I picked up my phone and dialled PCs number (not personal computer, its Priyam Chakraborty), the big eyed girl who’s got “i’m a bengali” written all over her face.. until you see that straight hair after which you get confused. I asked her if she’d be interested in a trip to Thanedar, “kya??? Jamadar??? Ye kaiisa naam hai??” (ya the extra ‘i’ in kaisa was intentional, please read it again). I explained to her where the place was (as if it’d made a difference had i told her it was in nilgiris). She agreed and i informed Basu and shweta that PC was in.We had planned a trip to this place 80km from Shimla, for a quiet getaway over the Good Friday long weekend. And so we were ready to take off. Basu, Shweta, PC, Neha Chandok (Shweta’s roommie) and me. 5 different people, one of whom we only knew the name of, set driving towards Shimla on 21st April 4:30 am. I could hardly sleep the night before due to the excitement of the trip, and so i got up at 3:30 and woke up people, PC being the most difficult and dangerous. I’ll be reminded that i woke her up 10 min before i promised to, all my life, at least till we are able to talk and hear.
We fuelled and set gliding on the road, beautiful roads and less traffic made the drive till panchkula fast and exciting, also because Shweta and PC took a nap and Neha din’t have to be told anything, it needs a lot of motivation for her to start speaking, and none of us (me and Basu) were ready to oblige then.
With Basu’s remix collection on, he hardly put his feet off the accelerator and we paced down to Panchkula in flat 4 hours. 8:45 we’d signed into Giani da Dhaba. Lemon chicken, aloo paratha and gobhi paratha was the breakfast menu and we dug in deep before moving ahead with a couple of those bubble gums in our mouths. Now is when the ride had started, we were to realise later.Took us 3 hours to reach Shimla, which was expected considering half of delhi was coming to chandigarh / simla and the rest half was on its way to Manali, and the third half, well they are a small community and like to stay indoors.
We hit some bumpy road on the way and were lucky to have the silencer kiss the road only once throughout, hats off to Basuda’s control and driving skills. We stopped at some place i forget the name of to get the break padschecked (for the name of the place please click here and read till you get to the point where the name is taken, and if i have forgotten to hyperlink the ‘here’ up there then just skip this paragraph and move on…) OH and Shweta took shots of some roosters and hens there while Pappu was getting mended.
So we were a bit bored post Shimla as the ride was getting worse and we were running out of topics to talk about. We stopped a couple of times to click some good shots, apart from that nothing much. We had PC doing the “Steep turn” now and then and the Benglish creeping in on and off. And of course random situational comments here and there which would eventually be countered with some real bad jokes, and everyone willingly contributed to the “Bad Joke Collection”.
We finally reached Thanedar at around 6:30 pm, and to be greeted by the snow capped mountains was the best thing that could’ve happened to us after the long drive. We were famished but happy to’ve made it finally. We checked into the PWD Guest House close to where Satyanand Stokes used to stay. That guy founded the place and so called planted the first apple orchards in the country.
We asked the caretaker to arrange for dinner and some tea, and went to the balcony and sat down do just stare at the sunset and click some photos from up there. Soon it was dark and we were talking about random stuff.I don’t even remember what we were talking about, but thats about when PC’s and my first Benglish ‘conversation’ took place. Before this it was just one off sentences here and there.
We were called for dinner and we od-ed on some rice, dal and gobhi ki sabzi before falling on the bed in the room.
Next morning we got up early to capture the sunrise and boy it was beautiful. And Shweta’s lens was just too much for me to let go off the moment. I made the most of it and fell in love with it and as a result ended up returning it to her only when we reached delhi. I tried to hunt down birds and capture them but i din’t get one good shot, the way i wanted it to appear on the screen.
We then got back and broke PC’s and Neha’s sleep before breaking the fast and headed towards the Hatu Peak. Just when we were ready to take off i realised that the only opportunity to look macho was in my hand and going off. So i decided to take a chance with these guys and declared that i wanted to wear my contact lenses and further my glares. I went up and prayed to my right eye to stay calm while i stuck the lens into it. I succeeded. It remained comparitively calm and allowed the lens to enter, and i went back running down with tears in my eyes. Yes they were tears, eyes were burning like hell dude… I covered it up with my glares and acted macho. We found that there were no taxis in the locality and hence we had to take out our pappu and drive up to Hatu peak.
