In March 2010 I packed the boys bag and mine and went to Assam. In March 2011 a phone call from Smitadi saw me shrug my shoulders (I was pissed off at Vicky) and agree to go to Darjeeling in three days' time. Rahul and I went, almost secretly, because I didn't want the families starting on me, telling me how dangerous it would be etc etc.
It was a fabulous trip, actually. Let me tell you what we did, Smitadi and Rahul and me, with occasional visits by Indranidi.
We ate like pigs. We even ate pigs. We walked through clouds and rode the Toy Train right through them.
We walked up and down hills through public lavatories and bazaars, past municipal buildings and colonial clubs, and walked up and down the mall hazaar times. We bought chocolate like addicts. Seriously.
I bought a kilo of liquor chocolates for Vicky, marzipan and brown and white chocolate creams and marzipan centred chocolates and a chocolate egg and a chocolate rabbit and marzipan and cheese pie and cheese and chicken pie and thick woollen stockings so that I can wear my short skirts next winter. We attended part of a Lent service at St Andrews and viewed Kanchenjunga by the morning light.
The Toy Train day was the most magical, I think, for Rahul.
Me, I kept bumping into ghosts. Me dancing around the railway station platform. Me walking sadly down Chowrasta. Me stepping through the drizzle to Kev's for a bite.
Rahul chased pigeons and I agonised over a pair of carved turquoise rosettes set into silver earrings at Habib Mullick's. (I didn't buy them then but Smitadi picked them up on my behaf later, yay.) He spent a whole morning mesmerised by a ladybird that he watched some older boys put into a fountain. He set a new style standard by pleading to wear mismatched shoes and crawled out of the blankets every blessed night, to be found huddling in a cold little ball every morning somewhere between Smitadi's head and mine.
Smitadi and I talked late into the night -- past 11, horrors! -- and Rahul slept around nine every night. The WBTDC Tourist Lodge turned out fabulous pork chops and Smitadi's friend Indrani turned out to be the wife of an ex colleague and the mother of two kids I've done theatre with. In fact, Indranidi made us awesome Indonesian beef one day and it was she who introduced me to the delights of Raju Bakery.
Rahul and I bought postcards and toilet cases and hair ornaments and discovered new roads. He was, after the first two days, a fabulous travelling companion. I still cannot get over how much fun he and I had, just us two, walking up and down Darjeeling, riding in the train, hopping into shared taxis, sipping hot chocolate in Kev's.
I took some gorgeous photographs of him this time.
Now I wonder what March 2012 will bring for the pair of us. Perhaps we will finally be able to take Vicky out somewhere.