Sunday, 12 October 2014

The Memorable Gangtok Trip

During our fifth semester of Engineering we had a wonderful Gangtok trip. Along with me and my roommate Nair, Bikram, Mehboob and Mustaque also went for the trip. We boarded the train early morning from Guwahati Railway station. We reached New Jalpaiguri at around 2 pm and got down there. We took cycle rickshaws to go to Siliguri, which is at a distance of 4-5 km from the Railway station. Usually the rickshaw drivers charge four to five time the normal fare from travelers. Well, we were aware of all that from some of our Gangtok friends.

'Lal batti se jauge to 100 Rs and normal rote 50 Rs,' said one of the rickshaw drivers.

'Ye lal batti kya hai?' We were confused what is lal batti?

Mustaque was an expert in all those and immediately replied with his typical laughter, 'abbe, lal batti means Red light  area'

'Aree nahi bhai, normal route se le chalo,' Nair responded and asked the driver to follow the usual shortcut.

It is 4 to 5 hours drive from Siliguri to Gangtok, and we traveled in a regular shared taxi. Pretty soon we were ascending the elevation, driving through exotic dense forest. The scenery was mesmerizing. The zig-zag terrain and the elegant view outside, was magical. The forest looked refreshing with different varieties of strange and colorful flora. On the way, we encountered some fascinating waterfalls. Everyone was looking outside the window, enjoying the beauty of Mother Nature. But Mehboob was sound asleep with his mouth wide open. I was very confused, how could anyone sleep in such wonderful and thrilling drive. 

"Mehboob, Mehboob, kya so raha hai, gandu," just look outside, the view is so scenic.

"Haan yaar, bohut sundar hai, it’s really beautiful outside," Mehboob said and again went to sleep in the next couple of minutes. 

We reached Gangtok by late evening. We called our senior friend Digvijay, who is from Gangtok. He helped us in finding a reasonable lodge for our stay. We shared some good time and then Digvijay left for home. The next day he took us for sightseeing. We visited many places, including some monasteries, zoological parks and gardens. Later we had sumptuous lunch at Digvijay’s house. The next morning we visited Tsongmo Lake, popularly known as Changu Lake. Well, Changu Lake is the most attractive place to visit in Gangtok. It is a glacial lake in the East Sikkim, some 40 km away from Gangtok at an elevation of 12400 ft. Sikkim is really very exotic. The best part is, people are very kind and friendly, there. October is one of the best seasons to visit Sikkim. These days all the major travel companies offer different kind of Travel Deals, which give heavy airfare and hotel discounts. 

I remember Mustaque had an embarrassing stomach throughout the trip. Poor guy had serious issues in filling his tummy; he found it difficult to digest the kind of food we enjoyed, there in Gangtok. Well, this is where the branded food products like KFC or McDonald's plays the vital role. They never disappoints, irrespective of any place. Also the kind of Food Deals we get in such brands, is seriously tempting. But those days such yummy brands were not available in the market. Even if they would be available, our pockets wouldn't have allowed us to relish such sumptuousness. Mustaque was quite conscious about his condition. He tried to take extra precautions to avoid any kind of embarrassment, but then it’s difficult to fight one’s angry abdomen. 

We started early morning for Changu Lake. It was 3 to 4 hours of thrilling drive through the Himalayan terrain. It was the month of October and the snowfall could have started anytime soon. The locals told us that during winter the entire region is covered under snow. On the way all the vehicles stopped at a particular place for refreshment. The cab driver told us that we could use the washroom, there. He also told us that in Changu Lake we wouldn’t get such facilities. We tried to pull Mustaque’s leg and asked him to use the washroom as many times as he wanted. We strictly advised him not to showcase any drama in the venue, later. It seemed Mustaque’s stomach was in a good mood that time and he laughed at us with some of his trademark slangs.

Changu Lake is damn exotic. It was freezing cold. It was quite fascinating to see the alluring blue lake at a height of more than 12000 ft. During winter the entire lake would be frozen with a thin sheet of ice on the top. The place was covered with beautiful rocks all around. There were many tourists trekking all over the place. We also started to trek and after reaching a certain height, it seemed Mustaque’s stomach had a mood swing. He started to express his anxiety. We tried to ignore him but Mustaque was getting restless. 

"Tabhi bola tha kar le, gandu" Our irritation was at peak and we asked him why didn’t he finish it off in the place where the jeep stopped. Mustaque was not in any condition to give explanation. Somehow he managed to convince Mehboob to bring two bottles of mineral water. Mustaque thought he would manage to find a hiding place in between the giant rocks. Mehboob had to go all the way down to bring the water bottles. Mustaque’s wait was getting impatient. His stomach could have burst any moment. Mehboob appeared in ten minutes. But, what the hell? He just came empty handed.

'What happened? Why didn’t you bring the bottles?' Mustaque asked in panic. 

'The assholes are selling 10 Rs  bottles for 20 Rs. Also, it’s already late and I thought you might have finished by now,' Mehboob tried to clarify.

'Chutiya, asshole. Just bring the bottles even if they charge 100 Rs. I will pay the money, don’t worry. Just go and bring,' Mustaque desperately yelled at Mehboob, .

Mehboob was in no mood to go all the way down again, but then he went for it. Later, we saw a satisfying smile on Mustaque's face.

"With emerging technologies, the way people do business is changing. The competition is really tough and it’s not easy for the corporate to sustain in the market. Be it retailer sector, food industry or travel companies for instance, people have many options. People look for the best possible deal for them. Well, this is the era of deals and coupons. Initially I also ignored such offers and thought it’s just a marketing gimmick. But then, it’s more than that. Let’s say, four guys want to have a pizza party. They go to a Pizza Hut, satisfy their tongue and tummy. They pay a bill of say, 1500 Rs. With a little bit of knowledge on deals, or with a little bit of google search, they could have enjoyed the same party in say, 1000 Rs. This is the power of Deals and Coupons, these days"

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