Thursday, May 1, 2008

Greetings from sunny Darjeeling!

Just kidding, it's actually a dank fog-pit with no running water.

Alright, just kidding again, it's not that bad.* But we are surrounded my cloud, which makes it a little hard to tell you what Darjeeling looks like since we haven't actually, really, totally seen it. From the 20-feet at a time that I can see, it looks pretty nice. One half European ski village, one half Nepalese market place.

Again I seem to have ended up with more stuff on my mind that I have time or space to sort it out in. Also I spent like a half hour emailing Cindy, another 20 minutes on facebook, and this internet ain't free. So, quickly:

There is a burgeoning separatist movement in the greater Darjeeling area, wanting to become a separate state (possibly a separate nation... I'm just learning about this now) from West Bengal. I won't even pretend to know the history behind it, but I will say this: there's a pretty clear ethnic difference in the population of this area vs. the rest of West Bengal. Darjeeling feels totally different than the rest of India, which probably comes from its huge Tibetan and Nepalese (Nepali? God, that's embarassing...) population. Names here sound like "Kalimpong." Names in the south of the state sound like "Howrah" and "Malda." This morning, during our breakfast in a hotel restaurant, the owner of the establishment got everyone's attention and told us - loudly - about the blasphemes of a Calcuttan minister who'd just published an article in a major newspaper (government officials in this country seem to have unlimited access to publication in the major media outlegs) about how the Darjeeling separatists are wreaking havoc on the region, with strikes and violence everywhere, and warning tourists not to go there. He asked us to tell other tourists we meet what we've seen here - that there is no violence, that there are small strikes but nothing that stops the tourist trade. Completely surreal. We leave tomorrow morning for our 5-day trek along the Singalila Ridge, but we're supposed to have one more day in Darjeeling afterwards, for recovery. I'm hoping to use that day to figure out what the hell is going on here. Suspect it will take longer than that.

So tomorrow is day 1 of the trek. Day 1 involves 14km of hiking with a total ascent of about 1k. The next day is... well, one day at a time. How about that?

Bengali food is freaking amazing. A-mazing. Too bad our only stops in West Bengal were Calcutta (oops, Kolkata) and here. Tibetan food, apparently, is also incredible. Which brings me to my next point:

Dharamsala arrival countdown: 19 days!

Which brings me to my final point:

It's May! Wish me a Happy Actually Finding Out About Law School Month (Well, At Least York, But Really Who Cares About McGill Anyway, If They're Going To Be Jerks Like That)!

Gonna have to find a snappy acronym for that. Who's for tea?

* It really is dank, though. That part's true. Oh, and about the lack of running water.


Anonymous said...

We're just totally enjoying your blogs - the descriptions and your interesting way of using the English language. We are mesmerized and totally caught up in reading about your trip. We received your postcard yesterday. Thanks. Will keep on praying for a positive answer re school. We'll talk about SPP this summer - a huge pet peeve of mine. Take care. Love you Grandma

M. said...

Looking forward to it! Amazing how I managed to get through an entire minor in Canadian Politics without ever hearing the term. One more point for McGill U.