The Moldy Backpack Blues…

From my freshly trimmed mustache
To the bottom of my walkin’ shoes…

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Tranquilo Traveler Rule #1: When your backpack has been sitting in the corner for so long that its leather shoulder straps cultivate fuzzy gray blotches of vegetation, when there are spider webs clinging to its frame, then, my friends, it is time to move on.

Yes, the hour has arrived to yank back our sprawled-out material lives, to simplify our possessions and pack them into bags, which will then be humped onto a rickshaw for one final ride through Birpara. We’ll look briefly back at our Akhil Bhavan flat, framed in tree leaves and peaceful in the early morning light, then we’ll roll north up the MG Road as we reflect on two more months gone by.

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We’ll pass the low-built white shrine to Shiva and Sunni (Saturn), and see remnant’s of Saturday night’s worship evident in melted wax and incense butts; past our laundry-wallah as he builds a fire on the curb for his coal-heated iron; past Babu the toilet paper-wallah; past Mohan’s Internet shop; through the bus stand and market mayhem where we’ll wave goodbye to Sanjay at Lovely Sweets; and finally, we’ll cross the railroad tracks and pull into the station, our driver’s back shiny with sweat from the trip.

Bulbulda will surely be there to help with our bags and tickets and see us off. He has been a true friend and guide to us, especially since Sarmishtha and Debasish left. Then we will climb onto the Siliguri-bound passenger coach followed by a shared jeep to Darjeeling, back to the high country, back to the Himalayas.

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