Why proximity? Well, apart from the mellifluous sound of the word, it rather understatedly describes the toy train from Darjeeling to Kurseong and it’s scenery.
Last time I talked about Darjeeling and it’s undeniable cliche-factor. Well, I went one up – the toy train. I booked a 1st class seat because I wanted to make sure I got not just a seat but a window. I am so glad I did. 144 rupees is a bargain in my book. It’s a three hour trip, slow and meandering down the mountainside, past sublimely breathtaking scenery. Dramatic plunges of hills, snow-draped Himalayas, lush fernery, roadside temples and prayer flags, shops and houses literally inches away – yes, inches – there were tree branches being snapped off and falling into my lap. I have footage (thankyou Norman, the camera is superb!). It made me giddy like a schoolboy, I am not ashamed to admit. The carriage itself is just three seats and an aisle wide, with detailed pressed-tin inlay ceilings and rickety fixtures. We all have our windows open and our beanies and scarves on tight.
That’s it for this post. I’m in a beautiful small town called Mirik, but it has dreadfully unreliable internet access. Next time, the run-down on my time in Kurseong – the prison-cell-like hotel room, the aggressively friendly local improv tour-guide, monkeys, and more (really?!) mountain views!
The one other thing I’ll just slip in is that I’ve really felt poetry starting to come out so cleanly and freely recently. At first, the words were frozen in a kind of shock, I guess. India is, in a way, indescribable. Not in an “Incredible India” tourism campaign type way, but just monumentally complex and confounding, full of facets that you just don’t expect to harmonise, but of course they do. Anyway, I’m beginning to write more, make attempts to approach the indescribable…. a bit like this, but with line breaks, and able to be shaped into ghazals!
Oh, yeah, and Merry Xmas, internet people! Today, I strolled around two Hindu temples, one on a tiny island in the middle of a lake, and felt a tear of uncanny sublime resonance lodge in my chest…. and later, gorged myself on mushroom butter masala, an 8% Sikkimese beer called “He-Man”, and assorted mithai!