It has only been two days since I left Maplewood, NJ, but what a two days this has been! Never mind the five plus hours to London, the layover at Heathrow, the ten hours to Delhi and the two hours to Bagdogra. Try adding another five hours driving to Gangtok over winding mountain roads that resembled dried river beds, being held up for one hour by a traffic jam (the only stretch of road being resurfaced, so far as I could see) and twenty minutes to let two trains go by, and you can imagine the condition my body was in upon arrival. But I’m not complaining. After only one day of roaming around this hilly town, visiting the Do-Drul Chorten Monastery, and poking around side streets and a main bazaar lining a modern pedestrian mall, my daughters, Cary and Martha, and I were once again immersed in the contradictions of modern India. You could see new buildings going up in rudimentary fashion next to shacks soon to be destroyed. Garbage and debris flowed in the gutters as you looked down several stories between buildings. Music blared, people swarmed in happy crowds, and children in crisp uniforms scampered to school. It is amazing how the cars careen over the hills with no guardrails, no policemen, and no traffic lights, and somehow manage not to run us down or take the sides off their cars.
We also visited the Sikkim Renewable Energy Development Association and learned of their work in solar energy and biogas production and will be visiting a rural biogas digester on our way to the Rumtek Monastery tomorrow.
It’s now Friday night and there’s a band playing down in the street. I won’t tell you it’s in tune, but it sounds as if they’re having fun! They then had a parade with people with placards demonstrating on behalf of the rights of the disabled. That’s the first time I’ve seen this in India. I’ve always felt that the sign of a progressive country is how it treats its people…all of them.
Time to go eat at A Taste of Tibet, and walk up the mountain to our hotel. And go to work on my jet lag. I want to be in good shape for the climb1
It’s great to get back to Asia. There are so many things here that remind me of Myanmar and Ladakh everywhere I look. I feel right at home….