I had a plan once I decided I would do the Sandakphu trek, I would backpack to Meghalaya right after that.
How and why Meghalaya came into my plan of travel, I really don’t know. It was my first trip ever to that side of the country, everything would be a first time whether it was Calcutta,New Jalpaiguri, Guwahati or Meghalaya.
My post fever zero energy and sore throat was still keeping me low yet as I packed I could feel that same sense of excitement, butterflies in my stomach as I made my flight to Calcutta but before that was the whatsapp group created for the trek.
I joined a few days before the trek with trepidation. Maybe it was a case of been there done that time and again, finally I relented and introduced myself, a solo trekker and bingo came in a prompt response from a gal Priyanka, a solo like me and from Calcutta. We communicated politely to each other and lucky enough she was taking a train too, from Sealdah station to NJP one hour earlier than me. Little did I know how close we would become in the next few days.
As I landed in Calcutta, Priyanka protectively kept in touch throughout until I reached Sealdah station. And there she was waving and smiling as I rushed towards her. Her train would leave in a few minutes and she wanted to make sure we met.
She introduced me to her friend Shiladitya who would give me company and show me places to eat at the station. The thoughtfulness of what she did struck me. She didn’t know me and she had the big heart to do this.
We bid each other goodbye and we would meet in the morning at NJP for our pick up to base camp.
Shiladitya was great company as he spoke of his life, his career, his mother and the loss of his father. Him being an only child like me, I could relate to what he was going through. The guy hung out with me till my train arrived at 11 pm and it would take him atleast an hour to get back home.
Gestures of kindness makes you believe in the core of humanity that inspite of today’s fast paced world, there are people out there who genuinely care, that look beyond themselves.
Once I got into the train meandering my way to my berth I saw a pretty young woman travelling with her parents.
Her name was Indrani, we started talking relating stories of travels and she showed me the pictures she clicked on her phone, of Northern Sikkim, of nature, of everyday life and I was amazed. Here was one hell of a talented girl and not using photo filters but truly had the eye and could be one amazing photographer if she were to find that as her calling and I told her that.
She inspired me so much to travel to Sikkim with her pics and hitherto unknown places I wouldn’t have thought of. So yes Indrani, you did make an impression if you are reading this.
And just like that when you feel you have good co-passengers balance happens! Right then walked in a young Marwadi couple with their temperamental toddler and 20 pieces of heavy luggage to fill an entire compartment!
The way they shoved pulled pushed grunted and tossed others luggage to accommodate others was unbelievable and totally guilt free!
At one point we thought we might get ousted from our berths to accommodate their luggage. Indrani’s dad made a smart comment saying You guys have caused a loss of 15,000 Rs to Indian Railways with your luggage. But knowing our countrymen and them turning deaf ears when it suits them, the gentleman kept shoving baggages one after the other 😊
Indrani and me exchanged knowing glances and smiled. What can one do? This is India meri Jaan!
I crashed on my lower side berth( and I truly thank Indian Railways for this!) I woke up to an early morning call from Priyanka. She was reaching the station and assuring me that she would tell the pick up driver about the delay in my train timings. It was winter and winter fog train delays were common in this part of the country.
Saying goodbye to Indrani and her parents I made my way to the exit. We had exchanged numbers and I knew she was one gal I will be in touch with.
Ignoring the influx of messages on whatsapp group I went towards the exit and there they were sitting on the steps, all four of them..
Priyanka, Kinshuk,Darshan and Saikat. I don’t know how to describe this but my instinctive feeling was comfort and feeling secure seeing them. They were solo trekkers like me and yet it felt more than that. Kindred spirits maybe? And here we were bundled up together in a jeep on a 6-7 hour journey to the base camp Jaubhari.
There would be more people, more situations and more learnings…
To be continued tomorrow 😊