Yesterday I took a jeep from Darjeeling to Gangtok, an extremely pleasant town located in the Sikkim province of India in the Himalayas (slotted in between Bhutan, Tibet, and Nepal).
It was a swerving, bumpy, and absolutely gorgeous ride.
I arrived, checked into my guest house, and was eager to head out, walk around Gangtok, and get something to eat (zigzag roads don’t make me throw up, they make me hungry!).
After walking around for just a few moments I noticed a small crowd gathered on the side of the street, and many surrounding people munching on snacks.
I’m always one to be curious about crowds.
So I got in to take a look at what was going on.
As you probably know, there’s nothing that attracts crowds like free food!
After watching for just a few minutes, a few extremely friendly students approached and exclaimed “free snacks, would you like some?”
“Sure,” I replied, excited for a sample.
Seconds later the kind students jumped into the line and brought back hot jalebi (one of the top foods to travel around the world just to eat).
They were freshly made, piping hot, and marvelous. Jalebi is like a crispy deep fried thin donut that’s soaked in sweet syrup.
Also on the free snack menu were seriously flavorful deep fried onion pakoras (deep fried salty fritter).
The combo of the sweet jalebi, the salty pakoras, and the friendliness of the locals in Gangtok was a warm and memorable introduction to the cold weather Gangtok.
Why the free food?
Well I didn’t know at the time, but after looking up the holidays in India online, I discovered that January 14th is the Thai Pongal festival in India – kind of the Indian thanksgiving – a holiday to celebrate the harvest (especially true in south India).
Also, yesterday was the beginning of the Kumbh Mela, the world’s largest human gathering.
I’ve been in India for the last 3 weeks, currently in Gangtok, Sikkim.
So far I’ve had an incredible and memorable time traveling in India. Just about everything has been fascinating, and the food has been seriously delicious (and very affordable – some satisfying meals in Kolkata cost me just 20 – 40 Rupees ($0.37 – $0.73)).
I’ll be in India for the next month and a half before heading to Nepal.
I’m extremely excited to start sharing lots of food, photos, and videos with you soon.
However, my internet has been limited (and unpredictable), so it might take me some time before I start publishing food stories about India (in the meantime, I have other tasty posts scheduled to publish).
Hope you are all doing well and greetings once again from Gangtok, India!