07 February 2008

Tea Fields

Well, I didn't make it out of Darjeeling, after all. I ended up stopping at a renowned tea shop and bought a year's supply. But that wasn't what took so much time. What took so much time was posting it (and other accumulated travel detritus) home. When I asked if someone could pack my things at the post office, I had to wait almost an hour for some guy to show up and bring me to a dark, dusty storefront next to his family pharmacy. There, he proceeded to stitch up my package in a white cloth and seal the edges with hot wax. "What the hell are you doing?" I asked, actually in a more polite way, and he told me this is how things are packed here. When I asked why, he said, "Because this is India." I hope that doesn't become a refrain on this trip every time something of this odd nature happens. Anyway, it took awhile for this whole stitching/waxing process to finish, by which point it was far too late to contemplate a border crossing. Just as well, what with protestors in the area looting and burning vehicles, etc. I also asked at the post office why they bother with this cumbersome wrapping process, and he said it's to prevent theft or something. "Doesn't a box and tape work well enough?" I wondered. But I should know better by now than to engage in these sorts of conversations. Oddly (especially for India, I gather), I didn't have to fill out a detailed customs form for the package. The sewer/waxer dude just tore a strip of paper for me and told me to write down the contents. Then he rolled it and waxed that on top of the lot, writing "declaration form -->" next to it. Cute. So dad, you can expect yet another package in a few months, that is, if US Customs, wondering why it isn't accompanied by proper documentation, doesn't set it on fire. After my hours-long post office adventure, I went down to the Happy Valley Tea fields for an amble. Sadly, there is no tea production going on right now, so I haven't been able to visit a factory. But I am properly wired, having sampled just about every variety of black, white, and green tea that grows around here. My business and pleasure in Darjeeling both completed, tomorrow morning, ca. 6 am, I am definitely going to start my border run. I should make it to Bogra, Bangladesh by the late afternoon, that is, if angry Bengali demonstrators don't set *me* on fire.

1 comment:

Jhenn said...

Lots of fire being mentioned in these past posts!
Can you bring me back something bitchin' please? =) You know, I'm most likely moving back to Japan in August, about 45-60min from Osaka, and will have a spare room if you wanna trek around/visit some more.
Stay safe!