BPD: Culmination at Kolkata

(BPD: Culmination at Kolkata, 2–3 May ‘15)

Starting from the Bhutanese border of Phuentsholing on the 2nd May, I was headed towards Kolkata for the last leg of my journey that I had booked from Kolkata to Hyderabad, for the Sunday night. The journey from Phuentsholing to Siliguri takes about 4 hours, and its best to take the Bhutan bus that makes several scheduled trips in a day between these 2 places. Getting a little lazy to do pre-bookings and not wanting to block a time for departure, I decided to take the Indian buses and/or shared-taxis. This became yet another break journey with multiple stops and ended up taking over 6 hours on the whole. The route taken was Phuentsholing- Jaigaon- Hashimara- Birpara- Lataguri- Siliguri.

From Siliguri, I had booked a Volvo bus for the overnight journey to Kolkata. Climbing in, I was greeted at my seat in the bus by some mellowed barks and I was pleasantly surprised to find a 50-day old German Shepherd as my next seat companion! The interesting set of travel partners continued through the trip. Accompanying her was a dog-fanatic, who had just bought her at Siliguri from a dealer to add to his family of 2 other dogs, a wife and parents. He gave me a low-down of the dog breeds and how easy it is to adopt most of them and what little maintenance they can demand, from a first-timer like me.

Just as I was about to fall asleep, this last booking for a ‘comfortable’, event-less travel was meant to end up with some trouble. Interestingly, throughout the trip, I had absolutely no problems with any of the travel in shared modes by shared-taxi, auto, local bus and the like throughout Darjeeling, Sikkim and Bhutan. Starting with a list of issues in the Volvo bus like leaking and malfunctioning AC, a faulty battery, insensitive driver, and a bus in such a bad condition that it wouldn’t start after dinner break without being pushed by the passengers! The extremely bad condition of the roads didn’t help either and after long delays of over 4 hours and a mini-revolt by all the passengers, the bus finally reached Kolkata by 12 noon. Shaken and dust-gathered, I got out of the bus to the sweltering summer weather of Kolkata. Perhaps, this contrasting scenario was a gentle, yet final reminder of how well things had panned throughout my 2-week trip, for which I had to be thankful!

At Kolkata, I was getting reunited with Premjit, the buddy from college and the star of our famous Agra trip! I had a great time at his place with his family and particularly his 6-month boy, the ever-adorable Baby Bang. I was treated to a sumptuous lunch of Chelo Kababs at the famed heritage restaurant, Peter Cat at Park Street, and topped up with a masala chai at a Dhaabha nearby. Catching up with stories from the college and experiences from the company he had founded, we severely ran short of time. After the good, short stop for the evening, I got a ride to the airport to complete my return journey.

Chelo Kabab at Peter Cat (Pic source: tripadvisor)

Landing in Hyderabad, and walking towards the exit, I was welled with a range of intense emotions from the great travel experiences, amazing variety of places seen, wonderful friends made for life and the humbling learnings from the 16-day backpacking trip. I promised myself to complete writing the experiences with a picture-blog, internalize the learnings as part of my day-to-day activities and get back on the travel circuit soon!

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