During the Second World War, Darjeeling besides being a recruiting centre for the British Gorkha Regiments was also a hill resort and convalescence centre for the military. And hence, the town used to be packed with soldiers, mostly British and Americans. The town would present such a carnival look that the Rink and Capital cinemas would bring out clearly printed notices showing the daily films going on, and the houses used to be packed with soldiers and sailors. Dr. T.Y.Pemba in his article, ‘Reminiscences of Darjeeling’ describing the environment then wrote: “I remember very clearly sitting with some British sailors in the cheapest seats in the Capital cinema… and the sailors made loud ribald remarks at every thing and we had a most boisterous time”. Certainly due to the World War, Darjeeling enjoyed great prosperity. Dr. T.Y.Pemba further writes, “There were three famous ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’ restaurants serving delicious Chinese food. The present Shangri La was the Park restaurants serving delicious Chinese food and ice-creams. The present Washington restaurant was a famous Chinese restaurant where all soldiers had to queue up and line up outside for food as they waited patiently for a table. Outside were the union jack, American and Kuomintang flags crossed in amity and fluttering in the breeze. The present Deshbandhu District Library was the Chinese ‘Carlton’ restaurant where people ate on their way to have fun at the Gymkhana Club. I do not remember power cuts or much shortage of water. In fact, when prolonged power cuts occurred, it was so rare that people wondered whether it was the work of the Japanese parachutists! The battle of Imphal and Kohima were then being waged and Calcutta bombed."

Copyright © - FALLEN CICADA, "Unwritten History of Darjeeling Hills" written by Sanjay Biswas/Barun Roy.

 
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