February 20, 2020
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Talk Of The Town

Talk Of The Town
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The dominant topic of conversation, when I got to Gangtok late on our 56th birthday, was the speech Sikkim's CM had rattled off to mark the occasion. Only, what he said was evidently not the memorable aspect of his performance. The time he took was: two-and-a-half hours. Now Cuba's Fidel Castro is notorious for his orations—hours long, often stretching wordily through the night. Pawan Chamling is not in that league yet, but who knows? Maybe when we turn 57.

How do you prepare a speech that long? Speak that long? Listen that long? Found an answer to that last question in the faces of the couple I met at a restaurant that night. Having sat through Chamling's heroic effort, they looked shell-shocked. Part of that, I should say, may have been because they were arguing over all he said. They were almost physically drained. The long ride to Gangtok had tired me as well. But seeing these two, I remembered gratefully why I had chosen to travel on August 15: to escape the mouthings of politicians.

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