July 21st 8:18pm - The City is Closed

After our thirty-four-hour train ride, Pakistan and I alighted in New Jalpaiguri at 5:30am, delighted to almost reach Darjeeling. We located the bus station and said, "Tickets to Darjeeling please!" our smiles shimmering through the dirt and sweat like a coin in a pile of elephant excrement.
"Darjeeling closed," came the reply with a shake of the head.
"Darjeeling closed? " we asked, cocking our heads to the side as if we had just been informed that Mother Teresa had been eleven feet tall.
"Darjeeling closed. No buses."
"Okay... you mean the road is closed? Road to Darjeeling closed?"
"Darjeeling closed. No buses."
"Okay... so buses aren't running there today? Could we take a car?"
"Darjeeling closed. No car. No bus. Closed."
"Okay... thanks," we said.
"Is today Sunday?" I asked Pakistan. "Maybe they just don't run today."
"I think today's Wednesday... or Thursday... it might be Saturday. I don't think it's Sunday though."
We continued to question the locals, all of whom repeated, "Darjeeling closed," as if they had been briefed that morning by the Dalai Lama.
Eventually a rickshaw driver with a twelve-year-old's command on the English language mentioned the word, "Strike."
Pakistan and I scanned Darjeeling strike online. Our research revealed the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha called the general strike concerning a transfer of a police officer. This made as much sense to me as outdoor urinals situated along the sidewalks in Old Delhi, but what materialized was a trip to Nepal.

No comments: