Sikkim Episode (S01E01): Pre-Sikkim Drama

                              “Family that travels together, stays together”. Travelling is an integrated part of any family, especially when you are born in a Gujarati family (and I am not telling just because I am affiliated to one, but it is universal fact that in whichever corner of the world you travel, you will find some Gujarati family shouting. Actually that’s their regular tone of talking, so don’t worry).

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               When I was a child, we used to travel around India during most of the vacations. Finally, as I had completed my MBA and there was a quiet a long vacation between joining date, we decided to go somewhere. It was a month of April; so we decided on going to some hill stations. After a long streak of searches we finally shortlisted three places: Nepal, Bhutan and Sikkim (priorities in descending order). Yes, Nepal was at the number one priority. One of the reason for Nepal was the natural beauty of the places it offers and the other reason was that I wanted to travel outside of India because I didn’t get that chance till now. Nepal – Done.

                  After selecting the destination, I went forward and started searching for the best available travel company (given one fact, I don’t like tour packages on my solo travels, but if family is concerned it’s better to have predictable and hazardless journey). There were many tour operators which were providing Nepal tour of 7 days: Yatra, Kesari, Travelguru, MakeMyTrip etc. I finally ended up selecting MakeMyTrip based on the reviews and also it had its office near to our home.

                   We selected Nepal package, starting ex-Delhi on 27th April, 2015 (recalled something? That big disastrous earthquake which shook entire country on 25th April, 2015). Tour was starting from Delhi, so we left our home town – Rajkot – to go for Ahmedabad from where we had our flight to Delhi on 25th April.  We were at my cousin’s place when we got to know about the earthquake, some four hours before our scheduled flight to Delhi. Initially no one knew that the intensity was that great, so we called MakeMyTrip and asked if the tour is cancelled. They initially told that everything is normal and the tour will start on schedule. But after one hour we got a call from Delhi MakeMyTrip office that unfortunately all the packages of Nepal was cancelled due to closure of Kathmandu airport and collapse of many historical structures in Nepal. It was our breathtaking escape (We initially thought of selecting a package of 23rd April, but it was clashing with my convocation date, which was on 24th, and so we selected 27th April).

                    We were sad; we wanted to see Nepal. But we were sadder for the people of Nepal, it was such a horrible incident nature had played. We went back to Rajkot the same day. The main thing is – you get calls from your relatives and neighbors asking questions and making you more depressed. And moreover your friends teasing you ‘how was Nepal?’ We coordinated with MakeMyTrip office of Rajkot. They are nice guys. They returned all our money to wallet, without even cutting the airplane fare. They asked us to select any alternate package.

                    There we were; again left with two options: Bhutan or Sikkim. Being enthusiastic of religions, I always had a penchant towards Buddhism. And Bhutan is the home to it, so I insisted for Bhutan. Unfortunately, tickets to Bhutan were skyrocketing. Bhutan has only one airport in Paro, and most of the travelers were shifted for Bhutan from Nepal in-between this time. So we were left with only one option – Sikkim (and no one knew at the time that this will be blessings in disguise)

                      Finally, it was Sikkim starting from 18th May, 2015. We prayed to god that we don’t want any surprises now, let this trip be hassle-free. But god always have plan B, life is so unpredictable (we will prove this as we go further). All bags packed and we were ready to start a voyage.

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