Nita Das <smajhi.com>
In the summer of 2016 we made a trip to Darjeeling, one of the most famous hill stations in the eastern India. It was not decided before hand. In fact, we were not ever sure of where we should go. After much speculation boredom of daily life and obviously the humidity of July decided it. Yes, we were going to Darjeeling at last. We packed our bags and said farewell to our very own Baruipara station on 30th June, 2016 at around noon. It did not seem to be a very peaceful journey at the beginning as Bhaskar da(elder brother of Sushovan) had a little accident had a little accident while he was coming to see us off at the Sealdah station. However, ignoring all the mischiefs we made our way to Sealdah station. We were finally in Tista-Torsha express. Train started at 1.40PM from the station. We were exhausted by the scorching temperature outside. The train caught speed and soon we were out of the urban periphery. The train stopped at Naihati station for a while and then entered Nadia district. We finished our meal with Parathas (a kind of Indian bread) and delicious ‘Alur dom’(potato curry), made by my mom. The landscape changed. I wanted to enjoy every bit of the journey. I was standing at the gate and watching the vast green fields of Jute. Meanwhile the sun changed it color into bright orange and was descending in the West. Oh! I forgot to mention another mischief in the train. A stupid GRP constable passed some humiliating comments on us and Sushovan lost his head and embarked in an argument with that silly creature. A constable is supposed to protect us, instead he was acting inappropriately. We even called 482(railway helpline number) but in vain. The poor security system on India! Anyway, Bapi(my father-in-law) went to sleep in his berth and we, the love birds, started chattering. We went to sleep at around 11.35PM. It was raining profusely when we reached New Jalpaiguri the next day at 3.30 in the morning. It was really depressing. The rain did not have any intention to stop. We had tea at the tea statll. “The rain is going to screw up everything”– I thought. Sushovan went to arrange something and Bapi and I took rest in the railway waiting room. There were plenty of Jeeps and cars waiting outside the station to grab the tourists as it is the only means of earning bread for them. One can clearly hear their trade cry “Nepal, Darjeeling, Gangtok”. We, along with some other passangers, booked a Jeep to Darjeeling. Our journedy started again at around 5AM. The landscape changed after 15 minutes. We had left the crowded city behind and made our way to Darjeeling. The nature was so green and fresh. All m negative thoughts turned into thrill and jubilance. After half an hour we halted in a tea shop to have another round of tea as it would take nearly 3 hours to reach our destination. We commenced. Meanwhile the rain turned into drizzle. Green, yes that it the only color I could see. We saw some military camps. I even noticed some hilly brooks gliding at their their own sweet will. But I was waiting with eager eyes to see the hills. Finally, it appeared, the hills of Darjeeling. The vast hills, reaching up to embrace the sky, mesmeized us. Our Jeep was running through the winding road. There were little hamlets and the houses looked like match boxes. The winding roads and sharp turns were really making me nervous. But, the drivers are really skilled and focused. Their driving skill is unmatched I suppose. We left behind Kurseong, a little town among the hills. The hills were completely covered with dense forests. One could see littl water falls emerging from the heart of the rocks. Some kind of wonderful wild flowers in blue, white, peach, red and yellow were enhancing the beauty of nature. In the meantime we reached Darjeeling at around 10.30AM. We booked two rooms at Hotel Nirvana and yes there was another mischeif. When we unpacked the bags, to our utter dis? all our belongings got wet. Anyway we took our bath and took rest for a while. It was lunch time. We were so hungry as if we had not eaten for a decades. We want to ‘The Jains’, a pure vegeterian restaurant. We ordered plain rice, jeera rice, mixed vegetable curry, tawa roti and dal fry. The food was delicious. We enjoyed our lunch whole heartedly. In the afternoon we got ready to take around of the city. First, we went to a local dhaba. We enjoyed hot tea and steaming momo. You have to taste momos when you are in Darjeeling. Then we visited the Mall road. There was an open theatre and a statue of the eminent poet Bhanu Bhakt and of course the foggy atmosphere. The local market near Mall road contains everything one needs. There were grocery shops, travel agencies, meat shops, fruit and vegetable vendors, cloth store, antique goods and tea shops. I bought a sweater cum kurti frm there. The things over there were too expensive! Anyway, we returned to the hotel at around 7PM. Bapi wanted to take rest but Sushovan and I decided to walk around the little town . So we got out. It was pretty cold outside. We enjoyed some street foods, packed our dinner and went back to the hotel again. The entire town became deserted at 10PM. There was hardly any human being in the streets of the city. The shops and houses were shut down. Next morning we planned to go to the Pashupati market, a small market at the border area of Nepal. After having breakfast at Jains , we started our journey in a Maruti van. Again the same spiral roads, unending greenery, tea gardens and foggy atmosphere. The din and bustle of Darjeeling ciy disappeared. It took 3 hours to reach Pashupati market. It was a small market. They had all sorts of imported goods, electronics, shoes, watches, umbrellas, bags, clothes and the Chinese versin of many cosmetics. The products were really cheap and the quality was also unquestionable. I bought lipsticks, eyeshadow palette, foundation and nailpolish. Bapi bought unmbrellas. It was a steal. Anyway, we could not bue more products due to the custom check at the border. The shopkeepers were so polite and covincing and it means you have to stick to what you need and don’t go into a buying spree. Our next destination wes Mirik lake. Again a long 3 hours journey. I must say the highland people have a good taste for music. The melodious Hindi songs added a special charm to our delightful journey. When we reached Mirik, it was pouring heavily but the sky became clear in a moment . The view of Mirik lake was breath taking. We wanted to spend more time there enjoying the views but time did not spare us. We had to leave the place. We visited the famous Bokar monastery, the home of Buddhist Lamas. We had to return to the Jeep stand as we were supposed to reach NJP by 8PM. We reached Siliguri at around 7.30PM. Again, we were in plains. Kanchankanya express was delayed by an hour. We freshened up at the railway room. Our train left NJP at 9.30PM. Our short trip was over. We returned home the next morning with a lot of memories. The trip will always be green in my memory.