One thing I remember about my 1998 tour of the eastern Himalayas is learning that Cedrus deodora - which I know from the many magnificent show specimens in Berkeley - are native not to the Himalayas in general but to the WESTERN Himalayas. They're also not as showy in their native habitat as they are when planted separated from neighbors.

Arriving in Darjeeling, this time, at least I didn't  expect to see deodars. I did hope, however, to see mountains which, because of thick fog, I missed out on in 1998 and in most of my other visits in northern India and Nepal. I was not disappointed. Almost all of the northern quadrant of Darjeeling's horizon is filled with Kanchenjunga. Darjeeling is dominated by the mountain, visually as well as by its presence. Perhaps, if I stayed here, I would get used to it, just as I've gotten used to the unparalleled view of San Francisco and the bay from my living room window. Nevertheless, many of the photos here include the mountain, even when the mountain isn't their focus.

No Indian hill station is easily gotten to. The British bureaucracy in India, after all, with their trailing wagon trains of household goods and servants, took weeks each year for their seasonal migration from the hot plains to the comfortable and healthy climates of Darjeeling, Mussourie, Shimla, and Ooty. For us, today, coming from the US, there's only a relatively short hiatus in the unwelcoming Delhi airport, a few hours flight east to Bagdogra, and a pleasant four hour taxi drive (in day time if you're lucky) north into the mountains and Darjeeling.

Building in the hills, as we may know, requires precipitous and abruptly winding "short-cuts", where cars don't go and people venture only if they're able. I was not able to start with but I went anyway. In a few days, I became somewhat abler; staying in a hotel the better part of a hundred stairs up from the street "helped" my conditioning. I walked a lot in a week and, although the photos capture the moment when I stopped, to get the best idea of what I most did in Darjeeling, you have to imagine the intervening steps, the space between photos.

Over dinner I often took notes on my activities of the day and summarized those notes with a "diary" or travelogue which I emailed to a few friends along with three or four photos I had taken that day. You can find the two issues I prepared in Darjeeling, here although the photos here are better than the small ones I was able to get past the "censor of inadequate wifi" that exists in this part of the world.