The new faces of Temi Tea Mr Sikkim Manhunt 2019

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On the evening of the much-awaited finale of Temi Tea Mr Sikkim Manhunt 2019, which was powered by The Accelerator magazine and Sikkim Chronicle along with Demarg advertisers, 21 contestants vied to win the top three positions and bring glory to themselves and their families, as new youth icons.

Photo Courtesy: Pagel Lepcha

The special guests for the event were social workers Thuckchuk Lachungpa, Sushma Gurung and politicians Nawraj Gurung and Kala Rai. The host for the evening was Yougan Tamang, founder of Sikkim Chronicle, who kept the audience entertained throughout with wit and humour. A panel of six judges – Rewaj Chettri, Piyush Sharma, Arijit Dutta, Ashwani Neeraj, Peden Ongmu Namgyal and Naresh Subba rated the contestants on various factors, from their walk to the quality of answers.

After a rather exciting set of ramp walks, announcement of the subtitles, performances by DFDA and Urgyen Yolmo and a fun Q&A session, the winners were finally announced – the 2nd Runner-up, winning the title of Royal Plaza Mr Demazong 2019 was Anand Lamichaney, who also won four additional subtitles (Mr Alamode, Mr Multimedia, Mr Talented and Mr Tourism); 1st Runner-up, Louis Phillipe Mr Sikkim 2019 Kanchenjunga Tseetej Siwakoty, who won the subtitle Mr Wellbeing and the winner of Temi Tea Mr Sikkim 2019 Phurba Lama, who also won the subtitle of Man with a Purpose.

Tseteej Siwakoty, Phurba Lama and Anand Lamichaney (L-R)
Photo Courtesy: Pagel Lepcha

Although there has been a generous amount of jokes about the rise of beauty pageants in Sikkim, the whole idea behind Mr Sikkim Manhunt is to quite simply, give young men a platform to showcase themselves. More than the physical appearance of participants, their personalities and potential are given time and value. The initiative of this male beauty pageant is to push the candidates forward and break them out of their shells while bringing like minds together during the journey to the top.

But now that it has come to a close and the titles have been won, there is still a lot we do not know about the three main winners. In conversation with Sikkim Chronicle, the trio talk about their respective journeys, aspirations and social issues pertaining to young people from the state. 

On winning the title

PL: I didn’t expect to win the title but I had worked hard for it. It was my dream from last year after I saw Akhilesh Pradhan win. I came for the audition, got through and met all the contestants – they were really deserving and worked hard. I wasn’t expecting to win but I thought if one right person would pick me up, it would change my future. That’s what I was thinking during the last sequence. I was nervous during the QA round and kept thinking about how the answer could have been better. The actual journey started two months back and I thank all the sponsors, judges and mentors for supporting us. We look forward to representing Sikkim both nationally and internationally. 

TS: I wasn’t expecting it – ok maybe a little but yeah, it was still unexpected when they called out my name. The hard work put in during the grooming session paid off and from the 21 contestants, whoever would’ve won would have deserved the title. It would have been okay if it wasn’t me. The final QA round made me really nervous…I was worried if the question would be within my IQ level or would exceed it (laughs). But watching myself fulfil a dream, was great. 

AL: When I got to the top six, I realized I had to give my best. I gave a diplomatic answer because I had already decided to answer any question that would be asked, as practically as I could. It was an amazing experience. I worked hard from the date for walk-in audition started. I lost 18 kilos in six months! My transformation paid off. Every single one of us was deserving.

On fitness and self-worth

PL: I started playing basketball in class 7 and I’m very passionate about it. I’m a big fan of Stephen Curry and Lakers. Coincidentally, I had actually played against Akhilesh Pradhan when I was studying at Techno India School and he was in Delhi Public School.

TS: I started playing basketball in class 8. My parents thought I would cross 6ft if I started playing, but unfortunately, I have not grown since the day I started playing the sport (laughs). I like the Golden State Warriors. I had joined a gym years before but I did everything but work out at the gym – I used to eat chips and play Clash of Clans instead, but once I went to college I realized I should have put in more work.

AL: I consider myself a pretty jolly person. I consider myself a jack of all trades but master of none. I love learning more about history and culture. But I am very lazy. Still, I worked hard for this physique. I joined the gym in 2011 but I did not do anything. This is the only time I have been serious about fitness. 

PL: I’m an all-rounder. If anyone asked me to talk about something, I never say “I don’t know” because I always want to try and pick up what knowledge I can. So, the most amazing moment for me after the show was when two ladies came up to me and that I’m their sons’ favourite and that they had come only to see “that Christiano Ronaldo dada” (laughs). They didn’t even know my name! They told me that they wanted to become like me, once we took a photo. I know I can influence and inspire people. I have a big relationship with children (which is why I got Man with a Purpose subtitle). 

