Bunfights Are Better With Friends

I thoroughly enjoy adding new terms to my general lexicon, and while scanning my Lonely Planet for deets on the famed Darjeeling sunrise overlooking the 3rd highest mountain in the world, I found a new doozy: Bunfight.

What it means? I can only imagine, as it was used to describe the mayhem of the crowds that jostle to catch the best glimpse of nature’s morning spectacle. And once in the midst of the pulsing, pushing, shoving masses, and as one woman’s hand pinched my waist, and another’s poked my back, I intrinsically understood the obvious: I was in the midst of one HELL of a bunfight.

And I wasn’t alone. As Ayaz and I made our way to Darjeeling (see pictures) from Bodhgaya, we started to amass a motley crew of new friends. Among the players was a Buddhist monk (known to us with appropriate mysteriousness as, “Teacher”) and his gregarious and camera-happy student  both from Thailand, 2 Spanish sisters, an American couple, and a local Darjeeling university student, apparently along for the ride.

The monks and Americans appeared to us as we disembarked our overnight train in Siliguri, the Spanish girls we met even earlier, on a bus ride to Patna, a transit hub. Unexpectedly, a group of friends. And so it is with travel … perhaps the best part.

At 4 a.m., a lot of silliness and bad jokes are inevitable (“Time to make the momos!”), and the obscenely early morning excursion was filled with jokes and laughter and stories, and gratuitous language lessons (who knew the name of said 3rd highest mountain — Mt. Kanchendzonga– pronounced in Thai means “itchy jungle”?) and general good, good times.

Nearly daily, our paths cross with new folks to chat with from around the globe, and in those fleeting or extended encounters, connections are made, lives are touched, and my world continues to grow just a little bit larger.

And for that, I am grateful.


  1. The pure joy of travel. I’m fascinated by the constant reminder of how small our world is when traveling. Whether I was in Africa or Italy, I always meet people from the US, for example, and I always have that “duh” moment… “There are people like me, traveling to Senegal at the same time and from the same state (and/or continent).”

    “Yes, RaniRo. You’re not in this world alone.” And with that, my ramble has ended.


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