me share the extract of the note…
Christmas bonsai plant

Que Sera, Sera

While “uncertainties” is not the favourite word for anyone, it is a fact of life. With so many festivals despite the chilly winter, perhaps our ancestors are trying to pass down some wisdom to us: to appreciate life as it gives and make the best of it as we can.