It was a cold morning. Jackets, socks, caps and gloves kind of cold. The clouds lined the sky unforgivingly. Even the monkeys were unusually quiet, the regular spring missing from their step. Just then, the sun trickled in through the dense foliage. Only a minute and the world was different. Up and away in Dhanaulti, around 30kms from Mussoorie, the sombre, wintry day transformed into a February paradise. Continue reading
There’s something very special about attending a friend’s engagement. You feel a great sense of surprise that everyone is growing “big”, apprehension that the impending wedding may take your friend far away, and excitement about dressing up and digging into awesome food. And then, if you also get to explore Hyderabad – the city of Nizams – it’s a priceless combination!
*Prize Winning Entry in Air Asia’s Dream Asian Destination Contest*
Picture via tripadvisor.com
“The tallest twin towers in the world no less,” my neighbour beamed while distributing chocolates, “and the way they look all lit up is magnificent!” I nodded my head knowledgeably, previously exposed to the Petronas Towers on my little TV set. They were the landmark of Kuala Lumpur, the exquisite Malaysian city. When the neighbour wasn’t looking, I slunk away with the chocolates. They were from Beryl’s Chocolate Kingdom, Kuala Lumpur’s chocolate heaven, and previous experience with the neighbour-who-travelled assured me they’d be good.
Much later, when I sat nibbling at the little delights, I had little idea how Air Asia would equip me with just the right things to tell my snob of a neighbour. “Oh, feel free to grab another box, dear.” I would say as a matter-of-fact. “I had plenty to spend at Beryl’s.” Under my breath, I would shout out in glee for Air Asia.
A narrow gauge train is cool stuff. I have travelled with the Bhattacharjee family often enough to know a good trip from the rest. But every time I have been en-route Shimla on the cute little toy train, I have been charmed. This time lived up to tradition. As I sat gazing outside, my wooden nose scraping the window, I saw the hills change colour. From dark brown to mustard yellow to a shade of green D calls jade. Notwithstanding the ruckus that a particularly overactive family in the coach created, my heart sprung with joy.
What do ‘Dilli-wallahs’ do in Mussoorie? Well, this doesn’t have a straight answer.
One section of Dilli-wallahs is content with checking into a spruced-up hotel, preferably one that overlooks the Mall Road, and venturing out in finery to window-shop. Even real-shop, if something catches fancy. They travel to Company Bagh and appreciate the blooming flowers; they even go down to Kempty Falls and sit by the water. These people come back to their hotel for a buffet dinner that has three items in vegetarian and two in non vegetarian cuisine. They then go off to sleep, tucked in the hotel’s velvet quilt while the cold wind howls outside.
A young couple sat quietly by the sarovar, gazing at the glittering Golden Temple. The afternoon sun shone on, captivated now and then by the clear water. The girl adjusted her dazzling glass bangles. Her husband smiled as she sat fidgeting with the red and silver. Ever since they had first fallen in love, he hadn’t had eyes for anyone else.
Up the hills goes the merry little train…
We hear the whistle, see the flag, waving about in the feisty breeze.
Oft the thin tracks they swag, the train lets on a gentle wheeze.
Cheery birds of the hills they call, the mountain streams they gleam.
Steep stones stare – unsmiling all: but to everyone we beam.
On snaky rifts we thence stop, and watch the toy train crawl.
At Matheran station out we hop, our luggage then we haul.
What lies in the forests of Matheran?
Like they say in the movies, some memories last a lifetime. More than a decade has now passed since that summer in Mussoorie, but the memories are dewy fresh. It was a beautiful summer; the hills were freshly washed and the pathways strewn with blossoms…
It was sunny the morning we first met. Mom and I were all prepared for our hiking expedition on Camel Back Road – she had worn jeans after a long time and was posing for photographs in every corner that could be featured on lens. I was in the denim shorts Dad had gifted me for my tenth birthday. A middle-aged British couple gave us a cheerful nod as they passed. I had just bent down to tie my shoelaces when a musical clippity clop made me look up.
Nestled in a secluded corner in Maharashtra’s green hills lies the quaint little town of Panchgani. As it turned out one evening last year, there was much morose speculation about the absence of prospects for the long weekend to come.
“I need to wash clothes. I always scrub them well enough to last me a week.” said Miss Royally Smooth Hands, who has never touched detergent all her life.
“Maybe I’ll sleep in till noon and order in lunch or something later.” added Mamma’s good little boy, who wakes up at the crack of dawn each day.
More heavy sighs were doing the rounds when cool dude across the block called out. “Good luck people. I am off to Panchgani. Need I bring back some strawberries for you?”
“Babes in bikinis orange and bright,
Too flimsy to quite hold on tight.
Glasses of wine all around the pool,
Aromas delicious and worthy of drool.
A reckless sea cracking the shore,
Unleashing the waviest from its store.
A dark tan clingy and brown,
Festive nightlights all over the town.
Bikes on rent and a baby soft lane,
Tattoo parlours that claim ‘no pain’.
English hats to shade from the sun,
Summer dresses to flaunt for fun.
Beach shacks with karaoke bars,
Quiet tables to look at the stars.
The rumbling shore to sit quietly by,
To hold on tight as the good times fly.
The sun and sand in memories to lock,
For a smile later… for dreams to stock.”
P.S.: Child (ish?). That’s how Goa makes me feel. Like I can fly. Like I can pluck a star for my Christmas basket. And there’s this voice in my head which says all I prayed for at the little church near Candolim Beach is going to come true. And when it does, I am going back.
Picture Courtesy: Manish Kumar