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Day 35 of The Candid Odyssey

With our journey to Siliguri in West Bengal, we officially begin the exploration of the North East part of India. Northeast is comparatively less traveled to because public transportation is less, and there are no major cities or tourist attractions as such. Only true explorers like us go there ;) It's going to be different and a bit difficult. For us, the major challenge is transportation. There aren't many buses or trains across these northeast regions. From Siliguri, we take a shared taxi to Darjeeling. Shared taxis are our ray of hope here. As the area is fully high range, the journey is really interesting, especially if you are from the plains. We go through lush forests and tea gardens, with roads full of curves and bends, and picturesque valleys all along the way. And this continues as long as we are in the northeast. 

As we reach near Darjeeling, nature gets whiter. Heavy Fog! We can't see anything beyond 10 meters. Not even lights. This is interesting and frightening at the same time. Interesting because this is truly a natural magic, and frightening because our driver is driving with all guesswork. If he misses a turn, we will be there down the valley! As we get higher in altitude, the heavier the fog becomes. 10 meters automatically gets reduced to 5 meters :) Even in such heavy fog, Darjeeling city center is very lively. Hundreds of street vendors and shops along with thousands of tourists. As we stroll through the Mall road, we can understand why the city is so crowded. The state-level boxing competition is going on. The back-to-back matches of all age groups make it engaging enough. And it's happening in the public space, open for all. Our timing is really good. We could stand there, get something to eat, and watch. Boiled corn with spicy masala applied to it, that's tasty :) 

Time passes by as we keep watching the boxing matches. Now we know why professional boxing matches get that many viewers and fan followers. Anyway, it's getting late at night and everyone is leaving. Today's matches are over. We have a Backpackers Hostel as our stay for today, but it's somewhere down the road a few kilometers away. We will walk. That's the only option though. Along the way, we can find a lot of women selling handmade winter clothes. Like the women that we saw in Goa, here also these women are selling the same stuff. Many are watching videos on their phones, some are knitting, and very few are actively selling. We don't know who will make more money and who will be more fulfilled. Business, similar to life, is all about prioritization. How we prioritize changes the direction. 

By the way, our direction right now is determined by Google Maps :) Maps have been a friend for us throughout our journey, except for today. Because it led to a narrow path of downward steps with small houses packed on both sides. There is no one outside those houses as it's late and it's all foggy. We can't see anything beyond a few meters. All we can hear is the dogs barking right in front and beside us. It's terrifying. We also can't run because we can't see the path forward, neither with the ways nor with the maps. All we can do is scream for help and knock on the doors. Some residents came out to help. They move the street dogs away and try their best to help with the navigation part. Because of the language difference, we can't understand anything they say. But we get rough ideas and we continue walking with that in mind. Only to find that we are now trapped inside a thicket! Can't see anything, can't find anyone, can't even think properly. We are in shock. A complete shock that makes us mentally idle. We also can't move much right now, because there probably are harmful animals over here. We have seen those signs in many places along the way. All we can do now is just stand still, keep ourselves calm, and bring back that mind that's currently lost. Fear makes us someone else, whom we don't want to be. Without conquering that fear, there is no way forward. That's why we take time to get over that fear and bring back awareness. Call that hostel owner and ask for help. Fortunately, he figured out we were in big trouble right now, explained the correct way forward, and also sent someone as a guide. Thanks to him, we reach the accommodation alive. To more adventures. To more experiences! But we need a deep sleep immediately to get out fully from the shock :) 

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