I head to Lata and see a dozen houses on the road to the border with Tibet. In fact its inhabitants spend most of the year in it. I see stone houses with wooden galleries painted blue. In an open-air courtyard framed by several of these houses I meet the head of the town. For forty years he has accompanied the expeditions through the mountains of the Nanda Devi massif as a guide or carrier, since this town, at 2,370 meters of altitude, is the starting point.

One of the most dangerous moments of the trek is to descend. After dinner and in total darkness, I go to the cabin with three cots, where I go to sleep soon.

Trekking in the Indian Himalaya to Nanda Devi

Day 2

At 8:30 we started the march after a visit to the local temple, of course, dedicated to the goddess Nanda. We are accompanied by three young porters, a bit excessive I think, but then I will see that they carry a lot of food and weight. They want to treat me well. One acts as a cook. After an easy path through the beautiful forest of holm oaks, rhododendrons and conifers to start, it becomes steep.

The worst are the steps made of large stones to prevent erosion of the land with monsoon rains. However, I meet again my beloved mountains and enjoy the beauty, the loneliness and that sense of mystery that the great wild forests provide. I love the lights and shadows created by the solar rays, their deep silence and their unexpected and inscrutable sounds.

We arrived at the campsite shortly after 12 o'clock, after crossing a wide torrent over the stones. We could have arrived earlier but I stopped for a while with a couple of Belgians, who live in Laos, to exchange impressions. They tell me that they have not passed Lata Kharak and that the last hour of the climb had become very hard for them. They have not dared to reach the Dharansi pass as one of them has high blood pressure.

My team has placed the tent on a grassy promontory that protrudes from the hillside and offers a beautiful panorama over the river, almost a thousand meters below, the village and a wide semicircle of mountains. We settle into a half-collapsed hut of shepherds. I do breathing exercises.

Day 3

I wake up at 6 in the morning. I do not leave the bag until 7 o'clock. They bring me breakfast with some scrambled eggs that I can not eat, cereals with milk, chapatis with jam and a couple of bananas. We left around 9. The ascent is hard although we continue through the forest. After a while I have to stop every 50 meters to take a breath.

The altitude begins to be noticed. We stopped for an hour to have lunch with chapatis and an individual juice carton. Shortly after 2 o'clock in the afternoon, after the innumerable zigs-zags of the road, we arrived at Lata Kharak at 3,800 m.

We stayed in a stupendous wooden cabin with four totally empty rooms, property of the Forest Department, located under the ridge just in the upper limit of the level of the forests. I lie down for an hour. I do my exercises! It seems that I am acclimating very well to the altitude.

Before dinner I talk to other trekkers, the other inhabitants along with their porters from the cabin. Only one has arrived with his guide to the Dharansi pass. The others have turned before the throats of Satkhula. They have seemed dangerous to them and they were tired. It's cold. I have a great soup with vegetables. I sleep fully dressed inside the jacket.

Day 4

I make an excursion to a ridge, border of the outer sanctuary, from which one has a good panorama of this, of the deep throat of the Rishi Ganga in the background and of the peaks that surround it. For much of the stretch there is no road and we have to climb and descend rocks and stones, but it is an excellent exercise. In addition to the great views of the white snow peaks of the Bethartoli Himal, is the Trishul Peak. It takes about 5 hours to reach 4000 meters. We go back to sleep in the cabin.

Trekking in the Indian Himalaya to Nanda Devi

Day 5

I had a memory far removed from reality. The forest is over and the path cuts through tall reddish grasses, boulders and rocks at the bias of the slope to the Jhandidar pass. We are, just like yesterday, in the middle of the mountain, alone with the sky and the snowy peaks. I photograph against the light, so that the sun makes its petals semi-transparent. The strange lotuses of the Himalayas and, also, the three porters on a crest with their silhouettes cut against the deep blue sky.

We stopped one hour at the pass to rest and eat. The Dunagiri to our left and the enigmatic Nanda Devi to the front see us at the end of the bleak landscape. The clouds begin, as every day, to embrace them. I breathe with relish. For the moment I hold. Tired but at ease. I have a thick and cold chapati, two half-cooked potatoes, nuts and a raw banana, because with this cold they do not ripen.

