No, not the movie with Nicolas Cage and Sean Connery escaping from Alcatraz (but nonetheless a damn good movie, while we’re on the topic), although Newfoundland—aptly nicknamed “The Rock”—can easily feel like Alcatraz, especially in bleak weather conditions that can (temporarily) trap you on the island against your will.
This is why I was taken by surprise when my plane flew towards the shimmering night lights of St. John’s, the capital of Newfoundland and Labrador, ahead of schedule.
October, a month synonymous with hot apple cider, pumpkin pie, turkey (Thanksgiving), vibrant colors, and fresh, crisp air, is a glorious time to visit the east coast of Canada. Fall is my favourite season for these reasons, and combined with the company of family and close friends, signifies warmth and happiness despite the rapidly cooling temperatures and darkening days.
I knew I needed to get out of town when I found myself listening to Lenny Kravitz’s “Fly Away” on repeat for the few days leading up to my weekend trip to Copenhagen on August 9th. I would be visiting Chiara, a friend I had met on my travels in Thailand in 2014 and whose mom I had the pleasure of meeting in Delhi in May. Chiara had been living in Copenhagen for the past seven years and was happy to show me around her city, rain or shine (I quickly learned she was always expertly equipped for the fickle Copenhagen weather).
It ain’t India unless there’s a cow in the middle of the road.
Seriously, every place I’ve been, cows can be found leisurely crossing the road (and other farm animals, but the cow is the most quintessential), seemingly oblivious to the hurricane of traffic swirling around them.
If I had to concisely sum up my experience of India, I would describe it as sensory overload. This feeling mainly applies to my time in the major cities, as Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh are much more remote, peaceful, and pleasing to the senses (or at least to mine). But despite the dense population and chaotic way of life here, things seem to function, even if I can’t always see the rhyme or reason as a foreigner.
I’m back in Delhi after two solid days of rest in Guwahati. I found a copy of The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho on the bookshelf in the communal living room, and quickly read it cover to cover. I know most of the western world has already read this book and I am late to the game, but better late than never. It was a gem; there are many little nuggets of wisdom and interesting analogies weaved throughout the story.
The bus ride was less like hell and more like purgatory.
It turns out I was armed with higher tolerance on the way back from Ziro than I had on the way there. To my surprise, the same “punk kid” ended up being my Sumo driver from Ziro back to Naharlagun. This coincidence made me smile, and, once again, his driving skills proved solid. Once we arrived, he shouldered my backpack and took me directly to the bus stand. We exchanged a handshake and then parted ways.
Tallo came to pick me up on his motorbike a little later today, around 9 am. We first went on a hike to Taw Tibe Farm, which involved climbing a hell of a lot of steps, but I am accustomed to uphill climbs by now. The farm itself is considered to be its own village, home to only two families. There wasn’t much to see on the farm itself, but the view overlooking the farm and surrounding area was scenic enough: