North By North-East
Until I visited India, my concept of its geography was flawed.
I imagined it sat like an inverted triangle, pointing down into the Indian Ocean.
This is not the case.
India is shaped like a diamond whose top has met with mishap:
Perhaps a telling metaphor for Partition; Britain’s farewell gift to the subcontinent.
The triangle I envisioned was the southern half of India.
A northern landmass of almost equal size sits above that, its apex still pushing inexorably up into Asia, giving rise to the Himalayas.
Because of this geography, to reach north-east India from Delhi, we would be travelling south-west:
over 1,000 km south-west,
The state of Sikkim lacks its own airport so we flew from Delhi to Bagdogra, North Bengal.
We travelled with Kingfisher – surely the only airline owned by a brewery.
Rather disappointingly, they did not serve beer.
But it was a comfortable flight, made even more pleasant by a cabin crew of charming air-hostesses
Wary of cold weather, I had come well prepared not only for alpine vistas but also for a cooler climate.
As we stepped onto the tarmac I scanned the landscape, waiting to be awed by my first glimpse of the mighty Himalayas.
There was nothing.
Not even a small hill.
The surrounding countryside appeared utterly flat, and the temperature positively tropical.
But there was no time to ponder such matters.
Our bags should soon emerge on the luggage carousels and, hopefully, a new driver would be waiting to greet us..
Photograph taken on-board the Kingfisher Airbus. Map of India taken from the web.