I last went to North East when I was 18 years old. That is about 20 years and six months ago. We had taken a train from #Lucknow and travelled across the northern planes to get to Siliguri – a small sleepy town in the foothills of Himalayas.
The train ride, in the sleeper coaches, through UP and Bihar was painful, but the climb to Gangtok was treacherous. We climbed the mountains for hours and hours in a shared jeep called Jonga, which was rough and sturdy, but didn’t do anything to comfort my mountain sickness. The roads we’re narrow, the ghats were deep, with every turn my heart would sink, with every bend, my stomach would churn. I was certain I would die.
En route we stopped by a tiny house on the road which also served as a tea shop. Famished, we asked the lady mannig the place if we could eat something. And she offered us momos. “I have momo she said, made with kofi.” We had no idea what momos were, neither did we know what kofi was, but we were hungry, and she assured it was vegetarian. When she handed us the plate of the most tender and fresh momos I have ever eaten, we did not know what to do with it. Our North Indian palates had no idea why was this boiled piece of dough served to us. With much difficulty we finished a few. The climb resumed.
In Gangtok and later in Darjeeling, we kept trying to get a glimpse of kanchenjunga, for apparently that’s why we had risked our lives. But kanchenjunga is an elusive peak, it doesn’t easily relent. We waited and waited, it hid and hid.
Finally, the day we were leaving, the driver (of Jenga what else?) told us that the sun was out and the peak was visible. But it was too late – we had to go. We could not see the peak.
Husband’s been in Gangtok for the past few days and has been sending pictures of the town. The place look totally different, what does look the same though is the deadly climb. I am so glad I am sitting in my bed and am not in a jeep on those roads.
Then today he sent me this picture of clouds covering the Kanchenjunga. He’s been trying to get a glimpse of the peak for two days, but has failed. He, perhaps, doesn’t know that it’s not an easy task. As for me, I’m waiting for the day I can gather courage to climb the hills again. Until then, I make do with the pictures. .