Barely a couple of hours ago, we had lost a fantastic mobile phone, and yet sitting in a local bus of Sikkim, it didn't take me long to fall in love with this northeastern state of India. The reason was simple - for the very first time in my life I had seen a well-mannered Lhasa Apso (any dog, for that matter) board a bus and sit quietly next to the driver for more than two hours. The dog wasn't the driver's pet - it was accompanying a woman traveling from Rangpo to Gangtok. It was quite intriguing to see the dog and the humans around so comfortable in each other's presence.
This is just one aspect of Sikkim that is apparent as soon as you step foot here. It is a comfortable state - home to accommodating people, well-mannered pets, pleasing aesthetics, and general goodnaturedness. One of the first things that struck us as we entered Sikkim was how well-dressed and well-groomed everyone was. From hairstyles to clothes to shoes, there was no dearth of well-groomed people. And this wasn't specific to any age group. It was evident that people here are particular to the extent that even when they are doing a job where they are bound to get dirty (such as breaking rocks at roadsides), they dress well.
To get some idea of their fashion sense, click here. Coming back to the discussion about pets, especially dogs (aww!), we were surprised to see how well-behaved all pet dogs we ran into were. Throughout our stay, we didn't hear any of them utter so much as a whimper, let alone a bark. The bus dog included. The homestay we stayed in, The Mazong Hotel, had a pet Lhasa Apso. The dog had a set schedule in the morning. At around 7am, it would be let out. It would roam around and and do its business. After about 45 minutes it would go and sit in front of the main entrance and wait for rest of the household to wake up. It would wait patiently for someone to open the door and let it in. It wouldn't scratch the door or whimper or bark. I found it quite amusing and surprising. It was a friendly dog and would come up and say hello whenever it would see us out on the porch, and never once did we feel intimidated.
Needless to say, we were impressed. Not only do Sikkimese people appreciate the finer things in life, they also know how to deal with them. Another example in the same vein is flowers. Almost all houses in Sikkim, be it independent houses or floors on the highway have flowers going around them. You will find colorful winter and spring flowers in balconies, on porches, in the gardens. This was true, not only in Gangtok, but also in small towns and tiny villages. Most of the above are things that we barely stop to think about. However, looking at the general attitude and happiness levels of the people in Sikkim, I think that if we do stop and smell a rose, pet or play with a dog, and indulge ourselves at times, we can steal at least a few moments of bliss out of our otherwise stressful lives. It does indeed suddenly seem that our happiness is indeed in our own hands. At least at times. :)