Anand Elangbam

A real nutty character who is an epicurean to the hilt... someone who thinks life is how we perceive and conceive it, not what we've been offered, a lover of nature, wildlife and an environmentalist to the core... An amateur artist, photographer, writer and A total Music Buff...

Thursday, October 6, 2016

A detour to Gangtok (Sikkim) a.k.a.The land of mystic splendour

Gangtok from my hotel, Tashi Delek
For some, the thirst for adventure and journey to the unknown are hard to contain and when opportunity Knocks, I couldn’t let it pass without seeing the land of mystic splendor or Gangtok. Also, endearingly referred to as the Eight Sister States of North East India, Sikkim has been on my mind for a long time. It is perhaps because I had so many friends from my St. Stephen’s College days and D.U. days.  I still remember those fantastic Sikkim House Parties and Darjeeling Parties during our graduation years. The aggressive tourism promotion of the State in recent years might also have influenced me to explore this mystical place, and after some really picturesque photographs got uploaded by friends on Facebook, I was committed to this visit hook line and sinker.
Lifeline of Sikkim: The River Teesta
Enjoying a hearty breakfast at MG Road
Call it destiny or whatever, I became good friends with two government servants from Sikkim during a short training at Shillong and Bhopal. The two elegant ladies were responsible for the final decision to take a detour before reaching home from my long vacation. Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim has been on news for all the right reasons in recent times. It holds promises of being one of the greenest and environmentally caring Government and people. What I didn’t expect was the logistic of traveling to this remote region and its topography!  Like all North Eastern States of India, I found that the biggest challenge here was also accessibility and transportation. To reach Gangtok, one must travel by train or plane to Bagdogra, Siliguri from a limited number of Metros. There are shared taxis and Innova cars for hire and one must drive through Siliguri and Darjeeling (all in West Bengal) before closing in on to Sikkim. The drive to Sikkim goes through one of the most picturesque highways of India, all along the beautiful Teesta River. It takes you approximately 5 (five) hours to reach Gangtok from Bagdogra.
MG Road Gangtok, where the universe converge
Deorali Chorten, Adjacent to NIT.
Enjoying the waterfall at the creepy Shaman's place
The next generation monks at Namgyal Institute
A village stall selling Sikkimese Snacks 
Where prayers are written to the sentient beings 
The famous Changu Lake
A decorated Yak to attract the tourist at Changu Lake
While Imphal valley is elevated at approximately 786 M, Gangtok is about 1600 M above sea level. There are only 4 (four) districts in Sikkim, which are simply referred to as also North, South, East and West Sikkim. The sheer climb on the mountainous road meant getting used to high altitude and calm resilience to nature’s wrath like occasional landslides, earthquakes, torrential rains, etc…  and in my mind, it is the very essence or the source of the temperament and culture of North East people of India -  Quiet, Laid back, Tolerant, Resilient and Strong.
The centre of Universe for every traveler to Gangtok has to be M.G. Road or Mahatma Gandhi Road. The Government has cleverly invested in making it look like some European city centre or square where on the street corner, a makeshift stage is put up every evening for cultural and other entertainment shows. The streets are well decorated with flower beds and paved with tiles and bricks against the backdrop of fancy stores. Add a variety of restaurants and bars to go with the celebratory ambience in the evening and what do you get? Yes, the ace card that makes Sikkim such a great Tourist Destination is through the legalization of liquor manufactures and sales from which maximum revenue is generated, beside Tourism, Education and others.
Enjoying Rumtek Monastery with Chunni, another dearest friend & host
With Wangmu Sonam, one of the  dearest friend & host
Gangtok offers a treasure cove of beautiful architecture and style when one observes the magnificent monasteries and temples with keen eyes. For adventurers and hikers, there are some treks in the mountains that are worth sweating for. A memorable visit to Rumtek Monastery and window shopping in ubiquitous curio shops is fun to start with. Wai Wai and Maggi, beside Momos are the most favorite and cheap snacks to be taken with their tasty local Temi Tea while sightseeing. A visit to Namgyal Institute of Tibetology and Directorate of Handicrafts and Handloom could be a fulfilling experience intellectually and shopaholically!
Indo China border at Nathu La pass
For someone venturing in to this mountain, one cannot return home without a trip to the Indo-China border at Nathu La Pass. It is a full tour package, and tourists are obligated to pay some fees, submit 2 passport photographs and copy of I.D. or Adhaar card for identification to any travel agent without which a trip is not possible. This is one of the subtle and effective ways in which State Tourism generates income from visitors for the benefit of the local business. This full-fledged sight-seeing  include a stop-over at Baba Harbhajan Singh Memorial Temple and Changu Lake, where domesticated Yaks are used by the poor locals to attract tourist for a short ride and photography. Baba Harbhajan Singh’s story is an interesting one where this young soldier gets killed during the Indo China War and his spirit continued to haunt the place, helping Indian soldiers to avoid many catastrophes through dreams and signs. Such is the beliefs so strong that legends abound of his feats even after his death and so, the Indian Government decided to posthumously build a memorial temple, his personal properties and room kept intake and Train reservations made as well as his salaries paid till he attained the age of retirement till very recently!

