My host at Kettle Valley home stay had promised a village walk in the morning. He had knocked on my door a couple of times, but I continued to sleep. Well, the villagers don't sleep in. While I was still struggling to get out of my bed, I could hear the usual murmur outside my room. School children passed by beneath the home stay where I stayed. My host probably thought I had changed my mind about the morning walk.
The morning freshness
But, I couldn’t do that. I shrugged off my sleep, quickly splashed some water on my face and got ready for my day out in Dilaram village. As soon as I set out, I could feel the genial embrace of damp foliage around me and I just wanted to go on. As we had walked a little bit and passed by the small village homes, I was greeted by the blossoming Dilaram Tea Gardens. Although I wanted to linger around and soak in the morning freshness, I followed my host wherever he led me. After a while, we did stop for some photographs and a quick chit-chat with the tea-pluckers, which also enlightened me about their underpaid state.
Hills and valleys hidden away in mist
As we walked ahead, there were panoramas of more tea gardens, hazy hills and dales, and a bird’s eye view of Kurseong – a small town in Darjeeling district. Then I thought to myself that if I hadn’t woken up I would have missed out on so much! It was like wherever I glanced, I had something to admire.
The Stupa of love
Now the little village homes were waiting for me to pass by and learn something beautiful about their lives. Perhaps the most endearing thing that I discovered that day was the love of an old man for his beloved wife. (It’s a tradition in Buddhism that they build a stupa (grave) of their loved ones near the house.) This old Nepalese-Buddhist man had built a stupa for his wife who had passed away eleven months ago. He spent most of his time around the stupa maintaining it and keeping it tidy.
Dilaram folks knew how to recycle the plastic waste
As I walked farther, I had glimpses of several village homes and their morning routine. I was fascinated by their simple and laid-back living. And, something to really commend was the sanitation in the village. The village folks had made dustbins with old plastic bottles and had hung them at various places on the pathways, so that nobody threw trash inadvertently anywhere. No wonder I found every nook and cranny clean.
Breakfast at a gracious home
On our way back, my host had a surprise for me in store. I didn’t know that as I glanced through the smiling faces, the cute little homes, the cattle and the fields, I would also get a chance to taste a bit of their lives. A gracious lady in the village invited us into her home and offered tea and breakfast.
Her son prepared delicious noodles and a poached egg for me. The egg was garnished with mustard oil (quite generously). Apparently, they use a lot of mustard oil for cooking anything non-vegetarian, which is believed to enhance the taste. And yes, the egg did taste great. As we finished our breakfast, the lady brewed the flavorful black Darjeeling tea for us.
I bade her goodbye with much gratitude, not just for the delightful breakfast, but also for sharing a beautiful morning with me – a stranger. Dilaram village turned out to be a lesson for me that I will never forget or even let it fade away.
Practical Information: Dilaram Village is only 8 km from the town of Kurseong in Darjeeling district. It is easily accessible from Siliguri railway station and Bagdogra airport by private or shared taxis.
So, would you choose a beautiful village over a vibrant city for your holiday?
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