Our flight to Mumbai passed with speed and ease, helped by good service and free booze.

For Joe, the highlight came halfway through when I went to fetch some water from the cabin area. A conversation he had with an Indian man that touched him so much he wanted to write a (brief) post specifically on his wise words.

Nik Karia is blood-Indian who grew up in wealthy Africa on an landed estate before being sent for training as a Doctor in Puna. He has four children, one of which is now training as a Gurkha. “Gurkhas and the people of Darjeeling are good people“, said Nik, “that is why the Queen gets them to guard her palace. “

“You will love India “, he said, “All my English friends love India as much as me. “

“There is good and bad everywhere in the world “, he stressed, “and India will always be the way it is “. He said British people were the best in the world because they were the most tolerant, and that I should honor this by entering India with a “completely open mind, no judgement! “

He raved about Darjeeling, a place of such find memories for him that “It makes my hair stand on end just talking about it! “.

Joe learnt he climbed mount Everest in 1966 on the same climb as a 22 year old who was the first to climb with no oxygen mask.

After lengthy travel advice including foods and festivals, Nik instructed Jo to learn two sentences in every dialect and language he encounters, since “necessity is the mother of all invention.“

Within 24 hours of landing into Mumbai at 3am we’re off again, 2 flights later arriving here in Leh, a small town 3500m up in the Himalayan region. According to our rough guide we’ll need a few days to acclimatise and then we should have a few weeks to work our way across the mountainous region before the weather comes down and the roads become impassable!