There begin the seven gorges of Satkhula. I did not remember them so unruly. About a kilometer, and almost two hours, we continuously go up and down between 4,500 and 4,600 meters crossing gleras, ascending rocks and saving steps on the precipices with slates of slate rock strategically placed by the shepherds of Lata.

I am aware of my limitations. I'm not going to jump from stone to stone like one of those blue goats, bharals, that have seen grazing when we climb. After the passage through the gorges, a long and gradual descent, again between tall weeds and scattered stones, leads us to the Dharansi pass. After 8 hours of effort, I'm exhausted. The sun and all the peaks have been hidden behind the clouds and these even close the bottom of the narrow valley. The landscape has become sad and the ardor of the morning has become a single desire, to reach that blue spot. The shop, which the porters have placed just before the ridge defines the passage. The mist rises and the evening sun heats my last steps.

After the usual tea, I sit at the door of the store. I enjoy the show and know that the most difficult thing has happened. The earth is now red, like the twilight sky. The silence here accompany the clouds from the distant valleys of the world, to take root and remain with its leafy glass while I wait for dinner, night and rest.

Day 6

My plan is to go down to Dibrugheta, deep in the throat, and sleep in the cave. But, unfortunately, it is forbidden to camp inside the Reserve. The porters can stay here. I'm content to climb up to the ridge and photograph the surroundings. A spur in front of me covers a good part of the face of the Nanda Devi. But I feel full with being in front of the mountain of my dreams. I will never get closer! Who knows!

I think then I did not think much about my future, or anyone. Only present. A little more than a year ago I had left my job and not for a moment imagined that my new profession was going to be traveling the world with a camera and a pen.

It is after 9 when we are going to start the return. I think it will be a long trot to go back to Lata Kharak. I camp halfway. The porters can continue, as originally planned, to the Lata Kharak hut.

Again, after the first long climb, the hard crossing of the rough gorges of Satkhula, at times is wrapped in fog. After the passage of Jhandidar, as almost everything is descent, I decide to continue. Again, during the last two hours I have to stop, first every twenty minutes, then every ten. When I see the rocks crowned by orange flags that announce the cabin, something below, I feel a good time to say goodbye to the great mountains. I think aging is like climbing one of them.

Day 7

At a stretch, we descent through the forest to the village and then to the highway. We are on top of a wall with the ground three meters below. Soon after we are in Joshimath. And I am happy, happy, proud of what has been done. I feel younger. Already down the forest I thought about my trekking next year. Or do I keep it for when I'm about to turn eighty?

While it is true that I was never in Mumbai, the business city of India, Calcutta, is the city that is most western I found of all visited so far. Not only for its physical appearance, with buildings such as the Victoria Memorial, but also for the infrastructure, its people and why not say its prices.

We arrived at 10 in the morning to the famous Howrah station. As soon as I get off the train, the overwhelming feeling returns to my body. As they had already told us, just after leaving the station we found the prepaid taxis. So the first thing we do is stop in a long queue, which in the end was not so much. In 15 minutes we were requesting our taxi to the backpacking neighborhood of Calcutta, Sudder Street, and its surroundings.

Our welcome to Calcutta could not be better. We were surprised by the monsoon as soon as we got off the taxi that left us in front of the hotel that was recommended in our Lonely Planet, which becomes our bible during a trip. So, we got into the first hotel but the rooms cost 2000 INR, a price that we were clear that we were not going to pay. We waited for it to stop raining to go out in search of more.

We ended up in a one that cost us 900 INR and the state was not at all comparable with its price. I do not remember the name but it was parallel to sudder street and on the way to the new market of Calcutta. We enjoyed some great chicken skewers at the end of Sudder Street, although I notice that they sting a lot!

Grabbing a rickshaw and giving some good walks I start the tour of the city. I visit its vibrant markets and not forgetting to taste the Bengali cuisine. The food stalls on the street are the most succulent. As I have already said many times, in India, there is a great culture of "eating". It is eaten anywhere, at any time of the day.

