India is truly a remarkably diverse land of natural beauty. Rain makes it even more beautiful. Here’s my account of careless showers on Sikkim and Andaman islands!
The bewitching mountains of Sikkim!
I stood bewitched gazing at Kachenjunga with thundering clouds as the background score to this perfect ideal scene in Gangtok. Nestled in the eastern Himalayan range 5500 feet above sea level, Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim is another world altogether, be it the enchanting landscape, their traditions, food or simply the warm and must say fashionable people. The locals keep reminding us tourists to use dustbins if they spot you licking an ice cream or sipping on a cold coffee. Such is the love for their beloved town, no wonder why Gangtok remains pristine apart from of course the natural beauty bestowed upon it and the heavy buddhist and oriental influences on its architecture and culture.
The city welcomes you with open arms or majestic valleys should I say and as you enter, you are ensconced in the sheer simplicity and yet elegance of the place. The cobbled paths lined with delightful flowers, the colourful little houses and oh their MG road bazaar.., well it isn’t quite as old fashioned as the mall roads you’ve been to in the northern hill stations. With a range of nick nacks for your house and some hip eating joints and pubs for the young at heart there’s hardly anytime to kill flies. While the hills surround us, the fiery teesta cuts through two states carving its own journey as if on a mission with Sikkim on one side and West Bengal on the other. And with a cloudy weather hovering over us such as this, the fun of exploring multiplies, just make sure you do not slip while walking on the dewy zig zag uphill and then suddenly steep downhill narrow lanes.
But where I stood now in my beautiful reverie with the majesty of Kanchenjunga before me, just as I was about to take the first bite of my maggi now turned cold and moist, an army of massive black clouds marched in interrupting my surreal sight.
Even before I could gather my wits, I was half drenched already with a sudden shower, quite unexpected in the month of May which is smack in the middle of summers but I was beaming still like an excited kid for the sweet chill it brought. I turned to shelter myself but stopped as I realised what lay behind me in this drop dead gorgeous valley. Every object, be it the sun kissed flowers or the beautiful monasteries turned several shades brighter as the rain embraced them lovingly cheering them up from their dullness.
While little lamas played hide and seek, tourists made it a point to savour delicious momos and thukpa and I immediately ticked it off as my next plan and the local women scurried off with their groceries into mysterious bylanes.
The cool breeze smelled of some sort of nature’s divine perfume. With a landscape as enigmatic as that and a weather to die for, I decided to give my umbrella a break!
Braving the high tides and torrential rain on the ship deck in Andaman Islands!
Twinkle eyed and ballet toed clutching tight on to the railing, I peer down from the deck in sheer awe. I was aboard the government ship heading to Havelock Island, the most popular one among the cluster of more than 500 islands but only over 30 inhabited in Andaman and Nicobar, 100 km off the east coast of India. Our journey set sail from the capital Port Blair and as I entered the vessel, I dropped my back pack on my allotted seat in the air conditioned passenger compartment and ran up to the captain’s deck and boy, even a second wasted would be precious something lost.
I could spot far away islands jutting out sporadically on the ocean. The sea was rough roaring with rage as the ferocious rain stormed at us. But I refused to budge from my spot out in open on the deck. Though the monsoon is expected to hit only from February, an occasional down pour is a common feature through out the year here. A glance down in the water so transparent, thanks to the best month of January that I chose, my eyes popped at the sight of the stunning marine life, fish and corals galore right till the base. I wondered and still do, with all dew respect to them why we crave for Maldives or Mauritius when the tropical beach heaven is right here. But there was something else that had me frozen in place even as the waves competed to come close to my height and cave me in and the angry rain threatened to throw me into the never ending expanse of Bay of Bengal. I couldn’t help but marvel at the beauty of what the relentless shower bestowed on the ocean.
I saw rainbows! Yes rainbow in plural. One after the other as if they were sailing with us giving the dolphins company imitating their jump from within the deep blue, forming a perfect arc and splash….back into the sea. Wish I could do the same with them! Imagine, rainbows, dolphins and me making merry in ocean’s belly. The flurry of rage from the rain gods because the ocean stole the sky’s rainbow was only the sweetest treat to add to my fantasy.