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Puran Gongba or Joey Uncle passed away

Puran Gongba, aka Joey Uncle
Puran Gongba, a musician who was of late recognised as Joey Uncle after his iconic pub, Joey's, breathed his last at Planter's Hospital in Darjeeling late last night following a stroke.
Puran, 66, was not only the life and soul of Joey's, a popular hangout of both foreign and domestic tourists but also someone who could correspond to the old world charm of Darjeeling.
Film director Anjan Dutt, who considered Puran as more than "a friend" and would call up the pub owner whenever he had to talk about "anything in life", termed the Beatles fan "a rare species." "It is so difficult to find honest people, people with certain taste in terms of not only food but also attitude. He believed in his values and clothing. He was someone with a good taste. These kinds of people are slowly getting extinct and Puran is one of those rare species," said Dutt.
For an outsider, Joey's has been a must-visit place in the hill town because of the ambience Puran had created.
"When you walk into Joey's, you feel that old world charm, the feel of what was there in the old world, old Darjeeling," said Dutt.
Joey Uncle's wife, Shashi, remembers the day when the pub was first opened.
"The family had a bar-cum-hotel from the mid 70s but he wanted to come up with this place, Joey's. It was opened in 1991 and we were initially pretty scared. But we were surprised to see a lot of westerners on the very first day."
Joey is Puran's son who is now in London and will not probably make it to the funeral which will take place at 9am tomorrow.
"Everyone in England calls him Jyoti but here, he is called Joey. My husband really wanted to visit the granddaughter in England," said Shashi.
Puran's body will be brought to Joey's Pub at 8 am tomorrow and will be kept for an hour before being taken to Alubari crematorium. "Joey's was where his heart was," said Sailesh Sarda, a close friend.
It was in Joey's that he made friends like Bruno Chappaz, a Swiss national. "Burno in fact named his second son Jerome Puran Chappaz and everyone back home seems to inquire with the family about the middle name," said Shashi.
It was not just his taste that brought people close to Puran. He was liked for his music, too, and was one of town's acclaimed guitarists. "His first bands were Young Savages and Turquoise and Jade. He was fond of music," said Shashi.
In a documentary on Puran, the singer said once he had to choose between learning the guitar chords of the Beatles song "Blackbird" and meeting his date. He chose "Blackbird" and the girl never returned to his life.
"He also used to love the songs "In My Life" and "Till there was you" (both from Beatles)," said Deven Gurung, who used to tour with Puran on shows.
"This year, we were planning shows in Darjeeling and Gangtok and he was really excited. He took his music seriously and was good at it," said Gurung who had accompanied Puran for a gig in Calcutta in 2009 under the banner "Friends of Darjeeling".
In 2004, director Dutt and Kabir Suman, an exponent of modern Bengali songs, came up with an album, Anek Din Por (after a long time), where Dutt had written a song on Puran. "After the song was released, it's seems a lot of people used to visit the pub and wanted to hear Puran sing. He used to tell me 'I am just an ordinary bar owner and you have made my life miserable'. He was always modest," said Dutt.(TT)

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