My husband, being Anglo Indian, hails from Kolkata and his grandfather was schooled in Darjeeling. When we moved to India these were two of the places top of our to-do list, as soon as I found out we were expecting we thought we’d better get them booked in!
We flew to Kolkata, had half a day at the Tollygunge Club which was beautiful and so relaxing. I have been craving greenery and serenity since being pregnant. In the evening we had a train from Sealdah to New Jalpaiguri booked for 11pm. We had a room booked at the Tollygunge so that we could shower and nap as we knew it would be a long and possibly restless night.
Our taxi turned up about 20 minutes late and left us in a state of stress since we were told that we would never make the train station before departure time. Somehow our rickety old clapped out yellow Ambassador still had some gusto in it and we arrived with about 5 minutes to spare. We even managed to settle into our cabin before departure.
On this occasion, we decided to go first class. The four birth cabin cost INR3,000 each and our companions for the evening were a lovely young family with a 3 year old daughter. He shared his Bacardi and coke with Mr Maternal and she shared her chapatis and chicken curry with me.
I remembered from my last trip that the beds can be a little hard and so we used all our wolly jumpers and coats to pad out my now larger belly. I was able to curl up pretty easily and drift of to sleep. I especially think Baby liked the rocking motion as s/he squirmed and moved only a little.
Arriving in NJP was an adventure in itself, the train was delayed as usual but the biggest shock was all the beggars and taxi touts. Our new friend from the train had kindly arranged a car for us so that we didn’t have the hassle of bartering for cars. I recommend this. I was tired and hungry and the last thing I felt like doing was fighting for a Rs500 discount.
The drive is pretty, umm how should I describe this, bumpy? We were in a Maruti Sazuki which handled the bends like a dream but lacked on stamina up the hills. The whole journey took 3 hrs and was hairpin after hairpin. I am a good traveller but even by the end of this ride I was ready for it to end. The roads were pot-holy and broken so it was very uneven. Mr Maternal even questioned whether this might effect the baby. I’m sure it was fine.