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INDIA | Saturday, 19 December 2015 | Views [394]

I have been waking up most mornings around 4-5 am with the sounds and lights of taxis below my 6th (not 5th) floor window as they prepare to take tourists to Tiger Hill to view the sun rise over Kanchenjunga. This morning was no different.

Yesterday, as I was taking a break from reading the last pages of Butcher's Crossing in the Himalayan Java Coffee House and looking down over the Mall, the lottery ticket vendor, the grey sky and the plasterer on the rooftop, I reflected that I was not here to see Mount Kanchenjunga but that I still had no clear idea why I had come to India. Like Will Andrews, the protagenist of Butcher's Crossing, I am looking for something and maybe there is nothing to be found. I was not feeling too cheerful.

This evening I have arrived in Kalimpong after a two to three hour jeep taxi ride cutting through woodlands that at times had me nostalgically thinking of South Devon. The hair pin turns are not so steep or continuous in Devon of course. 11 of us were closely paked into the jeep, 4 including myself squeezed into the very back seat, but once again I found myslef relishing the journey rather than the arrival. 

At the motor stand in Kalimpong I was kindly helped into my still too bulky backpack and given directions to Deki Lodge, another kind recommendation from the lovely Abhayadevi. So far on this trip one thing I am definitely pleased about is my learning to take and trust instructions. Yesterday, for example, I was given directions to enter a yellow building in order to complete my application for a permit to enter Sikkim and checked myself from going into a white building which was just as well as the correct yellow one was around the corner. Today I managed to follow the instructions that had been given to me, which included asking for more directions, and arrived, despite some misgivings, at Deki Lodge, albeit pantingly. 

I was offered a choice of two rooms, one at 300 rupees approaching my image of a comfortable prison cell and the one I have taken at 1050 rupees which not only has a shower and double bed but, best of all, a balcony with settee, table and chairs and a great view over the valey and across to I know not what as it was shrouded in a light blue grey mist. 

ANYWAY, I love it already and enjoyed sitting on the settee and doing nothing very much before walking into town for an ok Chinese meal, massive plate of egg fried rice, sweet and sour vegegables and vegetable spring rolls most of which I still have with me.

I am now back at the lodge, sitting at the kitchen table and contemplating an early night.

My last few days in Darjeeling, to recap those, were fairly introspective. After the Ghoom day I felt a little monasteried out so the only major excursion I took was to the Happy Valley Tea Plantation which certainly taught me something about tea that I was not too enthusiastic about learning but learnt none the less. On the same day I did feel a sense of satisfaction in successfully and efficiently obtaining a permit to enter Sikkhim, involving two administrative buildings of course at least a mile apart. I also managed to withdraw the money I needed to pay my hotel bill overcoming a reluctance I found in Darjeeling banks to change dollars or travellers cheques. These may not seem like big things but they do signal progress for me.

The other thing to report, which tallies with my questioning what I am doing, is a sense of myself as a bit of an anomaly or freak as a 50 year old single man travelling on his own. I hope I will get to the bottomish of this and feel more comfortable in myself.

As for my dream life, after a lull, this has picked up and become vivid once again. I even had one dream that felt, on the whole, uplifting, involving shyly knocking on a door in Bath, opened by a famous Damien Hirst like artist who proceeded to eventually invite me in, show me his wonderful art work, change into an attractive, creative female artist with whom I talked about public school, she had surpisingly been to one, and who condescended to spend a considerable amount of time with me. Last night's drean ran like a really good thriller with a happy sad ending.

That'll do.

Love from me xxx

PS for those interested, Dad particularly I guess, I have now uploaded the remaining pictures from the Calcutta Cricket Club...

Tags: contemplations, journeys, mountains

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