The street food in Kolkata, although not always healthy (only God knows how many times this oil is reused), has a price that makes it accessible to most of the population. For very little money, it takes away your hunger with a plate of noodles or a masala dosa. There is fried rice with vegetables. Any of these dishes, in one of the countless stalls on the street, will never exceed 15 or 20 rupees. And if you still want to spend less, or just want a snack, for five or, at most, ten rupees you can be equally satiated.



Here are some of the popular ones:

Samosas

The street food par excellence. Something like a dumpling, chubby and triangular, singara is made from a dough of flour and stuffed with vegetables, potatoes or even meat, less often than not. Watch out! They also carry chili and many spices, so it's better to have a bottle of water nearby. Once you get used to it, they are very good, and for five rupees you buy a piece (people usually eat them in pairs) that fills you up for a long time.

Pakoras

Fried vegetables, as a donut, in chickpea flour. The most popular are those of spinach, onion, eggplant, cauliflower although it is also possible to find of meat (chicken). They are taken as a snack, or as an entree at meals. A good cone of newspaper paper full of them costs five rupees on the street.

Kachori

Flour dough rounded and crushed, stuffed with moong dal (green soy), lentils, chickpeas. All very spicy and fried afterward. Like the samosas, they usually serve in pairs on a leaf like a bowl, bathed in different sauces. There is also a sweet version, filled with ingredients such as coconut and sugar.

Aloo Tikki

Cooked potato and then fried that can be eaten alone, crumbled and bathed in different sauces (some spicy, and other sweet, to soften its flavor), served on a banana leaf. It is also not uncommon to find them in their original form (that is, without shredding) in hamburgers, as a substitute for meat. It is very popular, and it is seen everywhere.

Fritters in general

There are so many that it would be impossible for me to name them all. For example, in the third picture of this entry (that of the pakoras), you can see some triangular things in the foreground. What are they? Well, nothing more or less than what it seems: mold bread. Fried bread mold in the same flour as the pakoras, on oil, and sometimes filled with meat or vegetables.

In addition to the fritters, the amount of carts with nuts, homemade cookies, fruit is immeasurable. Another of the star appetizers, of which I do not remember the name, is a kind of "salad" made from everything that the man could carry in his car, but especially chickpeas, parsley, tomato, pepper, onion, peanuts. all very minced and seasoned with chili, pepper and a splash of lemon. Despite its light appearance, it fills a lot.

Sweets (Mithai)

The Indians love sweets. To prove it, you just have to go for a while on any street, and in less than five minutes you stumble upon two or three bakeries full of these little delicacies wrapped in aluminum foil (which, although your first instinct is to remove it, you must know that it is eatable).

Indian sweets are very sweet. Tremendously cloying, or delicious, depending on what you see. The base of all of them is sugar, flour, and milk, to which is added coconut, honey, dulce de leche, pistachio, almond ... depending on what you touch. The variety is so much that I'm just going to leave you with the photo, and everyone who imagines what they want.

Its flavor is at the height of its appearance. As a curiosity, the only one that I do not like at all, is also one of the most popular. The Jalebi is a dipped mass in syrup that is poured into a kettle full of oil where it is fried forming the most capricious forms.

Paan

To finish the meal, nothing better than a good paan (or so say the Indians). The betel nut, lime pulp, spices and many condiments are all wrapped in a sheet with edible betel leaf. There are two varieties of the sweet and the salty, which also carries tobacco.

In theory, it is taken as a digestive and mouth refresher, but the betel nut also has narcotic-stimulating properties. It is rare to find an Indian who does not like it. That's why everyone has red-blackish teeth, since the consumption of betel, in the long run, rots the root of the tooth.

Drinks: the chai

The chai is the national drink. The milk tea is very sweet and almost always, with many spices (masala chai), which give a very intense flavor. Simply delicious

Chai sellers are countless, and it is not uncommon to find five in the same corner (the Indians have no sense of competition), around which accumulate mountains of ice cubes of small clay containers used as a glass that go you know why they are of a single use.

Drinks: the lassi

The lassi we have already spoken many times is a drink based on yogurt smoothie. The variants are plain lassi, with sugar or salt. Within the sweet variety, in any restaurant, we can find banana lassi, orange lassi, mango lassi and even chocolate lassi. The options are endless.

