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Wednesday 24th November - Darjeeling to Kanpur
By Claire
Monday, 29th November 2004 11:06

Our car picked us up at 8am and drove us down the hill to catch the train. It was sad to leave, and before we went, the owner of the hotel came out and gave us some Tibetan silk scarves with good luck symbols all over them. All our bags were carried down the stairs for us too. The drive was very nice, and we saw a lot of the countryside as the sun came up. It began to get warmer as we descended, and when we stopped for Tassy to get some tea, it was hot enough to take my fleece off. I fed a very thin dog a biscuit, too, but quietly so that no-one would get upset. The road down to Siliguri was very steep and windy, with hairpin bends for most of it. The air smelled of that slightly metallic tang that tea plantations have. Near the bottom, we drove for miles through dense, flat fields of tea. The bushes were so tightly packed together, and so neat and well-kept that the plantations looked like manicured English lawns. The effect was increased with the tall deciduous trees dotted around like a country estate. It was ruined a bit by the tea pickers in saris, with huge baskets hanging from straps round their foreheads, but it was idylic. In fact, tea-picking looked like a wonderful job until you think about how hard you have to work for so little.

At Bagdogba airport, we stopped and Tassy started unloading our bags. We looked at one another, looked at him, and decided that we were in the wrong place. He was told to bring us here, we needed to go to the station about ten miles down the road. It was ten very congested miles, though, and we were well and truely back in India. There were rickshaws and autos and bikes and horns and cows, dogs and pigs in the streets. The air was thick with dust, fumes and blaring hooters and the traffic wove mad patterns through itself. I missed the calm of Tibetan Darjeeling. But we made it to the station, we lugged all our bags to the platform, Mikey tried one last attempt to buy a ticket from Kanpur to Agra but didn't get as far as the queue cos it stretched out into the street, and we sat in the waiting room for a while until the train arrived, on time, at 12.40.

We had side seats, which I prefered because we were on our own, the bunks lengthways down the train, and we started on the sandwiches and packed lunch things that the hotel had made for us. Once we'd finished, a train man came along and offered us lunch, which was two curries, a bowl of rice, several chapatis and a small container of some sort of set milk or yoghurt. I really wasn't hungry, but Mikey said it was good. By 3pm I climbed up to my bunk, and by 7pm I'd taken my magic fizzy-good migraine tablet and was fast asleep.

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