TS: Whatever I do, I try to do my best and am dedicated to it. Every night, before I go to sleep, I try to think about whatever I did during the day – the mistakes I made and how I can fix it and also the good things that happened. 

AL: I think all the credit goes to Bal Bikas from when I was younger; it helped me groom myself. I’ve always been eager and am creative and try to look at things from every alternative. My perspective is different – I believe in humanity rather than gods. 

On the defining moment of their lives

PL: From a very young age, I experienced a lot of struggles; I started working at 17 and sometimes things would just not be in my favour. Currently, I’m working as a Supervisor at a BPO. Before I was not even comfortable speaking English in front of anyone but that has changed. I’ve seen my mom struggle – everyone does not have the same lifestyle but I’m a proud son. I cannot give much, but I know I will try to give her all the happiness

I believe in a quotation I wrote myself – “work like an agent, live like a legend”. I might not belong to a rich family but a rich family will start from me. I want to give my mom all that she did not have. 

TS: In the first year of my college at ITM University, I was not a confident guy. I had stage fright and kept to myself. That year, I lost a competition in modelling itself (I was expecting to win) and that loss changed my mindset. I was a weak student but from that year onwards, I began to work harder to fulfil my goals. 

Eventually, I topped my university with a gold medal in my subject and then won North East Look of the Year! A new path began from that first-year…that was so important for me that I will always look back to that year even if I achieve a lot. 

AL: My dad is my inspiration. He’s a businessman and once, when we were in the middle of a financial crisis, he was diagnosed with cancer. But he had such a positive attitude while being treated and tried his best to handle his business and our educational expenses, that I feel like nothing will come close to that.

On their parents’ first reaction

PL: I woke up in the morning and gave my mother a call; told her I had made my dad proud. My brother had already given her the news the night before and she was so proud, she cried. Apparently, members of our society are waiting to welcome me home. 

TS: I was a different person before the grooming started – a bit of an introvert, but then when they saw me in the finals, I was different. They were really mesmerized seeing the changes in me and are looking forward to what step I’ll take next.

AL: They were super happy because I am the first one from the whole Lamichaney family to win any pageant show so, it’s a proud moment for my family!

On mental health in Sikkim 

PL: I just want to tell people that there are always ups and downs – the reality is that we never lose someone/something. If God takes away something, you receive something else in return. But when a person feels depressed, only they know how it feels. I’m just 22 – sometimes a lot that I say, someone younger or my age might think that I don’t know enough to advise them, which is okay since it is human nature. When you experience big things in life, you learn how to deal with it and learn how to solve things as you go. 

Problems are not there forever; they have solutions. We will always be worried about something or another so we shouldn’t stress over the small stuff and give up completely. 

TS: Something which I’m really against is our people committing suicides because I myself have gone through a lot – seeing people, a close friend depressed and on the verge of losing hope.  I feel scared that I might not be able to save them.

Mental health is something that people don’t really talk about. People who suffer from mental illnesses look jolly and normal from the outside, but only they know what they are going through. I feel if they get someone to talk to, half of their problems or stress is already relieved. But on the other hand, honestly, I want all of them to think about the people around them, who depend on them and have hope in them. Just like talking about sex or men wearing pink is still a stigma in our society, even talking about mental health is one of THE greatest stigmas we are facing but still, people are least interested in helping anyone.  

All I can say now is if not with a doctor or counsellor, at least share with someone close to you or talk about it the way you feel. Anyone can feel free to even talk about it with me and I would be more than happy to help them out.

AL: Seeking counselling, educating yourself about their condition and connecting with others who have a similar mental illness can help to gain self-esteem and overcome destructive self-judgment. Your family, friends or members of your community can offer you support if they know about your mental illness so, reach out to people you trust.

On the LGBTQ+ community in Sikkim

PL: We cannot judge people by what they look like. If in the future, I get married and have a child who has alternative sexuality, I would support the child. I wouldn’t care what people say.

I want equal rights for everyone. I want women to be treated fairly and will always support women empowerment because a lot of times women are asked to stop their lives for others. I want to take the initiative of making Sikkim a safer space for women. Crimes against them are increasing every day and people are still taking it rather leniently. 

TS: Recently people are becoming more aware of the LGBTQ+ community, but what I feel is that there should be no separate community at all because it shows that you’re differentiating them from other people. We are all humans no matter our gender. Everybody has a different personality and a different way of leading life and that is their right. Who are we to interfere with that? People will always talk, even if you’re at your best or at your worst. All I want is people to respect each other, however, they are and help each other grow.

AL: The most important step for this is to be united. There is a saying – “united we stand and divided we fall”. So that means if we are together supporting each other, whether it’s an LGBTQ issue or any other issues, we need to fight together.

