What a wonderful experience this was ! Putting the last couple of days ( Daniel being robbed ) behind us we headed our for a long, brilliant walk through some of the beautiful mountain communities of Darjeeling..had to have a tea along the way ...
I was constantly on the look out a flat space to play footy , but they are scarce in this very steep terrain .
Back at our digs , Dan went to chill and I grabbed my ball and wandered off down a steep mountain side for about a kilometre . In the back of my mind was the fear and dread that I would have to drag my chubby asthmatic body back up this sheer mountain side later on .....all for a game of footy ....
After waking down hill for about 20 minutes I bumped into a chap coming out of his house. This turned out to be 65 year old Santosh Chettri . What an absolute gentleman . He showed me down to a space by the community centre of his village, Jagriti Sewak Samiti .
Santosh alerted his mate Ashok Rai (also 65 ) and his grandson Avinav Chettri (16) who asked his mates of the same age Nadeem Siddique and Nikhil Tanang to play.
Incredible to play a game half way up a mountain ! The lads brought the jumpers in to make the goals small, with a barrier behind each , as any wayward shot could mean a sprint down the mountain to get the ball back !
Great game ! 3 v 3 ..oldies v youngies. We held them young whippersnappers at bay for a good 26 seconds before conceding ! Santosh has some energy for 65 ! More than me that’s for sure ..but we were no match for the rapid, technical Nikhil, the intelligent passing of Nadeem and the calm , assured play of Avinav . We tried as hard as we could but it was like Dads Army playing skilful cheeky cheetahs ..needless to say we lost 3-0 !
The lads , a Muslim a Buddhist and a Hindu , had been close friends since they were small .
There is much more to this story which I’ll stick in the book... oh, and luckily for me (and bad for the bike ) Avinav gave me a lift back up the mountain at the end to save my lungs .
What a wonderful warm welcome from incredibly kind and respectful people. 👍❤️