It was a pleasant summer day – bright sun, blue sky, puffy cumulus clouds and an occasional gentle breeze. There was a flurry of activity at the station as the coal-fired locomotive of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway huffed and puffed. Its murky smoke mingled freely with the chai, samosas and sel rotis, amid occasional cries of “chai, chai”.
Everything at the station – Buddhist prayer flags, a lively Indian bazaar, chai and an original Darjeeling Himalayan Railway engine, together with the weather – gave it the appearance of being in Darjeeling, except for one minor detail: there were no Himalayas or lush tea gardens in the far distance. For this was no Darjeeling station, but a replica in an idyllic English town.