My most favorite photograph of my last supper
Chung, the local wine of millet
An exquisite array of homecooked Sikkimese meal of rice, edible orchids, pork, herbs, mushroom, etc., all prepared in my honor by my beautiful and generous friends became the highlight of my short trip. That was when I could finally lay my greedy hands on some of the most delicious Sikimese cuisines I have ever tasted, taken with a traditional wine called “Chung” prepared with fermented millets and drank, using a bamboo straw . Another experience captured, another memory created for life, and a friendship that will be cherished during my lifetime. In due course, I also invited my friends to visit Manipur or Kangleipak (the name I prefer) and bade a warm farewell to some of the most hospitable people I have ever known in my life. I confess, I am one hell of a lucky person and I have such a great sense of gratitude for being surrounded by some of the best people I have the privilege of calling “MY GREAT FRIENDS” in this world, My playground.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

My Japan Sensation September 2016: Is it the Land of the Rising Sun or Land of a highly advanced Aliens? Let's find out...

Sharing my magical moments of the Journey

Nipon flag at Sumo
Having never made use of a local travel agent for visa process before, I thought, ‘what the hell? Let’s try it this time!’ My patient friend from Tokyo made no complaints whatsoever in all those days of documentation and correspondence, made over-complicated by my travel agent’s handlers from Kolkata and Delhi. Yes, it’s not advisable to use a travel agent to pursue a visa, especially when you’re a seasoned traveller like myself. I learned my lesson the hard way, all because I belong to this remote region of North East, far away from where they issue visa in Delhi! But after a lot of heartache uncertainties and irritation, I did get my tourist visa for 30 days to visit Japan.
A heritage metro station near Meiji Shrine
A japanese curio shop
Shirakawago, heritage village
The magical Arashiyama bamboo grove
My dearest college mate, Aalok Kumar
Yusuke Ogawa, my local guardian angel

Camping on the foothills of Fuji at Motosuko lake
Most crowded Shibuya Crossing
Tokyo Tower
Kimono clad beauties at Asakusa Shrine
With two admirers :) at Asakusa
The required list of documents are available on the official website of Japan including the downloadable forms. So, no worries, even if you’re a green horn traveler! Just google and get on the wagon of exploring using the Internet. It helps. Get a credit card or prepaid travel card with JPY or Japanese Yen and few cash ready for your journey ahead. Second, A Japan rail pass or JR Pass is a must have if you’re traveling for the first time and if you’re a budget traveler like myself. They are priced at subsidized rate and available online only to foreign tourists, while still outside Japan or also, available while still inside the airport.  Book hotels or hostels or whatever takes your fancy, a Ryokan or Inn online using Once you arrive at their two most important international airports, Narita or Hanega, be sure to buy a pre-paid local Sim card for the best deals. Language is not such an issue as I feared initially, at least in the airport!
World's biggest fish market and Shushi

A Shinto Wedding at Meiji Shrine
A cute commuter from my station Hiro-o
It pays to prepare your travel itinerary before you land. Saves a lot of time and confusion. On reaching a metro station, get down to the basics of saving mode. Get a Passmo or Japanese Metro Pass, by using the ubiquitous kiosks and vending machines, after choosing your choice of language of course. Oh wait! They have only Japanese and English hmm… Thank God, for small mercies! Now, all you need to know about the trains in Japan is that they all run on time. will tell you at least 5 best routes and trains to reach from your station to your destination.

