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Published: June 27th 2013
Our first trip to Kalimpong was on our way back from Gangtok and we were there for a very short while, only a night. We reached Kalimpong and the climb up is green and picturesque. We checked into the Silver oaks hotel and it's a very well maintained and lavish property. My best friend knows the owner of these Elgin Hotels, he is a member of the Oberoi family and runs a chain of hotels independently. The dining room has wooden floors and is a remnant of the elegant days of dining of the Raj. the lobby is richly decorated and our bedroom overlooks the mountains and has these beautiful bay windows.We booked a car and set off to see some of the sightseeing spots, of mention is the cactus farm, the Budhha statue and climb up-to the Government hotel, a drive through the mall and a lodge. the hotel grounds are beautifully landscaped and one can see the Kalimpong town in the distance and watch the rain come in. From a stall at the mall I picked up a miniature Tibetan statue and a pair of blue and red coral earrings I cherish very much. The fact that I can
pay for my own share of the trip post a multinational company position that I hold gives me immense satisfaction.
In the same organisation we have a list of holiday homes to choose from. We decide to go to Kalimpong and stay at the holiday home there. I'm at the head office in Mumbai and still recall calling my dad's friends from the basement before speaking to the travel desk for reserving the holiday home. As a manager I am entitled to two rooms only and I have to rope in the help of my friend and co-worker for booking the remaining two rooms. I call the caretaker and request for an extra bed and some more arrangements in terms of the lunch when we arrive. From Sealdah station we set off for New Jalpaiguri and I have also arranged for our local vendor to assign two air-conditioned cars. There are eight of us in total and we stop for a momos and tea break and then cross the Teesta river on our way to Kalimpong. We arrive at the holiday home and it's a lovely accommodation all for us over the next few days. There is a balcony
overlooking the hills and the view is breathtaking. We order some chai and biscuits and settle in in the cottage. We let one of the cars go and the next day hire a local cab for sightseeing. We also have to intimate the cook about our lunch and dinner orders.
We visit the same cactus farm, lava and lonegao from where the mountains seem so nearby and we pause again for tea and snacks. We also drive through town, visit the same lodge and pass by the same Budha statue to reach the highest point of Kalimpong. Here at the restaurant we have some more tea and as I walk around it's as if we are walking through clouds and can see all the way down the precipice. We also go to see Dr. Graham's home where my aunt teaches but she's travelling at the moment. My uncle joins the party from Geneva, he flies to catch connecting flights and arrives at Bagdogra where we have a car waiting for him. One of the days we have this amazing Tibetan/Bhutanese lunch at a resort. It's a good change from the guest house staple of chicken and dal, roti, sabzi.
On one of our shopping trips my aunt buys a yellow stone necklace for me. I think I picked up some gifts from here, one of them being a Tibetan visiting card holder, very pretty, I still keep my visiting cards in it. We troop to the Silver oaks hotel for tea and it reminds me of the last time we were here. We sign off from the holiday home, its quaintness, the landscaping, the open balcony and the view of the hills and twinkling lights, say goodbye to the obliging staff, visit the caretaker in her exotic farm full of animals and beautiful foliage and start our descent to New Jalpaiguri to catch our train back. I have bitter sweet memories of this trip. On the one hand I am very happy to have organised and partially financed this trip, on the other hand I am subjected to pestering phone calls from a beau and with a mildly heavy heart come back to a flooded city and walk back through waist deep water to reach home. there were some lovely moments, some deep ones and some trivia, my uncles would drink themselves silly on the train journey back and give us much to feel amused about.
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