Ya… I am bong too! though it doesn’t mean ‘ machhi khabo ‘ and ‘from Kolkata ‘.
Have always found it difficult to explain my bong blood to people, given that am not that fluent in Bengali also.
Nevertheless last December we decided to go homewards exploring our eastern connections starting with Kolkata.
One place where the local ads caught my attention …on radio, in cinema hall, the hoardings, the small posters around. Unbelievably most ads are about diseases and hospitals unlike in namma Bengaluru where every time you hear a jingle or see an ad …in 80% cases they are about the so called dream homes. Is there any connection between the energy of the city and the ads…I wonder !!
The divide is so obvious in Kolkata. The new town on one hand and the houses with pukhurs (ponds-bud for bacteria and viruses to flourish), on the other. I don’t intend to be cynical but Kolkata needs thorough cleaning from roads to systems. How can they still make people wait for 45 min- 1 hrs to get a pre paid taxi. Get a computer for God’s sake instead of using old receipt book with carbon.
I know I know, Kolkata should instead be used as a synonym for art and culture but treasure should be treasured, really.The fact also remains that I still do like Kolkata, blame it on my blood.This was my only third visit. Food has always been great here especially the street food.
Hmmm besides eateries, we did go to Victoria memorial, Dakkhineshwar temple, Alipore Zoo etc etc
Victoria Memorial Kolkata
Kolkata to Darjeeling
Next on the list was Darjeeling, the hill station with lot of associations from British to ‘Barfi‘.
Early morning, come to the window of your room and see the magnificence of the Himalayan range, Kanchenjunga, Wow!! One advantage that Sinclairs has even though the uphill walk to reach Sinclairs does kill every time one wants to reach the hotel after a long tiring day.
Darjeeling tea, fresh vegetables & fruits by the roadside, kids in all kinds of colorful school uniforms and the mall road which is where the spirit of the hill station resides. Walk anytime to the mall is fun .Cafes, book shops& artifacts !! In fact, the strongest recall I’m having right now is of Nathmull’s tea boutique.The tea sets on sale are gorgeous,wish had bought one of those .
Incidentally, unique to Darjeeling is its Himalayan mountaineering institute museum & Zoo which has the Himalayan variety. I really did spend a lot of time trying to perfect my photography skills in front of the red panda there, it was just not ready to pose L However this little fellow was curious enough to see a creature like me.
River water rafting in Sikkim
After 2 days at Darjeeling we left for our expedition to Sikkim with a stop over at Teesta for a thrilling river water rafting experience.And ya, best part is you do can take your children along.
Places of interest in Sikkim
Baiguney, Pelling, Gangtok & Nathula pass. Lots to see in Sikkim . Houses with flowers, trucks with eyes, traffic jams and hardworking people with simple hearts.
Travel is of course not that easy here & it is comparatively expensive too. Winters, the sun sets by 4- 4.30 when even a 20 km travel takes more than an hour due to the difficult terrains.
When we reached Baiguney, it was late afternoon and we hardly had time left for sightseeing. No one wanted to go out but I still decided to visit Chardham of Sikkim and that too alone with the driver. As soon as I sat in car our driver, Moses said, ‘madam you seem very scared ’.
Of course, I was .I had just landed in a new place and had met him hardly 30 min back. I could only smile for my determination and the risk taking appetite. The journey was 2 hrs upwards and as soon as I reached Chardham, it became almost dark.
I returned back at 7 pm .My husband was right, Sikkim is very safe even though we had continued to call each other every 15 min during my entire trip. Accidentally I also discovered that the driver had fanatic love for music more than anything but least interest in geography as Bangalore was part of Kanyakumari for him, until I explained . Not his problem, it is the disconnect.
Pelling is near Baiguney, so Mr. Moses also drove us to the oldest monastery in Sikkim, Pemayangtse & Kechuberi lake, the so called wishing lake in Pelling. ‘Pemayangtse monastry’ was built by monks of pure Tibetan origin.
Prayer flags, the bells…and weird structures made of stones, different ways to accessing God.
2 days of tasty food and complete relaxation by the rangeet riverside at Club Mahindra, Baiguney observing lights here and there on huge mountains that surrounded us, was truly majestic.
Thereafter we headed for Gangtok following Teesta river. Only thing possible on the first day was Rumtek monastery in ‘ traffic jam’ prone Gangtok. Evening we spent at Gangtok’s MG Road ,best place to buy all feng shui stuff.
Nathula Pass Sikkim
Next day it was turn to visit Nathula pass.
I can proudly say now that I feel completely fine even at 14000 ft above sea level.
Every travel has to bring some unique story no… infact no one makes them, they just choose you to be part of them .And this time it is about 6 hrs traffic jam on the way back to NJP station from Gangtok, which we faced on our last day. Now that we are over that experience, am just thinking… what all things we pray for no… ‘to be able to catch train, to be able to find some roadside loo, some water to drink’, I mean God has so many important things to attend to.
Anyways we finally did learn to pee safely on mountain road where every inch of it was covered with vehicle, take water from a small waterfall nearby, use loo at a petrol bunk just before NJP and finally pay Rs 5000 extra to get tickets in another train the next morning when hundreds of passengers stood there stranded who also had missed their trains.
Many thanks to Mr and Mrs Gosh, parents of our neighbor Mr Joydeep who entertained us even at 12am midnight at there house at NJP. Indian culture jindabad and bong culture double jindabad. We got all kinds of ‘rosogollas‘ and ‘bhajas‘ even at our midnight dinner 🙂
Finally Momota didi’s ‘Duronto’ brought us back to Bangalore after a fortnight long trip… …SAFELY!!
The author is a Marketing Management graduate,currently living in Bengaluru India.Has traveled to more than 24 states in India and has been to 25+ countries apart from her extensive travel within India. She has the experience of traveling alone, traveling with her kid, and traveling in groups, with family or friends.
She believes, traveling, photography and writing makes her life not only beautiful but also meaningful. Visit her blog at https://www.traveljaunts.in/blog-travel-jaunts/ for more