My First Long Trip to India (7) – the Final Installment!

It was much warmer down in Kalimpong. Indeed, I would be inclined to describe it as hot, although I have no doubt that most Indians would say ‘Pah! You think that’s hot?’ Possibly I wouldn’t think so either, if I had just come up from the plains, but coming from Sikkim, it definitely felt hot.

The first morning, as soon as I had finished breakfast, I took a long, hot, but extremely beautiful walk up hill through mixed forest to the Durpin Gompa, or, as it’s properly called, the Zang Dog Palri Fo Brang Monastery. It was a morning of flowers, trees, sunshine and butterflies, and for some reason I felt especially euphoric.




The road to the monastery runs through an army checkpoint and lots of army land, and from the checkpoint I was helpfully taken partway by an extremely polite and friendly redcap and shown the correct junction. As I continued my walk, I was passed by a number of soldiers who all smiled and wished me a good morning. It was slightly unnerving, since most soldiers I had come across before had tended to adopt their special stern and unfriendly faces for me as soon as I neared them.

Later, on the way back from the monastery, I was stopped at the same checkpoint by a soldier who decided that he wanted to chat. So for some ten minutes or so, I was standing there, with him holding my hand and asking me where I came from and about my family and what I thought of India and yet, after two months in India, it all seemed entirely natural.


What else did I do in Kalimpong? Well, I virtually overdosed on lassis, especially mango lassis. The fancy just took me.

I had a haircut.

I got some of my films developed. There was no real reason why I should, but I felt impatient and for some reason wanted to look at the ones I had taken of Bodhgaya.

I watched the last of the India / Pakistan cricket series on the TV. India won the test series as well as the ODI’s. It seemed that the whole series had been played in a fantastic spirit, and I found myself hoping that this might, in some small way, lead to improved relations between the two countries.

But I feared that I was being hopelessly naïve.

I looked around the market, which was fun – as it usually is in India. And I took a number of photos. And here I must admit to a strong loathing of the tourists and travellers that shove a camera lens in someone’s face and take a picture, totally oblivious of any offence they may cause. You see it so often. And I think it is so often a kind of western arrogance, an idea that they somehow have a right to do it.

Once, waiting for a flight at Dubai airport, I witnessed two young Japanese tourists who approached an Arab gentleman who was looking splendid in white dishdash and keffiyeh, sitting and drinking coffee. After poking the camera lens into his face and taking a couple of photos, whilst the gentleman sat impassively ignoring this rudeness, the girl had the effrontery to pull a chair right up next to him and lean into him, as the boy continued taking photos.

I cringed. I felt the entire room cringe.

The gentleman concerned drained his cup and slowly stood up, bowed without smiling to the young couple, and walked off.

So I walked around the market stalls, asking people if I could take their photos. Some said no, but most said yes.

market 1


market 2

Late afternoon, and thick cloud was quite literally sitting on the top of Kalimpong. The ground level was warm and dry, whilst the tops of the buildings and trees disappeared into the clouds. I remember seeing this also in Kathmandu, once. It’s a kind of inversion, but I think there’s a special name for it when it occurs in urban areas.

I returned to the plains by share jeep again, and flew back to Delhi the following day.

Delhi felt very different to how it had felt a couple of months before – much hotter, now, and the lighter evenings gave it a very different feel, too. Other than buy books and walk around a lot, I didn’t do a great deal with my two days there.

In my mind, I had already left to go home.



38 thoughts on “My First Long Trip to India (7) – the Final Installment!

  1. Nice photos. I’ve been busy traveling myself, so I missed your earlier installments. I’ll check them out. I am only half sorry for the Arab man you mentioned. I was once boarding a plane when an Arab man in front of me pushed me aside to allow his entourage of covered women pass me. I objected and he looked at me and said “ladies first.” The rudeness goes both ways, but a camera in the face is always rude.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you. Yes, I’ve noticed you’ve been busy! Indeed, you can encounter rudeness from anyone, of any race, but it never excuses it from another, of course. I was particularly struck by the dignity of the gentleman that I observed. Had it been me, I’m sure that I would have lost my temper.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A lovely farewell post! Beautiful thoughtful photos – everything is so colourful. I recently saw two monks standing serenely in a queue at London airport with us all when suddenly two tourists started taking photos of them. The effrontery! I felt everyone shudder and thought someone might punch them. All the time the monks calmly carried on talking ignoring the spectacle unfolding. It is thoughtless and inconsiderate.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you. Yes, it is effrontery. It is as if someone with a camera must have an automatic right to invade someone else’s privacy or personal space. As if their right to take an image that they want overrides everything else.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Peaceful winding down to your journey, Mick (I think I’ve been calling you Mike on my past comments – sorry :-). Love the photos. It’s unfortunate that some photographers don’t ask for permission to take photographs. I think photos are better with willing subjects, in addition to the simple courtesy.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. And now with smart phones, picture taking is way more sneaky. A good reminder indeed, for us to be courteous when recording our adventures. What a good conclusion to your journey! I will add my praise to the others’ for the lovely images and the account!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. You are absolutely right when it comes to taking photographs, Mick. It’s rude to start snapping away at people without asking their permission first. However, the behavior of that couple in the airport went way beyond simple rudeness and entered the realm of utter stupidity. It sounds as though they’d mistaken Dubai for Disneyland.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. One of the reasons nearly all my pictures are landscapes is that I’m shy about even asking people permission for their photos. I need to get over that, I’m missing out on cultural reflections.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m a bit like that, Dave. It took me a while to get up the courage to ask. Perhaps that’s one reason why lots of people only take pictures without asking? It is a good way to get into conversations with people, though, and I do find I enjoy those interactions.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. ?
          Its a great chapter. I am enjoying it. India just seems a vibrancy of colours, doesn’t it? I liked your story about the Japanese in Dubai. I cant say I am surprised. You seem to have travelled wide and far, and explored so many different sub cultures ( as in different, not less!) Strange how you say you had returned in your head towards the end of the holiday. We are often like that aren’t we. Who said, its better to travel than to arrive… the fun is in the expectations.
          More soon, hopefully?

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Thanks, Jackie. Yes, I fell in love with India some while ago, but you knew that already, didn’t you? There will be more, for sure. But it’s probably about time I published something provocative, again, n’est ce pas?

            Liked by 1 person

    1. It did seem a special atmosphere, that year, probably because it was the first time for a while that India and Pakistan had played each other. All that I saw of the matches was played in a great spirit, and all of my Indian friends were full of praise (and some gentle rivalry!) for the Pakistani players. I really did feel hopeful for a while.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Mick. Finally I have finished reading this post. It’s always rude to just click away photos without the permission of the person. Just a word will make them happy rather than make them angry. Good clicks. Delhi is hotter these days. It was a good experience reading through your posts. 😊

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.