Hiroshima Castle
Where wild deer roams with tourists at Miyajima Island
Apps must have are citymap or google map and are a must too because nobody talks to nobody in Japan while traveling hahah… just kidding but seriously, they are a quiet lot and rarely communicate. Yes, taking a phone call while traveling in public transport is a no no! You will only see them sleeping, staring in space or just staring on their smart phones, i.e. when the gentlemen and ladies in black and white suits are not fanning themselves. I tell you, it’s a sight that tickles my funny bones and just to watch this amazing race discreetly became one of my favorite ways for time-pass. An umbrella, if you’re traveling during rainy season. With this, you’re well equipped to explore Japan, the Land of the Rising Sun. Easy, Nah? Lolss…. Not really!

A Samurai posing at a Ryokan, antique inn at Takayama
Ebi Tempura and Rice 

A romantic cruise at Hakone

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Revival of Inspirational Poems

  After a long time of recess, I am posting these two poems I have written  a while back and hope that I will get inspired to write more in future...

An Ode to Shiroy Lily
Shiroy Lily! The inspiration of many a poets and writers,
Easy to imagine but hidden from the prying eyes of the mere mortals,
Far away across a barrier of mountains at Shirui hills,
Like a heavenly damsel that cannot be conquered by the ordinary,
Hidden away like God's relics amongst the cotton clouds,
She welcomes only the intrepid admirers to cherish its beauty.
One must climb a thousand stairways to heaven,
Walk miles across wild grass and green forest of yonder years,
Carrying a dream, like sword to slay the dragons of failure,
Only the determined are honoured to pay homage to her abode.
And when I finally stood proud as a stallion at the summit,
Humbled and in awe of the challenge I faced with silent determination,
As with weary limbs and slithering sweat,
I realizied that it was worth all the pain and the struggle,
For the final glimpse of a vision, which was once a dream.
Andy E.

April Inspiration!

As the rain stop falling through the April leaves,
Robins perching on the bamboo swing and sing,
Frolicking, and Awake; from a night of slumber,
While pairs of wild doves in an ecstatic shiver of companionship,
Dance to the rhythm of the rustling morning breeze.

And as I gaze through the crystal glass,
That, which separates my world from theirs,
I feel a curious sense of peace and wonder,
Like droplets that trickles down the wet leaves,
An April Inspiration, perhaps!

Of good things that comes to life,
Like in so many ways prevail,
Even after a dreary night of lights and sounds,
In an epic drama of life that is as bewitching as real,
There’s yet a Hope, as tranquil as this April morning.

Andy E.

Thursday, October 25, 2012



Author: Andy Elangbam. (All works are original and non-fiction. Copyrights are exclusively reserved by the author, Thank you).

Prologue: The lyrical melody that best describes my road trip to parts of Europe might be something like this, “ Where do I begin, to tell the story of how great a love can be, the sweet love story that is older than the sea…”

Yes, my love story with Europe goes back as far as the time when I used to spend hours mooning over places I would visit one day, skimming through those colorful postcards, pictures and illustrations that I could lay my hands on during library hours in school and college. When friends and acquaintances asked my motives for going to Europe, I have often called it, “ a sort of pilgrimage.” Ending up as a history honours student in College and University was perhaps not a coincidence, even though I had my doubts in the past. Learning and teaching history, geography and political sciences also helped sustain the passion for traveling and exploring.

The Planning:

All plans for visiting a college mate in Japan were made for September 2012 when out of the blue, a friend who also loves traveling suggested that it would be nice to drive around Europe. I had been to England and a couple of places only last year but the prospect of going on a road trip was too tempting to resist. From that moment on, I took the initiative for reservation of air-ticket through my travel agent. We got a fair deal and within days, my friend and I were on the net, planning and preparing our itineraries. Whereas I got the flight ticket for both of us, my traveling companion did almost all the booking for hostels and the rentals because I could not do it without a credit card. Everything went in haze after that because we were busy trying to find time between our office work and our upcoming trip. Needless to say, we ended up running short of time for a much needed homework and research. Yet, I decided that the uncertainties of not planning everything well were half the fun of traveling too!

