Pants and a panda

Written by Stuart Revnell No Gravatar

Some of you have remarked on the fact that I look thoroughly miserable wrapped in blankets and a woollen hat in recent pictures.

Thoroughly miserable I was not, but I can safely say that by the end of the trek, I had grown rather tired of the cold and primitive conditions, and was hankering after a warm, comfortable bed in which I didn’t have to sleep in all my clothes, a hot shower and some clean underwear.

Things came to a head on a particularly cold night two days ago, when the hot water bottle kindly provided by our lodge turned tepid within an hour of me going to bed, my grey woollen hat wouldn’t stay on, and I got tangled up in my sleeping bag liner.  I developed what Jane referred to as a ‘rage’, and things became so grave that I threw my hot water bottle and sleeping bag liner out of the bed, and when Jane kindly offered to help find my hat, the only constructive response I could offer was “There’s no point – I may as well just go to sleep in the f****** fridge.”

Needless to say, Jane found this amusing, and sniggered her way to sleep while I lay there in a huff with my head freezing.

Anyway, to allay any concerns you may have about my state of mind, here are three much happier pictures taken over two days once we got to Darjeeling.

The first picture is of me buying a new pair of pants from a market stall.  Not my usual style, and  I’m certainly not a brand person when it comes to pants, but after almost ten days having to recycle underwear because it was too icy to dry any laundry, they were about the finest pants I could ever have hoped to find.

The second picture is of the red panda (ailuris fulgens for any zoologists out there), whom we saw in the Himalayan Zoological Park just before it closed.  The red panda appears on seemingly every piece of tourism-related literature in Sikkim, but of course the chances of seeing it in the wild are about the same as the chances of getting to a trekking lodge at 3,500m and finding a hot bath waiting for you.  Ailuris fulgens was contentedly munching away on some grass in the park, however, and rather serendipitously, looked up at the exact moment my finger pressed the camera shutter.

The final picture is of me looking happy to be sitting in the back of a jeep, ready to begin the three hour trip to Siliguri for our overnight train to Kolkata.  Look closely and you’ll notice a new facial hair style too.  The new pants are the only explanation for this, I think.  Slipping into a pair of M&S hipsters is all well and good, but slipping on a pair of tan, tight-fitting sports trunks brought out the wannabe 70s adult film star in me, and sent all my plans for a neat grade 1 from head to chin out of the window.  Instead, I found myself carefully fashioning the beginnings of a handlebar ‘tache once again (it’s been some time since I’ve toyed with the look).  Thankfully I’d brought the right style of sunglasses with with me too, for a match made in heaven (feather down jacket aside).

Jane sniggered herself to sleep that night too, needless to say.

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