|Hot chocolate at Keventers Darjeeling|
The sky is overcast and the clouds are all around me. As I stir my cup of hot chocolate listlessly, I stare into the gloomy horizon, where the darkness prevails. My notebook is open in front of me, the blank page staring back, challenging me to add ink, fill it up with words, that which makes no sense to me somewhat.
I have become maudlin, but that is the gloom speaking, I guess. At Keventer’s Darjeeling, there is little activity, and it is drizzling lightly as I see the clouds move closer, painting the houses and the mountains a thick, bleary grey. The hot chocolate at Keventer’s needs to be stirred well, in order to mix in the powdered cocoa-sugar mixture with the steaming milk. Many people do not know this, and thus, one girl makes a face right across me, and says, “I thought it would be sweeter.” I think about telling her to stir the chocolate, then decide otherwise. Who am I to make her decisions?
|Planter’s Club, Darjeeling|
There is a general sense of anxiety around me as the drizzle turns into fat raindrops. I watch as the Bengali couple near me runs back to secure the last empty table inside, and draining my cup of chocolate quickly, I decide to follow suit as my server comes out to wave us all in. I am done with my breakfast already, so I decide to head over to the mall, because the rain is making me want to hum.
I walk by Planter’s club, passing Glenary’s and the temptation of the Cheese Pie within, and walk over to the mall. It is cold, and most people have decided to take shelter. The rain here starts quickly and unexpectedly, and ends the same way. As I take the route to the Mahakal Mandir, the rain again returns back to a drizzle, and then slowly ends. I am thankful to R and S who told me to carry an umbrella, the one essential thing you must carry during the rains, and the rubber shoes, which make me relatively rain-friendly.
|Darjeeling Mall Road Walk|
The rain doesn’t bother the locals. Brisk business continue under the shade of tarpaulin at the market. I buy a wooly cap from an old man, bargaining quickly, and purchase it after a brief tussle. The man smiles at me when I put it in my bag, and then move ahead, walking past the funky ear muffs and the Goth bracelets. There are roads going down to private houses and bungalows, but I am more interested in moving further. So, I continue my walk up the lane, crossing the path which leads up to the temple, and move to the shaded seats, designed for relaxing and watching the breathtaking beauty of the mountains. On my way, I spot a single bee on top of a leaf, lording over all that she sees.
|bee on top of a leaf|
I whip out my camera and take a couple of quick shots. She sits there, waiting for me to finish clicking before buzzing off. Weirdly enough, the rain hasn’t touched the leaf or the tree, thanks to the shady overhang. A mix of deciduous and coniferous flora, Darjeeling faces far less landslides because of the intense undergrowth, apart from the huge pines and firs that is spread out across the district.
A young woman sits in front of the shaded seating area, selling tea, and her children run and play around her. The cloud has made it impossible for one to see anything. This time, I glumly realize that I shall miss watching my beloved Kanchenjunga, but well, I did take my chances, coming here during the monsoons.
|girl playing in a puddle|
The little girl plays in the puddle the moment her mother looks around, splashing around while her big brother complains to her mother, with all the glee that an older sibling can muster when he knows he has the upper hand. The girl is berated immediately, sharp words are exchanged, and the girl runs off to the edge of the path, but, within the next few minutes, she is back, splashing around, and the process repeats.
I decide to walk up to the Mahakal temple, and the steps are at first easy. Soon enough, if you are walking briskly, like me, you might feel slightly out of breath, and therefore, might sit down, and watch the monkeys.
A word of caution about the monkeys. They are easy to anger, easy to please. Don’t try to take selfies with them, or you might be slapped, and your beloved phone might be snatched away by one of them.
True story. I won’t tell who, though.
|Mother monkey with baby|
I find monkeys fascinating. It might be because I was bitten by one at the age of three. Here, the mother keeps looking away, but the baby is quite active and willing to be distracted. As I walk back, the baby looks at me curiously while the mother hurriedly turns away, probably to protect her precious baby from the monstrous me. Mothers, I tell you!
I catch myself humming a line from a song I have heard years ago, as I walk back to my hotel. The lyrics are forgotten mostly, but I make up for it, creating my own lines as I walk down the path while the fog thickens and blurs the road ahead.