The disadvantages of living in a remote region like Manipur came to the fore when we had to fly to Kolkata to get our visas, weeks before our actual journey started. It meant extra and unnecessary expenditure, even though we took it as a short break from the monotony of life. Our stay there was spent running around (literally!) for application of visa, gobbling down nice and expensive food in restaurants, window shopping in mall and watching a great movie of the newly released “The Dark Knight returns.” The movie was awesome.

The interim period in Imphal was filled with a sense of dejavu and tension while we waited for the confirmation of our Shengen visa for two weeks. The confirmation came on the 15th day and we got it finally, even though the person who was carrying it delayed it by few more days due to miscommunication. We left Imphal on a warm sunny afternoon of 8th September, 2012 by Kingfisher for our onward journey to Paris from New Delhi on the 10th midnight.
(to be continued)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Visiting Manchester City, Lake District & Friends, Cumbria, UK.

Inspiration of William Wordsworth & English Industrial Revolution!

Prologue: This chronicle is a continuation to my previous series of Visiting UK that I stopped uploading for quite sometime due to various issues. My journey would continue further after this...

For those soccer fans, Manchester United would be considered as one of the best club teams of the world. For a person with a passion for History, Manchester City meant as one of the most important places of Industrial Revolution in England. Lake District was also home to the famous English poet, William Wordsworth .

One need not wonder from where he got the inspiration to write such famous nature poems if one visits Lake District in Cumbria, UK. My visit to meet Manish and Linthoi who lived in Manchester City began on a train from Coventry. It was a beautiful journey across fantastic English countrysides and I found out that there were two stations. The first one was called Manchester city University and the other being, Manchester City Picadilly, which came later and that’s where I got down. I had a phone and I wasn’t worried because Manish was there to pick me up at the station. On our way to his house, I saw old mills and many warehouses, which reminded that I was truly lucky to be visiting a place of such historical importance. A place I read about once as a History graduate in the European History Class. The station was bigger than most of the others I had been to and it took sometime for both of us to meet finally. He was driving a cute red mini and confessed with an embarrassed sigh that Linthoi had taken the bigger car to London to pick up her parents. We had already discussed that I would not be meeting Linthoi as she would be there to watch one of the Wimbledon matches with her parents whom she had gone to pick up from Heathrow. I was quite amazed that she went driving alone too. It was regrettable but at least, Manish was there to play the host to me fortunately.

Manish and I had plans to visit Lake District and later, I would be traveling alone to Edinburgh, Scotland. Their house was in the suburb and what a house! It was a beautiful typical modern English home in an equally amazing neighbourhood. I could see chapels and rolling green hills from their backyard. The air was a bit chilly but I was really happy that I made it this far. We had the house to ourselves and I cooked a meal, helped by Manish. He took me around for a short drive and I had to take out some cash from the atm with my travel card. We spent the better part of the evening making plans for my journey to Edinburgh, booked my train ticket using Manish’s credit card and I paid him in cash. We had to go to Lake District the next day and the following day, I would be on my way to Edinburgh. I booked my hostel room on the phone at Edinburgh.

Our drive to Lake District in Cumbria was simply a heavenly experience. The homes were curiously built with black slabs of stones and the place was hilly with beautiful lakes and narrow roads. I read somewhere that the best way to tour Lake District was to backpack and walk around. I understood the reason why and regretted that I had only a limited time to achieve that feat. We went boating and then, Manish wanted to take me more into the interior to an isolated lake and on our way, we had lunch at a typical English Inn. I decided to try the roast chicken, beer and Yorkshire pudding. It was tasty and light. I saw beautiful rolling hills of Lake District, and Manish confirmed that due to it close proximity to Scotland, the topography was pretty similar. He showed me a Quarry on top of a rocky hill and the view was breathetaking. I even thought it was quite similar to scenes of Manipur, only cleaner and free of dust! What fascinated me were the long and unending stone walls, crisscrosed on the landscape, which is a universal sight everywhere in England. It was a remnant of the Pre-Industrial Revolution in a phenomenon called “enclosures” when private property began to be enclosed by individual property owners. It was a pre-cursor to Capitalism and Industrial Revolution, which incidentally flourished in Manchester, England during the 18 & 19th Century.

Manish dropped me at the station the following day and I was on my way to Edinburgh to see Scotland. The land of the Braveheart and Highlanders!