The drive was lovely, the beautiful pine trees with their shadows on the road, the sunlight tring to penetrate but not allowed to do so enough. And we had to keep the song volume low to let Basu-da listen to the honk replies to the honk questions he was asking the other drivers on the road. We then went back to the random conversation games and ‘look at that’,” hey that looks so good”, statements. Suddenly out of nowhere we saw a couple of vultures on the side of the road feeding on a dear carcass. It took me sometime to understand the reason for Basu-da’s honking and i literally jumped off my seat at the sight of the vultures. Such huge creatures they are. they stand at a height of about 2-3 ft and with their wings spread apart they would look huge.. like HUGE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I unlocked the door and almost jumped off the car to take a few shots of the creatures when Basu-da (you’ll know why i call him ‘da’ now), said “Aye boss, ruk.. ruk.. ruk… gaadi aa rahi hai” and he went ahead and said “bahar mat nikal sala kaat lega…” i couldn’t say much in my defense and we then decided that we’d click them on our way back claiming like experts that the vultures sure will be back for the prey. We returned and the next day when on our way back to delhi we saw the carcass still lying there. 🙂
Hatu peak gave us a wonderful view of the whole mountain range, and it also gave me my first experience of seeing and holding snow in my hand. I was super-egg-zited (PC this one’s for you) when i saw the snow. Again Basu-da came into picture and i realised that i weighed more than i thought i did and hence my jumping with egg-zitement inside the car must actually be testing the car in the slippery roads uphill. So i settled down for the better.
We reached the top and clicked… and clicked…. and clicked… and…. thats it… we clicked photographs. PC stood in the snow and then fell on the snow. I clicked the snow (or the rnage in the background) in my hand with a zoom lens in my other hand. At least i tried. (salvaging pride is such a natural reaction even when you’re writing). We then finally clicked (the first group photo) and went downhill to Banjara Orchards for lunch. A wholesome buffet lunch did us in a bit and we decided to taxi down to the Sutlej instead of walking down 20km (Ya i can see the stares people), to the river which looked awfully close for it to be 20km.
The water was cold and refreshing. It was super good to keep the feet in the water, pulling it out at regular intervals when your skin decided to change colors to blue. Well the shimla lady did have a good resistance and kept her feet soaked in shoes, soaked in the water till we left. On our way back PC did a rooney and hurt her camera (the pain in her knee surfaced later). So her camera got its first scratch since its birth.
we drove back up and the songs of Kumar Sanu and Alka Yagik helped increase our discomfort from cramping up in the marui van. And the drivers perserverance to play it even when the player refused to blurt out any songs was inspiring.
We reached up and now was the time for the photographs to come out and so all of them were transfered into Basu-da’s laptop and we saw the photographs from everyone’s camera before proceeding to the dinner table. Roti, chawal, dal and alu matar ki sabzi was fun, with regular intervals of PC’s ‘tatti’, ‘potty’ and ‘BOLW’ expressions.(one of 2 times when Neha decided to show us her teeth, and they’re beautiful i tell you, the second being, when i think me and PC were Benglishing).
We hit the sack soon after dinner and woke up to leave the beautiful place. The vacation was over and so is my little dream of re-living it through his blog post. We descended faster than we ascended (something new???? ) And we reached Shimla by 11:30, stopping by at Neha’s place and then went to Goofa, a restaurant in Shimla for lunch and had some good pahari khana. PC was breathless by the time we reached up (No… she’s asthmatic).
Shweta bought the scary movie mask and wore it through the walk from Mall Road to the car, and succeeded in scaring a few children (mission accomplished !!!). we headed down towards panchkula and were met with a good traffic at kalka post which the drive was smoother but the time was less.
Through the drive PC and Shweta began playing some random rhyming game where they had to apparently make disconnected sentences ending with a word on similar sound as “Akki” (god knows what that word means). And half way through the competition we had rules being defined and followed and challenged and then rejected. We finally got to Ambala and basu hit the accelerator and tried to speed up the rest of the journey, finally getting us home by 12:00 midnight.
The weekend was over and so was the dream. But it was fun. 🙂