A tryst with North-East....Gangtok!

26th Oct 2012
Photo of A tryst with North-East....Gangtok! 1/10 by Tarannum Ara
with the little monks
Photo of A tryst with North-East....Gangtok! 2/10 by Tarannum Ara
on the way to lachung
Photo of A tryst with North-East....Gangtok! 3/10 by Tarannum Ara
view from our hotel
Photo of A tryst with North-East....Gangtok! 4/10 by Tarannum Ara
at chhangu lake. the yak's name was hrithik!!
Photo of A tryst with North-East....Gangtok! 5/10 by Tarannum Ara
thousands of feet above sea level!
Photo of A tryst with North-East....Gangtok! 6/10 by Tarannum Ara
at chhangu lake
Photo of A tryst with North-East....Gangtok! 7/10 by Tarannum Ara
at the very popular baker's cafe
Photo of A tryst with North-East....Gangtok! 8/10 by Tarannum Ara
with sonam a vendor at 0 point
Photo of A tryst with North-East....Gangtok! 9/10 by Tarannum Ara
zero point
Photo of A tryst with North-East....Gangtok! 10/10 by Tarannum Ara
a random click

It all started with a sudden plan to visit the hills. It was something unbelievable. We haven’t been out of Bengal for almost two years and monotony was killing us slowly along with other various sources of depression. Looking beyond our nook was what we actually wanted and thereby came the chance. With fear of landslides and puking in my heart we set out for a long journey that we had only dreamt of all these years. A bus journey from Berhampore to Siliguri and a car drive to Gangtok began the trip. The bus journey was one beautiful sleepless full moon night. The Twilight track of Full Moon accompanied me and I felt in love once again. Little did I know that there was lot more coming up for me! My drowsiness broke early morning at the sight of tea gardens of Bagdogra. I woke up with a smile after a long time. It wasn’t cold or warm. It was pleasant and perfect. After we got down at Siliguri, we hired a car and headed towards Gangtok. As the car moved ahead, it seemed that the car was actually unleashing beauty of nature with its speed. The amazing Teesta followed us everywhere. I wanted to sleep but feared that I my eyes may miss some really amazing creations by the Almighty. All my way I prayed to God thanking him and praising him for the lovely world. It amused me how wonderfully he crafted this world and gave different faces to people and nature in various parts of this universe. Like the people of East have small nose and narrow eyes and pale skin, people of Africa have dark skin tone and curly hair. I mean look at the diversity created by Him so intelligently. Rhododendrons, exceptionally blue sky and sea-green River greeted us as we entered Sikkim. Already friendly Sikkimese populations had started welcoming us with their smiles, waving at us. I waved them back. I have never been to a place as friendly as this. As I saw the Kanchenjunga on the way, my eyes were filled with tears and I missed my brother in this auspicious moment. Our hotel room was another surprise for me. It faced the hills and I got an amazing view every morning when I woke up. I lived the dream that every girl owns somewhere in her heart- to live in a beautiful room in the lap of nature, with the warmth of her dear ones. This was all about serenity. But now comes the fun part. We began with the local sightseeing of Gangtok. Hanumantok gifted me a lovely view of Kanchenjunga with white clouds playing around it. It was the first time I had entered a temple and I enjoyed ringing the bells. The view reminded me of Twilight. I felt as if Edward would come to me if I had called out for him. Those pine and cedar trees and colorful flowers stole my heart. Ganeshtok provided a complete view of Gangtok city. I clicked some lovely pictures of Maa and Baba over there. They posed in Nepali costumes and looked super-cute. Our driver was too friendly and we got attached with him in this trip of few hours. The trip was amazing as we visited the handicraft center, the flower show and Tashi view point. Shopping was an additional uplifting factor for me. ;) ;) Cute little tortoises floating in a porcelain tub, masks, little monks in various poses and khukris caught my eye and I felt like purchasing all of them. I wondered why I didn’t get my ATM card and my dad thanked God that I didn’t get it :P . The next trip covered three points- Lachung, Yumthang Valley and Zero Point. We drove to Lachung and had one night stay at a guest house. Our host was a young man who was also the cook. Hedidn’t have any attendant either. We gotta know that he was the younger brother of the owner of our travel agent. Despite the fact he was well off, he did all cooking, cleaning and serving only because he was new to this business and needed experience in the field of hospitality. He was barely 25 and lived all alone and prepared a lovely meal for us. We had expected mere anda curry and rice and he could have done away with that easily. But he prepared rice, chicken curry, a unique mixed sabzi, veg dal, salad and potato fry. Every dish