The LGBTQ community should be proud of how they are and our society should accept that because there is no harm in seeing someone living life happily in the way they want to.

On breaking masculine stereotypes

PL: I want to break the stereotype of men who cannot cry; the whole ‘mard ko dard nahi hota’ idea is silly because we are also humans. Men have feelings but we just don’t open up enough and keep it all to ourselves.

But what I have observed is that if men are walking around, society calls it a ‘gang’ but if girls are walking together, they call it a ‘group’. These small things also make a difference. 

TS: Crying is something I want to talk about – there is a saying that “men don’t cry”, but in fact when I look back, I believe I have cried a lot and I don’t hesitate to say that I do. I look strong from the outside, yet I’m a very emotional person.

Frankly speaking, we should feel free to cry. It’s just letting our emotions out. Just because I cry, doesn’t mean I’m weak. In fact, every time I cry, it makes me stronger the next time. Hiding your emotions is a sign of weakness I feel; let your emotions out even if you cry, laugh, shout, smile and eventually, you will be more emotionally stable and in time you will understand your emotions better than anyone and I believe that’s not a weakness, right?

AL: According to me, us men are emotional but if we cry, we are judged. Let’s respect the emotion; it is not that men are weak for crying, but it is probably because we’ve been strong for too long.

I am an emotional guy but I hardly cry. Still, the last time I cried was while watching Super30. In the movie, there was a scene when the actor was supposed to take his dad to the hospital and they were so poor they could not even afford a taxi.

On the driving force in their lives

PL: My mom is the biggest inspiration in my life. With her, me and my brother saw both good and bad days in our life. She was too young when she got married. Those days, she was not aware of anything – she hadn’t even thought of getting married but my dad had liked her so the marriage happened suddenly.

I haven’t even properly mourned after my dad passed away. With the experience that I had, I’ve always found a solution to everything. It was hard to handle myself; sometimes when friends would tell me that they didn’t have a parent, but when it happened to me, I was strong enough to handle it.

TS: I believe it is my own imagination. Whenever I see something really good, for example, like a movie or listen to music, I imagine myself there and then I want to achieve it so badly, I do everything that is in my hand to make it come true. Just my imagination is the main driving force in my life and obviously, my parents’ support.

AL:  My driving force is my dad. After he was diagnosed with cancer, thrice that too, the family was losing hope as the doctor said that there are very few chances of him living, but when I saw my dad recovering with his willpower, it gave me the strength to take my life and my goals more seriously.

The last book they read

PL: You Can Win by Shiv Gera.

TS: I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou.

AL: Geeta by Vinoba Bhave

What makes them who they are

PL: I never demanded any luxury from my parents; I never demand anything from anyone. All that she could, my mother did for our family. It is time to give it back to her. I matured at a very young age, at 14 or 15, I knew what life was like.

TS: There was a different me a few years back and I was ashamed of myself, not confident and irresponsible…but you know, things changed with time and I realized where my interest lies, what I need to do to achieve them. Obviously, I have had many failures but what makes me is the will and especially patience and ability to wait for the results and not rush. That is the best thing in me. 

AL: I see myself as a creative guy who always sees things in a different way, apart from that I am a good learner and I utilize my time learning something it can be anything.

What next?

PL: I have been determined from the first day. I am always focused on what I’m doing and I know I will learn more as I am not aware of many things in this industry. I need the guidance of my mentors; mentally and physically, I’ve begun to prepare for the next time I represent Sikkim on a national platform. I need to understand my responsibilities. 

TS: I have a few things on my mind about what I want to achieve next, but it all depends on the organizers and what they think is best for us, so I’m waiting on their decisions but in the meantime, I’m just focused on improving the way I speak. I usually speak without thinking, in a rush, so I’m just learning how to think and speak, how to stay calm and know what to say at the right time. 

AL:  I have set my goals and already taken my first step. Now I need to be more focused and dedicated than before because further on, it is not me I will be representing, but my family, my place and my state.

These three have set a benchmark for the next batch of contestants, who can only hope to exceed expectations set this year. Although the trio has individual strengths that are unique to each individual, it sets them apart from the mass and establishes them as youth icons. 

Phurba’s determination to promote women’s empowerment after watching his mother raise the family; Tseteej’s dedication to proving that hard work and resilience lead to success; Anand’s creativity and curiosity to learn more – these are the qualities that our people, both young and old, need to emulate. Their drive and passion for making not only their lives better but people around them will lead them far.

Qualities of not just a model, but a model human – humility, wisdom and a desire to learn more, has left people believing that they won more than just three Mr Sikkim Manhunt titles – they won the hearts of people who mattered.

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