Saturday, July 21, 2012

The land of dragon tattoos, and low-rise jeans

This is not the time of the year when one would typically go to the hills - rainy weather, landslides, foggy view of the landscape and no snow. But then, we had to go somewhere (given that I was massively bored at home).. and decided on Darjeeling and Gangtok. Roped in (read blackmailed) some folks to join.. and up, up and away!

*If Kerala was the land of thick mustaches and split lungis, the northern hills are clearly the land of funky hairdos, dragon tattoos, low-rise jeans, visible underwear and more (my views on this rather eclectic fad here). The ladies in the group could only look wistfully at the hair-styles flaunted by the chinki females.

*They all look the same. No, I mean seriously. No offence meant, but if someone does something to you, and then makes a run for it, you can never, like never, identify him again.

*No vacation is ever complete without the customary fight with the travel agent. Ours was in the habit of asking 'extra' money for everything e.g. 'aap ropeway par chadenge kya?'
'haan... kyon?'
'matlab waiting ka extra Rs. 300 lagega'
'huh? tumko kya sirf ropeway dikhane ke liye hire kiya hai'
'yahan ka yahi niyam hai saab.. kissi se bhi pooch lo'

'Aap log Nepal market mein local taxi mein chale jaana.. I will stay outside. They will charge Rs. 300'
'Tum kyon nahi aaoge?'
'Border Tax lagega'
'Hum pay kar denge tumko'
He paid Rs. 20 as the border tax and claimed Rs. 300 from us saying 'yahan ka yahi niyam hai!'

I will be filing an official complaint against him too. But that's another story.

*On our way back to New Jalpaiguri from Gangtok, we found a massive traffic jam on the highway caused by a landslide. I was amused to find that the driver (of the shared cab we were in) was delighted. He immediately announced - we will have to take a detour - per head extra Rs. 150. Some of the passengers protested - that's a lot all taken together.. the extra distance will not be much. He smirked... do you really have a choice?

*We found the place colorful. The houses were colored in bright hues, beautiful multicolored flowers decorated the verandas and balconies, the clothes worn by folks and their hair had dashes of vibrant colors, and most impressive were the colorful flags put up as a symbol of wish-fulfillment by the localites.

*We went to this place called Chaar Dhaam in Gangtok. Apart from hosting a massive statue of Lord Shiva, this place also had replicas of practically every sacred shrine of the Hindus to be found across the length and breadth of the country. Given how religious I am, I guess am done with my teerth yatra for lifetime.

*I have this new-found interest in Buddhist mythology - in particular, the symbolism depicted by dragons and scary looking devils/men in the murals painted on walls of monasteries. Any suggestions for good reads on this would be appreciated :-)

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