Sunday, March 1, 2015

Road trip with the bestie

Sonam, younger cousin and I

Kuzuzangpo from warm Phuentsholing! 

For the next two weeks, I will be calling this warm place my home. Thank goodness, I escaped the friggin’ Thimphu cold. This trip came at the perfect time when it coincided with the long holidays. 

To make best use of the long holidays like everyone else my bestie Sonam and I planned a trip to Siliguri, India. I have never been there before. When you have a friend who is as equally dramatic and dysfunctional as you (not all the time though), nothing seems impossible. Our story dates back to high school where we met, clicked and became friends instantaneously. We had to be separated because the two of us were invincible bullies and reunited six years later after university. Thanks to Facebook. 

On 21st February, we were supposed to depart Phuentsholing by 7:30 am but my very punctual aunt dropped us at 6:30 am to the bus stand. The bus stood there looking groggy like me in the early hours of the day. The seats were not very comfortable and we had to squeeze our ways in. It was an old bus and seemed rather tattered. I wondered if it would reach us to our destination. 

“Why are the concerned authority least bothered about the condition of the public transport?” I asked the very bored guy behind the ticket counter, rather curiously. 

He didn't even take his eyes off from his ticket register to answer me. I shouldn't bother him this early, I thought and boarded the bus. 

The bus driver looked in his late forties. Clad in a pair of grey cotton trouser and a black sweatshirt he pulled the bus out of the station at twenty minutes past seven. The bus was half empty. 
With due permission from the driver, we chose to sit three rows behind him. I took the window seat. Next to our row sat a rather quiet but good looking and adorable couple. They looked in their early twenties and was well dressed. But they hardly communicated throughout the four and half hour journey. They must have run out of words, I thought. 

Behind us were a group of young boys who were returning to university after their break. A middle-aged man in front of us asked if we are students as well. We rolled our eyes at each other and shook heads in unison. He didn’t ask further. 

As the bus reached Jaigaon, it honked and braked every three seconds. People started streaming in. Soon the bus got crowded with people standing on the alleyway. I shuddered at the thought of this scene in summer. 

The bus sped on and on, on the never ending straight road ahead in the middle of tea estate. Women, carrying bamboo basket and small spade were seen going to work in the tea garden. Some of them were carrying large stack of woods on the bandana tied head and walked well balanced without wavering their head or eyes. Bicycles on the sideways were seen carrying three people. 
The long stretch of road bored me soon, it put me to sleep. 

When I woke up the bus had stopped for a quick lunch. We immediately got out and ordered hot chapati with aloo dam and dhal. The chapatis were taken straight out of the fire and on to our plate. It felt so soft and tender in the mouth when it was rolled with some aloo dam. 
We were told the journey was for approximately six hours. So not to starve midway we asked for an extra plate of dumpling. 

Soon after, the engine roared to life and off we continued on the rest of the journey. The cool breeze seeped in through the window panes as the bus climbed a small hillock and reached a large bridge and a junction. A group of least bothered monkeys were seen playing around. A fresh aroma of roasted corn came from the vendors when the bus stopped for a while at the junction. I wanted to munch on it but the heavy lunch earlier hadn't left me any space. So I resigned to the idea and instead looked away to the green and magnificent river below the bridge. 

From the junction, towards the right was the way to Sikkim. “Love, we should plan another trip towards the right some other time,” Sonam said. I nodded in agreement. In about another half hours’ drive, the bus started stopping midway and people got off. The adorable couple also got off the halfway. The girl looked sick. 

When the bus finally came to the last stop, we were the only passengers left. Reluctantly, we got off too. We were informed that it was 6 hours’ drive and when it was just 4 and half hours’ drive, we couldn't believe it. After confirming with the driver, we got off. 

We asked for a phone booth around to make a quick call to my cousin. A kind rickshaw puller lend me his mobile phone. Afterwards, he said the fare to my cousin’s place was Rs. 400 when asked. Later, we came to know that it was Rs. 30. 

What the Bhutanese normally do is head to KFC. So you can imagine where we had our meals for the rest of the stay. Shopping was so much fun. We shopped around until the shops closed for the night. Sonam said she wanted to ride the rickshaw. But I was worried it would be too much for the poor rickshaw walla judging by Sonam’s size and weight. Nevertheless, we did try with the three of us and paid extra cash. My smart cousin shared the seat with the rickshaw guy facing us while Sonam was all apologies to the rickshaw walla. 
On the way we found out that the rickshaw wallas lives in slums by the river. When the monsoon swells the river in summer, their slums gets washed away leaving those homeless. Life is indeed, difficult. 

If you know, visiting a water kingdom is on my 30 before 30 list. When I knew about the water kingdom in Siliguri, excitement got me thrilled only to learn that it was closed for winter. Disappointment. 

The experience of travelling with your bestie is beyond words. We have so much to talk about that we never run out of words. We used to wake up, eat, sleep, go to school, and share the same bench together in high school. We even used to flunk class together, read novels in study hours together instead of textbooks and used to be called to the principal’s office ‘together’ for mischief. We were like twins. 

Spending time with each other and reliving those memories all over is a treasure. Sonam is now a Lecturer at Samtse College of Education. To this day, when we are together we still behave like that high school kids. She is one of the person with whom I’m most comfortable with and she never fails to amuse me. Friendship is timeless. 

Have you travelled with your bestie? 

Wishing you a lovely week ahead.
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  1. I enjoyed reading this post Rekha! You've written your journey beautifully! Keep writing la! ^^

  2. What could the most wonderful gift in life than best friends, who can read your mind even in silence? I am blessed enough to have to as my bestie. You made our bond much more stronger by gifting me with yet another priceless gift :). I can't thank you enough, lover. And as discussed, we shall go for another long road trip to Sikkim this year.

    P.S: Of all the pictures, you had to upload the one the one where I look as if I will burst :P.

    1. Awwww....

      Whatever is your size, you will always remain beautiful to me :P. Also a gentle reminder for you to start your work out, bawahahaha.


    2. With reminder, I suppose few videos of your fav workout won't discourage me in whatsoever, lover.


  3. Loved the pictures, the first one specifically. And you are too preety aue :) The descriptions are wonderful as well. Great days ahead. Take Care!

    1. Thank you sweets, you're way too kind. The first picture is from my IG. :)

  4. Your writing is so wonderful, thank you for sharing! xo

    1. Thank you so much Jennie May. Your writing is wonderful and inspiring too. Keep sharing.


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