I'm here!! And with surprisingly little trouble to speak of :). When I saw the amount of havoc being wreaked all over Kolkata in the name of the 'bandh' this morning, I was quite genuinely worried! I was even fully prepared to walk all the way to the airport if necessary, but ended up getting a ride. I heard later that things got much worse after I left!It took a little while, but I managed to eventually get a car all the way from Bagdogra airport near Siliguri to Maneybhanjang, my first night stop. Barring the blown tyre within the first half hour of the 3 1/2 hour drive, it was pretty awesome :).The expanses of tea gardens all around started in the plains and followed us up the hillsides. As we crept higher and higher the mid afternoon warmth steadily faded till a damp chilly fog hid the splendour of the hills even before the early dusk. Oh! And I saw a young leopard as it streaked across the road after giving us a cursory glare! There are cats, and then there are cats :).
By the time I reached Maneybhanjang, it was well and truly night, but I had little trouble locating 'Masterji' - the teacher/hotel owner/trek organiser on whom I was pinning all my hopes :). I was quite happy to see the power socket in my room. But just then, the lights went out :|. No matter, seeing how the only electronics I'm carrying are the cameras, which I have spare batteries for, and the phone, which I will switch off from tomorrow as we head further into the hills, I'm in no desperate need for power.Did I mention? I went past a border check point a few miles before arriving here, so I'm supposedly in Nepal. Or more accurately, sort of between India and Nepal. Tomorrow I will meet my guide for the next 6 days and head to Tumling, which is in Nepal :).
After the homely dinner at my host's table (that I found thoroughly awesome, familiar as I have become with the impersonal hotels and restaurants of this world) I've now resorted to candle light. And since I have the time and nothing else to do, I figured I'd make use of the notebook and pen I'd brought along. What remains to be seen is, once the trekking begins tomorrow, if I'll be able to keep it up instead of collapsing on some bed or into my sleeping bag the first chance I get :D.
Currently: more relieved than anything else :)
Listening to: sporadic barks from the street below