Field Note: Environment
A small tidbit first:
I took a trip to the mountain town of Darjeeling in the Indian state of West Bengal, which happens to be located on the northeast edge of the country. It’s known for its vast tea fields and lovely scenery of the Himalayan Mountains. The mountain tops are scattered with the homes of people from the locals as well as those from Nepal and Tibet. The weather is cool and the air is fresh.
Have you ever seen the film Darjeeling Limited by Wes Anderson? It’s a great film about three brothers who set out to India on a bonding adventure. I had watched this film before I left India thinking that if I were to visit Darjeeling I would definitely be going on the train that was so famous in the movie. I fantasized about it and romanticized the town of Darjeeling in my mind as a mysterious place where temples, people, and stray monkeys resided. Needless to say, my preconceived notions of the place were quite skewed by the film. When I actually traveled to Darjeeling it was unlike anything I had ever seen and nothing like what I thought it would be—it exceeded anything I had imagined.
To get to Darjeeling you must take a jeep that drives you about an hour or so through mountainous and curvy roads. Since the town is located on the peaks of mountains, it takes quite a while to get there but the drive is worth it. Outside your window you’ll see lush trees and foggy clouds hanging over the cliff side. The journey to Darjeeling was probably the most precarious (due to bumby roads) but also the most beautiful I been on. When we arrived I couldn’t believe how wonderful the town was. Houses were on the edges of the mountains; the roads were winding and forked into small alleyways. People were making their morning strolls, the storekeepers were opening their shops, and cars were slowly meandering through the narrow streets. The buzz of the town was lively but not frighteningly noisy. What I was seeing before my eyes was a different type of movie, a movie that was much better than what I saw in Darjeeling Limited.
Since the weather is so cool, Darjeeling is a perfect area to grow tea, which is what it is known for. Walking through the streets you won’t miss any number of shops that sell Darjeeling tea, tea, which has just been freshly plucked. The fresher the tea, the better tasting tea you will get. While looking at all the tea fields a few friends of mine decided to go on a trek up the mountains surrounding the town. This is when we saw the beautiful view of the flora around and at one point there was a small stop were colorful prayer flags (from Buddhist religion) hung from the edges of the mountains.
Everything that I had seen exceeded my expectations and was far more wonderful than imaginable. From the townspeople to the environment, Darjeeling is definitely one of the most amazing places I traveled to in India.