Smiling Faces and Fat Dogs in Darjeeling

There is a way to tell what the health and wellness is like in any area that you may visit. Take a look at their dogs. Are the dogs healthy? Do they run scared when you pass, or growl and snarl to keep you at bay? Are they kept on leashes or allowed to roam freely? There is a very good chance that if the dogs are fat and happy, lounging lazily in the streets, then the people in that area are kind and mindful.

Take Darjeeling for example. If you have traveled through parts of India, you will certainly have noticed the sad lives of dogs. When entering the mountain top streets in Darjeeling, you will find another situation entirely. Often laying in the middle of the walking path, or bouncing down the side of the road, are dogs that still have all their hair, look well fed, and are friendly to the people they pass. Their tails are wagging, and they might even come up to elicit a pet from you.


flickr image by Abhishek_Kumar

Equally evident is the health and happiness in the faces of the people of Darjeeling. One must only walk along the city center, past the area where cars are allowed, and people can be seen exercising at all hours of the day. Older people line the benches at the sides of the paths, watching the passers by. Joggers and speed walkers move around the hilltop path, stopping occasionally to chat with friends or offer a little prayer at one of the many shrines along the way.

Maybe this all has to do with the fresh air. Because of its high altitude, Darjeeling is filled with fresh air. Despite the typical India emission problems, the air is fresher during walks and exercises.

Perhaps it has to do with the history of sherpas, and the famous people that have lead expeditions based in Darjeeling. There is actually a small museum where you can see the history of climbs that have taken place on Mt Everest, and a special statue in honor of the Darjeeling son, Tenzig Norgay, who is one of the most famous mountain climbers of all times. Trekking is very popular in the area, and the altitude in Darjeeling is a perfect place for people to train for bigger and tougher climbs. It is possible that the trekking spirit permeates through the rest of the community of Darjeeling.

Maybe it is the wonderful views that the people are blessed with. One can see kilometers and kilometers in all directions with the right vantage point. Green valleys spread out into the distance with the jagged grey Himalayan peaks popping out from behind the clouds occasionally. Who would not feel good and smile regularly if they had a chance to see that magnificent view each day.

It is also very possible that the smiling faces and fat dogs come from the heavily Buddhist influences on Darjeeling. Buddha spoke of acceptance, compassion and love of fellow man. He also insisted that the same respect and love be offered to all animals. Any visit to one of the spectacular Buddhist temples and monasteries in the area will certainly produce more smiling faces.

There are a number of things that can contribute to the feeling of generosity and wellness in Darjeeling. There is not one answer to this dilemma, and who would need one. The best thing about it all is that when you visit this inspiring city, be ready for warm tea and warm smiles.

Date posted: 11th March, 2013

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