The final destination along the Tea Horse Road, both for our own expedition and for the great journeys of the past, was Kalimpong, in Western Bengal. Yeshi and I would spend days sipping sweet tea and eating lethally good baked goods from Auntie Penzon in her ʻSomdala Kotteeʻ (Orange Cottage). She was a goddess of warmth and wizened beauty. Deep, bubbling, and utter royalty along the length of the trade route, she had her own tales of the route and its characters. One of the great beauties of her time, her own origins went back to 'Gyalthang', now called 'Shangrila', and my home for a decade.
She had competition though for attention in the form of a young relative who who would light up the green interior of the cottage with daily squeals of laughter and that rare thing: morning joy. She would in a moment make me forget my baked goods, my tea, our tales of the route as she took over time and space. Uniformed, with a small back pack, she would be hustled off to school and return later in the day, equally energized and alive. This was one morningʻs departure that lit up mine. One moment later she was gone.