Saturday, May 28, 2005

on top of the world, hands to the sky

i boarded my flight at 9:00 p.m. on may 23rd. lufthansa, typical german efficiency all the way down to the no nonsense attitude and grim faces of the flight attendants. if they weren't bringing me free beers and peanuts i'd be worried that they were going to throw me in the ka-be. the flight proved to frankfort proved tremendously boring, 9 hours of listening to my i-pod and squirming around uncomfortably in the 2x4 box they call economy class seating, which for someone who stands 6'2" is no easy feat. i woke up intermittently throughout the flight, whether it be from lack of comfort or the constant peppering of questions from the video game designer from dallas who sat next to me (all 280lbs of him..my luck could only have been worse if he'd decided to eat me for dinner instead of the prepackaged inflight meal.) a rough landing in frankfort had me sweating and nauseous and i kissed the ground of the tarmac as soon as i set foot on it.
my next flight left 45min. later so i hightailed it to the departure gate (which luckily, was only 5 gates down from where i arrived.) and popped two dramamine. ten minutes into the flight, no more nausea and no more consciousness. i woke up with one hour left of the nine hour flight to delhi and an empty stomach. i managed to keep down some form of german pastry (for the cooking they are definitely not world renowned) and exited the plane into the hot delhi night. the temperature outside topped 93 degrees at 12:15 a.m. 12:15 a.m.!!! i forgot how much life this kind of heat can eat right out of you.
instead of spending 10 hours in the delhi international terminal waiting for my next flight to bagdogara and my uncle's tea gardens, the family of my father's best friend were kind enough to allow me to sleep, shower, and eat breakfast at their home before i left for my next flight.
at 10:10 a.m. i boarded my final flight and landed in bagdogara (nausea again) at 1:00 pm. both my grandfather and uncle (aruna's brother) were there to greet me and it was a welcome sight. as most of you know, being alone is not one of my strong points and i hadn't had a chance to run my mouth for over 28 hours and it felt nice to be around family. my uncle's gone grey around the edges, but still carries himself with the same dignity and pride that i remember so well. my grandfather is also no exception and aside from his advancing years which have brought about a slight hesitance in his gait, he still radiated wisdom and kindness.
large banyan trees and acres upon acres of tea plants pepper the west bengal countryside. in the distance the himalayas cast their endless shadow over the state, snowcapped peaks visible above swirling monsoon clouds. the people of west bengal are mostly of mixed descent, nepalese and indian combined to create darkskinned people with distinctly asian features. my uncle manages over 2500 acres of tea garden, and they are tended by these people who have lived on this land for centuries. their knowledge of the soil, planting cycles, and weather patterns is unequaled and the success of the goodricke's tea company is dependent and almost wholly due to their aptitude.
civilizationi has yet to make a distinct mark on this region of india, with most people still living subsistence farming lives and the towns not yet runnover with pollution and modern filth. luckily coca-cola and cable tv have found their way to this remote outpost so i don't feel completely lost. the first few days in the garden were spent recovering from jet lag (which didn't take too great a toll on me) and spending time with my two cousins who were only 8 and 10 the last time i saw them. both are now handsome young men who for some reason have a penchant for heavy metal music. one thing i'll never understand is how heavy metal managed to retain its popularity in india while becoming a subgenre throughout the rest of the world. so i spend a few hours each day playing them songs from my i-pod and hoping i can turn them on to some different sounds before i leave.
this saturday we made the 3 hour drive to darjeeling, a mountain outpost that is the closest city to the peak of mt. everest. over the years darjeeling hosts thousands of tourists, many of them european and american, and this time of year is no exception. i will probably see more white faces here than i will anywhere else in india (not that it's a bad thing...we all know what happened the last time there were too many white people here.) the city is set on a mountainside and if you look to the east you can see everest's magnificient peak peering down on the rest of the world. i've never felt so awestruck and insignificant in my life. in the morning's you wake up in the clouds, not in fog, but literally in the clouds. as the sun shines, much of it is burnt away and you can see down almost 10,000 feet to the river valley below. homes and more tea gardens dot the mountainside and you can see how civilization finds its way even to the most remote parts of the earth (including the internet, as i'm writing this post while looking out over the nepalese side of the himalayan range.) the majesty of the mountains though, remains the most remarkable aspect of this visit.

-krishna "tenzing norgay" thinakkal

p.s. i will post pictures once i get to bangalore and can get my hands on a high-speed internet connection. while progress has crawled its way up the mountain, its still moving at dial-up speed.

5 Comments:

Blogger Riggsy23 said...

Weird. Total Weirdness. While reading your blog, I had CBS Sunday Morning on the in the background. Turns out, their Almanac story for Sunday May 29th touched on the first people to ever reach the top of Mount Everest: A British man who loves the Nepalese people and his guide/ friend Tenzing Norgay.Krishna, please stop with your alarmingly parallel posts with CBS.
We're looking forward to more updates.-- Kristen

7:24 AM  
Blogger Albers said...

nickles, my bengal-bound brother...

please do continue to give us updates and stories.

please also hug a sherpa for me if at all possible. tell him that there's a lanky boy with bad posture back in america who respects him and thinks he's wikkid strong. and buy him a beer (or whatever it is they drink to stay warm up there) if you get a chance. I promise I'll get you back.

7:00 PM  
Blogger Mackenzie said...

Krishna,
How completely and utterly jilus (yea, that's jilus) I am of you! It already sounds like an adventure worth all the trouble of the 18-plus hour flight. Take many pictures for me because you know I loooooove to share pics! Can't wait to hear more! And jesus, can you believe that we really graduated!?

8:06 PM  
Blogger Rory said...

Unkut-

I'm with Albers on this--sherpas need hugs too. If you could get some pics up here, that would be great (don't know if they allow that type of thing at internet cafes). Drink some orange pekoe for me!

10:48 AM  
Blogger bannister said...

I'm late to the party, but I hunger for pics also. I guess I'm visually stimulated...

1:26 AM  

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