It’s been a couple of weeks since I got back from Darjeeling and to be honest, work has been a bit mucky… sometimes, easy and plain sailing, sometimes, bogging me down. I’ve been over to Kolkata and Bangalore with work since Darjeeling, and I now have seven days in Mumbai, in a row… I can’t quite remember when the last time that was!!
Anyways, the remainder of my time in Darjeeling saw me pass the time doing most of the touristy things. For example, I took the Toy Train ride to Grum (or Groom) on a steam powered train. The journey took about 45 minutes, including a stop at the Ghurkha National Memorial. It was a pleasant way to travel, although like most Indian drivers, they were a bit fond of the whistle / horn!!
During the evening, I met up with some interesting people who mostly resided in Mumbai. An American couple, from Washington, with their daughter and Son-in-Law (the younger gen live in Mumbai) and a Welsh American (i.e. born & raised outside Cardiff, now a nationalised American). It was quite entertaining learning about their view points and sharing experiences of travel and just life in general – and of course, experiences of Darjeeling!!
On the Saturday, I went to the Happy Valley Tea Factory, where I learnt about the process involved in creating Tea… basically, a bit of time, a bit of cold air and a bit of hot air, and a good old fashioned roasting… all very simple really. As it happens, there are two reasons why I was very interested in Happy Valley. Firstly, they are the official supplier to Harrods of London for Black & Green Darjeeling Tea. Secondly, their machinery (mostly pre 1900 kit) included a machine built by Sirocco Works, Belfast!!
After that, I headed for the Zoo in Darjeeling, which I have to say was much better than I was expecting. The conditions were pretty good looking from the public perspective, and the array of animals was quite good too… from Black Bears, to Red Pandas to a Siberian Tiger (which was huge!!). Disappointingly, the Yak enclosure allowed the animal to hide from the viewing deck… so I didn’t see one.
Having spent the day in glorious sunshine, I decided that a wee rest and a then a dander before afternoon tea was in order, so I saw about the town a wee bit, before dinner with the guys I’d met the evening before. On the Sunday I travelled home, and the drive down the mountain was incredible. The views were simply something to behold… although again, the road wasn’t massively comfortable.
Since then, apart from having a bit more enhanced wanderlust, it’s been pretty quite outside of work. I do however, now have a Surround Sound system in the flat following a raid on our empty apartment a few floors down… and it’s some job and worth the cost (i.e. nada). The way the noise comes at you from four angles, and the base notes also incredible… when watching an episode of 24, the gunfire coming over your shoulder was class!!
Should keep me occupied over the next few days at least…