Thursday, March 31, 2005

Take Tea and See

I had my magic Darljeeling moment this morning, sipping strong black tea on the balcony of the Tower View Guest House, overlooking the nearly vertical city and... clouds. I have yet to see the crisp white peaks of the Himalayas which postcards here boast of, but I'm happy as a clam just to be here. And to have survived the hair-raising, stomach-churning 3 hour drive up here in a shared jeep.

At 7000 feet above sea level, the weather is... cold. During the day it's about 10-15 C, in the low 50s F. I'm wearing a fleece and still had to buy a wool wrap to walk around in yesterday. But I'm thrilled to be from Kolkata's oppressive, sticky heat. I have a bounce in my step, even when I'm walking up a 45 degree incline, which is often.

It really doesn't feel like India, especially because the people here are either Nepali (the country is, like, five feet away) or weathy Bengalis on holiday. They're just as eager for fresh air as I am, and more importantly, they're not selling anything. The Nepalis are more mellow than Indians. They still do the head bobble, and listen to Bollywood tracks at a high volume, just not speaker-breaking. They hang pastal-colored posters of Lord Ganeshji, but only one or two per room. Best of all, the working class Nepali men actually carry their own weight--literally, they strap loads of bricks and boxes onto their backs, instead of making their women balance everything on their heads.

Yahooo....

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