N. E. India – Day 1 – Paro to Kolkata

Sitting here in our rather splendid room, in the legacy tower of our 5 star hotel (LaLit Great Eastern, if you want to look it up) one can’t help pondering on the vicissitudes of life. For a start this morning, Christine had a hot / warm shower and complained that it got rather cool towards the end. I left it for 20 minutes while I packed and then plunged in. The water had clearly come straight down from the snow capped peaks above the hotel. Then I noticed that someone I shared the palatial suite with had turned off the water heater the night before! “I didn’t know what that switch did”. “Then why did you touch it, dearest?” So no shower for me before heading for the airport!

Scroll forward and we arrive in this unashamed luxury and I strip to my birthday suite (try not to imagine it, there’s no point in putting yourself through that much distress) and dive into the shower. I pull every lever, turn every knob, but there is no water. I call down to reception and apparently the main pump has broken and the whole hotel is waterless until it is fixed. A second missed shower!

Then I remembered the man we passed on our way from the airport, bent over a public standpipe in the middle of a busy pavement and street , washing himself down in his boxers. I have now showered in wonderful hot water, with soap and shampoo and conditioner and am now sitting in a leather armchair contemplating a wonderful night’s sleep in a bed with a choice of pillows. I really have no right to complain about a couple of missed showers!

We said goodbye to Sunam and Numgay at the airport. We were so fortunate to have two such excellent guides. The two hour wait for the plane stretched to nearly three as the flight was late coming in. There was then a great deal of confusion as three planes were on the tarmac and boarding, so making sure you got on the right one was something of a lottery. The tannoy was inaudible above the assembled throng and there were no signs, illuminated or otherwise.

We were u0 and down before we knew it and into Indian immigration, very speedily. It did take three officials to sort us out, but eventually we were allowed into the country. Our baggage was looking very lonely in the carousel, as only about 10 of us had disembarked at Kolkata. Onc3 through customs we looked for our rep., but no one offered himself. I ph9ned the local contact who assured me the rep. was waiting outside. We stepped into the 35C air and there he was. Although it was about 12.30, rush hour seemed to be still going on. We edged our way towards the hotel, the driver and rep. vying with each other to point out significant landmarks.

Our hotel is unbelievably posh, as are the prices. Two cups of tea and some goats’ cheese bruschetta set us back nearly £13! Still, we are on holiday, but from what I’m not quite sure! We met up with everyone in the tea lounge where a delightful and very patient guide gave us a brief history of Kolkata. Poor man had to compete with a variety of styles of music played over the lounge’s speakers, which apparently could not be turned down. He did very well, all things considered.

Dinner at 7.00, then a tour of major colonial sites tomorrow morning. Until then I shall luxuriate – perhaps another shower while the going’s good?!

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