Drinks: fruit juices

And to finish, there are the juices of orange, pineapple, mango, sugar cane. Made with fresh, refreshing and delicious fruit. For the watermelon, which I had not tried so far, I simply do not have words. One warning. If you drink on the street, be careful with water or ice!
Office decor

Most offices do not smell good, but you know that to improve the quality of the work environment is also very important. Aromatherapy and environmental care and the location of the workplace can be critical to increase productivity and reduce work stress. The smells and scents have the power to stimulate in us our moods.
One thing that many will agree is that finding the best hotels in Kolkata can be a real challenge. How to choose the best hotel that best suits your needs? Finding an ideal list of hotels in Kolkata is not always an easy thing especially if you decide to opt for a budget hotel in Kolkata.

In Kolkata, a large number of hotels are in the neighborhood of Chowringhee and precisely in Sudder street. But not all hotels are comfortable in Chowringhee and are decent. They often hide behind facades with rooms in poor condition. In some cases, it is the exact opposite, which is why you should always ask to see the room before you occupy it. There are certain criteria that you should definitely consider before doing a hotel booking in Kolkata.



Where do you come from?

If you arrive with a cheap flight that lands after 10 pm you are likely to arrive in the central hub of the city at midnight, if not later. At this point you will not want to waste any time and hours of sleep, wandering into the night in search of the right bus or an expensive taxi. Then choose a hotel near the airport, and you will be fresh and rested for your first morning in Kolkata.

A Cultural holiday in Kolkata


If it is the festivals and culture that pushes you to Kolkata then I recommend a hotel in North or South Kolkata positioned to attend the festivals conveniently, so that you can return to your room after an evening walk to the festivals. Keep in mind that of course, the hotels in East and South Kolkata are more expensive than other areas.

Kolkata Nightlife


If it is the Kolkata nightlife, with its rock'n'roll and its electronic music clubs that attracts you then you should stay in a hotel near Park Street in order to avoid long journeys on buses at night.

Hunting for sale in Kolkata

Whether you want to take advantage of sales during the spring sale, but also at any other time of year, places like Chowringhee and Sudder Street is a paradise for anyone hunting for balances and missed opportunities or even just for shopping. For this be at a hotel in the center, so you do not have to get on public transport with loads of bags. Try to find a hotel near Sudder Street. There are many, economical ones and it is not too far away from your shopping destination.

If you're looking for cheap hotels for your stay in Kolkata then I recommend some areas a little more distant from the center but easily accessible by public transport and offer economical prices for the hotels.

An alternative place where to look for hotels in the area south of Kolkata, a little less congested than the center and served by the underground metro railway. The prices are higher than at Chowringhee. Hotels in the Bengal capital is no shortage but, for those accustomed to quality standards choosing a good hotel is definitely complex.

Choosing a hotel in Kolkata depends mainly on two factors closely related to one another the distance from the central hub and the price you want to pay. Obviously, most hotels in the central area are definitely much more comfortable. You can walk to the main tourist attractions and you may return to your room whenever you feel like it.

In this case, you have to be aware that you will hardly find a good hotel at a price too low or, if not, before you book a room it is good that you ask the hotel manager about cleaning and services offered.
Kolkata compared to other neighboring cities, has a highly efficient transport network and also has the metro and you will have countless Taxis and buses that will lead from one side of the city without problems.

Moving a little to the central Kolkata towards North Kolkata will allow you to find more easily find cheap hotels but keep in mind that you may have to compromise with the quality.

My tips on choosing a good hotel in Kolkata will be to first set yourself a budget. Decide how many days you want to stay in Kolkata. Consider whether it is better to stay downtown and spend more on the hotel or move to peripheral areas saving in hotel bills but spending on tickets. Take a ride on the metro to obtain information on accommodation, the neighborhood, etc.

Calculate the displacements and the time that you put to achieve the desired goals as if your hotel is far away you will need much more time, and money, to get to the center. Kolkata is quite a very economical city. Therefore, evaluate well when you choose your hotel. In the end, what you save with the hotel you may spend on transport.