In a crowded jeep, we are following the famous Darjeling Himalyan Railway around the mountain. We stop about 20 km before Dardjeling, in the middle of the tea gardens, in front of a temple porch (just a porch with a bell). A hundred steps down; we arrive in the small village of Anankong. About four families are living there in 12 houses. We are hosted by Pratik, Sneha and their parents. They are putting a scarf around our neck to welcome us, and then they serve us a tea, with local leaf of course! The mother is working in the tea gardens, and the father is a jeep driver. Pratik and Sneha are still going to school. We spent a week with them and they became like a second family.
The house, even small, is always welcoming many people: friends or family from the nearby villages. The atmosphere is very joyful and everybody is very curious to meet us. In the evening, they offer us some local alcohol (made with distilled rice or fermented millet) and they invite us to dance on Indian and European music: we laugh a lot! The next day we go down to the river for a bath and to make our laundry. We see there the tea factory dating from the colonization, but still very present!
The village is very nice with all his small colorful houses, decorated with many flower pots. We even saw real “English garden” in the middle of the mountains. Small paths are connecting houses and villages. Animal are rare, I only saw some goats trapped in small bamboo cages. There are some vegetable gardens, but no real fields because most of the land is used by companies to grow tea. Every morning, the mother is leaving the house with a big basket on her back, to harvest the tea leaves, for only 1,5 euro a day !
We spent our time visiting the hills around and going to the market with the family. And I learned how to knit when the weather was too foggy.