This is the first of 8 news items about out trip to India in 2023. Our last trip was in October 2019. It had been our habit to visit every two years, but in practical terms the pandemic prevented travelling for four years, so a visit felt long overdue.
After landing in Delhi, we had planned our itinerary to include a visit to Topden at his medical school in Dehradun, then a journey across the length of the Indian Himalaya to Bagdogra airport, meeting a private hire jeep to travel on to Gangtok in Sikkim. Here we were to meet most of our present students and OBGs (old boys and girls). Next we planned a day trip to the primary school Sikkim Himalayan Academy in West Sikkim, on the way to Dr Graham’s Homes school in Kalimpong, West Bengal. Here we would stay for two nights to meet our sponsored boys in the sixth form and their teachers. Finally, the return journey via Bagdogra and Delhi.
In the event, those plans had to be changed: Topden’s grandfather died and he had to go home to West Sikkim, then the day we left Sikkim was hit by a natural flood disaster on the Teesta River. Besides the damage to homes and loss of life, the flood washed away many bridges, leaving Gangtok and the north of Sikkim cut-off. In addition the flood and heavy rainfall caused many landslides, so that the normal route from Siliguri to Kalimpong was closed, turning a 3 hour drive into more than 5 hours, with the possibility always of getting stuck even in a 4 wheel drive. You can read about the flood here.
You can read how the visit worked out by going directly to other posts here:
Post 2 Topden and Dehradun
Post 3 Siliguri and on to Kalimpong
Post 4 To Buriakhop and a welcome at SHA
Post 5 Meeting OBGs and students at SHA
Post 6 To Kalimpong and Dr Graham’s Homes
Post 7 Finishing up at DGH
Post 8 Back Home