was garnished beautifully. We had candle light dinner for Lachung was facing powercut issues due to the earthquake and landslides that affected the place badly. The full moon gave the distant snow-capped hills a silvery effect and we had an amazing night. What I missed was bonfire. Our driver Bychung Bhutia was very interesting man. Initially he thought we were one of the many rowdy Bengal tourists and when we tried to interact with him he gave us “stern yet humorous” replies. Later when he realized that we were the friendly group of people trying to mingle with locals, with respect, he expressed his authentic and ethical ideas with us in his own funny style. I loved his Hindi and Bengali. Day 1 he cracked jokes related to his experiences with other tourists. For example, “ ek Bombay wala tourist batela de raha tha ‘mera ghar amitabh ke ghar ke paas hai..shahrukh ke ghar ke paas hai”. Maine kaha k “mera bhi dost Bombay mein rehta hai” usne poochha “kidhar rehta hai tera dost?” maine kaha ke “pehle rehta tha, ab Karachi mein shift ho Gaya hai” When I asked him about the tunnels made in a hydro-electricity project, he responded “who osama ko chhupane ke liye banaya gaya tha, lekin obama ne usko maar diya, isiliye abhi bekar padha hai” :P When the roads got bad, before we could respond he always yelled out in his special accent” Uri baba, koto kharap rasta, taka nosto , shorir koshto”. We used to laugh out and every stress and strain of journey got washed out. At Lachun we visited his home, he had a lovely wife who ran a shop at lachun and yumthang.they had kids who were completing their schooling at a boarding school. It felt good to find them happy with what they have and living life and not struggling with it. They are too busy to indulge in anything wrong. At Yumthang we expected to see snow but got disappointed. But the amazing Teesta welcomed us in a new avatar and we were mesmerized. From Yumthang we left for Zero point. We hired boots from the shop run by Bychung bhai’s wife. We had our breakfast and we were ready to move ahead for snow-hunting. Our way to zero point was tough as we the density of oxygen was low. We tried not to talk much but bychung bhai kept us laughing at several instances thus making our journey very very enjoyable. I realized that these drivers are actually the soul of every trip. We found passengers, returning back in other cars, looking sick and upset. We feared what would befall us. But when we reached Zero Point things were heavenly. It was snow all over. We couldn’t reach the thick snow covers as we were exhausted due to the oxygen issue. But we enjoyed the little bit of snow and frost as we crossed frozen Teesta by foot. I was overwhelmed to see Baba crossing Teesta.But we decided to get back to car soon as I found Baba turning pale.Our noses and ears were blood red and we retired back. As wegot near our car, sweet Sonam- the coffee, whiskey and egg vendor called us. We joined her for a little paid-treat. We had amazing time with her. Her presence of mind and sense of hunour amused us. Uske saath ek picture banta hai boss! We got back to lachung and halted for another lovely meal by our host. Bhaichung bhai made me his sister over there and always mentioned me as “saheli”. It felt so homely. A little native girl waved me ‘goodbye’ as our car started the journey towards Gangtok. Our trip back to Gangtok was sad one. We were upset that we will be losing the company of bychung bhai in few hours. We didn’t want to reach any destination anymore and we wanted the car to move on so that we could hear his stories. I witnessed the amazing Moon rise on my way back to Gangtok.I learnt about Buddhist cultures, their idea about birth and death and many other social norms from Bychung bhai. Learnt a few words in bhutia language and I was amused to know that they never abuse at all. No swear language even while joking. My respect for these simple people increased as I got to know how strict they are when it comes to caring for elders. These three days were very precious to me as they were the most enriching days of my life. Parting with Bychung bhai was a sweet sorrow for every one of us for he became a part of us. Amazing North-East, amazing people of North-East. Respect them; they will respect you more than you ever expected them too. All they need is sweet behavior and sweet words. They beauty of nature and beauty of people left me dumbfounded. The sincerity of the presence every element of Sikkim could be felt in the air. It will make you smile and cry out of the inner peace that you achieve. You realize what you’re devoid of in your real life and what these simple people have every day. This journey revealed a new side of nature and beauty before me. It was life-changing.

Great food. International feel. Fresh bakery stuff and a variety of people from.worldwide

Photo of Baker's Cafe, Mahatma Gandhi Marg, Gangtok, Sikkim, India by Tarannum Ara

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