India. Incredible India! When we embarked on our first six month-long visit to India in 2017 it was, admittedly, with some trepidation. Based on lots of feedback and reading we were doing “the hard global travel one” now while we were still ‘teen elders’ — at the time Paul was age 58; Rich was age 65. With 1.3 billion blessed citizens (going on 1.5) in an area generally about a third the size of continental North America we were prepared to be jostled around a bit. In our experience, relatively fewer North Americans seem to venture to India. The feedback we heard was mixed.
But the draw we felt to India was life-long and unstoppable. Gandhi, Buddha, E.M Forester, Ganesh, Shiva — it’s an ancient, superlative and complex culture. And the modern, 21st century descriptives are just as engaging. For example…As a foreigner, using my smartphone, I can book a train ticket to anywhere in the country up to four months in advance using my credit card with great ease. Just show the conductor the digital boarding pass.
And you are just as likely to meet a young Indian man just back from an elite university in Boston, or one who commutes many kilometers to his call-center job in a nearby city or one embarking on a better job in Dubai as you are someone in a fourth-generation run shop who has never left his home State. Much to our delight we discovered “wows!” around every corner.
Yes, we were jostled a bit on our 2017 visit but were far more often royally welcomed, warmly embraced, downright pampered and — again — wowed like no place we’ve ever been! Ever. Six months wasn’t nearly enough. (We travel slowly.) More please.
So the Fall of 2019 brings us back to India. We gave ourselves three more months exploring destinations we missed the first time. (See our 2019 India travel map.) Starting in northeast India, we spend the month of September in Darjeeling, West Bengal. The beloved UNESCO heritage Darjeeling Himalayan Railway runs several times a day directly in front of our house. The video below was taken from our house.
See our Northeast India page for more adventures, including information about our accommodations, in North Bengal, Sikkim and the “seven sister” States of Assam and Meghalaya.