Of ‘life and the land’ : Darjeeling in Indra Bahadur Rai’s There’s a Carnival Today


Jemima Sakum Phipon, Assistant Professor
Department of English,M.U.C Women’s College,Burdwan. 


This paper seeks to closely examine Indra Bahadur Rai‘s There’s a Carnival Today as a historical documentation of ‘ life and the land’ of Darjeeling in the 1950s.There’s a Carnival Today(2018), is a translation of Indra Bahadur Rai’s Aaja Ramita Cha(1964) by Manjushree Thapa. The fact that it is‘ a novel about the old Darjeeling’ written by a son of Darjeeling’s soil makes it a Darjeeling novel in the truest sense.It chronicles the socio-political upheavals which brought about dynamic changes to the Darjeeling hills post-Independence. Even after India’s independence from the colonial masters, Darjeeling witnessed very little or no change in the administrative and economic structures as domination and oppression persisted in Darjeeling in the form of an internal neocolonialism perpetrated by the Government of West Bengal. The novel portrays the unrest in the tea plantations as workers protested against difficult labour conditions and took to the streets in protest.Though written at a time when the Gorkhaland movement had not begun, yet it portends the future unrest. The novel portrays the quotidian lives of the people of a cosmopolitan Darjeeling through the eyes of Indra Bahadur Rai .At the core,There’s a Carnival Today is a novel that centres around a theme that is prevalent in Indra Bahadur Rai’s writings, the Indian Nepalis, and their place in this massive political entity called India.It foreshadows the issues of identity which still shape politics and attitudes in the region even today.