Landed in Bagdogra airport at 01.35 PM (15 May 2014) from Delhi.
The heart was already filled with the old memories of early seventies when I was posted in Sukna in the Corps HQs as a Field Security Officer. That was just before the 1971 war. I was in Sukna from Nov 1971 to Jul 1974.
Bagdogra and area around it and Bengdubi were part of responsibility and I had had quite a bit of time spent here. So those moments were getting refreshed in the mind. That was almost 41/42 years back.
The taxi that I took to Darjeeling took a route via Panighatta & Pankhabari. That was unusual those days. But I was told by the driver that this was the most preferred route now. A bridge was seen built on Balson river after Panighatta, so that connected it with Pankhabari and cut down the distance to Kurseong. We joined at the road coming from Khaprail after Panighatta and I instantly recognized it: for I had used this road thousand of times. Though lots of built up areas have come and developed in the tri-junction. But still it was no difficulty for me to recognize it.
Then came the narrow roads and bends of Pankhabari and made me very emotionally nostalgic. It seemed nothing has changed in last more than 40 years; same sharp bends and steep road. Same ancient trees on the side just before we reach Pankhabari and all that were much the same. Some new constructions have come up.
As we climbed up the Pankhabari road cool breeze was such a welcome feel from that sultry heat of Siliguri & Bagdogra. Tea gardens on both side of the road were same as they were then and may have remained like that even before. Makaibari Tea Estate had added some new buildings near its gate.
As we entered Kurseong near the TV tower, only thing that had changed was many new construction and many more vehicles parked on the road which made a narrow road narrower, too many people; school children walking after the school made driving difficult.
A quick snack at the Tourist Lodge at Kurseong and we were on the road to Darjeeling: the driver was in a hurry to reach Darjeeling. He said after dropping me at the Darjeeling he has to take his father to Siliguri hospital.
We reached Darjeeling around 6.00 in the evening. Approach to Ghoom and Darjeeling was the same as it was in Kurseong, to many people, new constructions, and too many vehicles, hardly a place to walk on the road. I wonder how it will be walking on Darjeeling roads and streets from tomorrow, as I intend to do, with so many people & vehicles vying for the road space. And to add to the crowd tourist season has begun. I saw many groups of tourists in Bagdogra heading to Darjeeling.
I wish to rest for the evening and go nowhere.