12 July 2006

A travelogue

After one month of intense (???) training in Delhi, I just needed a break. Despite Kharagpur being a sleepy town existing in the laziest state of India (no offence!), life there is excessively hectic. At times, even taking soap to the washroom after relieving oneself can be stressful and demand effort. Summer vacations were supposed to recharge my batteries, but due to the reasons mentioned in my previous blog, I landed in a genuinely hectic place…. pretty much comparable to kgp;).
Hence a trip to Mussorie was planned, and even my dad who famously loves his office chair took a vacation after 4 years and decided to come…oh yeah…. he loves me like anything!!!!
I know family trips have their limitations, but at least 2 things are guaranteed…. nice place to stay and loads of food coz parents are so particular about them.
After exiting Dehradun, we were welcomed by the following messages:

“Mussorie- Pahadon ki Rani mein aapka swagat hai- Uttaranchal Tourism”

“Durghatna se Der Bhali”

“Whisky is Risky”

I must give credit…. these guys are creative. The probability of one getting killed due to distraction caused by reading them is pretty high.
The hilly drive starts and my cousin sister, who happens to be with us, and who just loves to get sick (no cynicism here…. its just plain fact, she had even taken the anti-nausea tablet before leaving!!) feels like puking …… so the car is stopped, and the majestic hills get a serving of her breakfast, what a start!! We reach a place called Jharipani, about 4 km before Mussorie where our cottage was situated. The place was heavenly, clouds literally going past us…. a Tibetan monastery nearby, with sounds of prayer bells and hymns made the atmosphere so ethereal, words just cannot describe it.
After resting for sometime, the first stop, like in all the hill stations was the mall road. Even though the tourist season was nearing its end, the sea of humanity there was overwhelming. The most annoying part was the presence of the “darling-ji” crowd….newly married couples, with brides all flaming in red declaring to the world that they are no longer available, and guys holding them tightly as if every male or female(in some cases) in the surrounding wants to take her away. This crowd also includes people who prefer to bring their cars, bikes on the mall road which was once strictly reserved for walkers…stopping at every make shift mela, riding on the giant wheel.etc.etc.
Hence, we concluded that the mall market was the area to ignore. I caught hold of a local tourist brochure and short listed some lonely spots which consisted of long walks and short treks.
The next stop was the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration—my dad’s college during his probationer days. It was a nice campus, spread over a huge area, planned at various levels. The aim of showing the academy was to instill some inspiration(in me) to try for the UPSC exam after graduation. I feel it will take more than just some buildings to convince me to take that path…. anyways, it was pretty nostalgic for pops, especially when Hari, the canteen man recognized him immediately. These sorts of events make me think of the feeling I will get when I come to kgp say after 15 years with my wife/companion(hopefully, I will have some lady in my life at that point).
After seeing every place worth seeing in Mussorie in the next couple of days, I would just describe some interesting incidents.

--My secret attempts to smoke were indeed memorable. Disappearing midway during walks to get some fag must have made people suspicious, but I guess I pulled it off pretty well. The real test of control took place when dad, sitting in the living room of the cottage at 10 pm, his scotch on the table, asked my uncle

“Yaar shailey……cigarette hai kya ??”
“Bhaiyya, I thought you had left longtime back.”
“Yaar…..inna changa mausam hai…..peene ka mann kar raha hai.”
“Haan haan zaroor….ek minute.”

There came my uncle with a pack of IndiaKings in his hand. Dad lighted one up, and since he was sitting besides me, the magical aroma literally flew past me. The mettle of men show up only in dire straits…..so true!!!!

--The only magazines available in the cottage were-femina, elle, cosmo, savvy, society.etc. They were interesting to read, and eventually made me respect women even more.

-- For once I decided to give god a chance…..and voluntarily went alone to visit the Tibetan monastery. It turned out that the entire temple was a part of the residence of some Tibetan lady, to add to that she was also the proud owner of 4 alsatians…who somehow detected the atheist waves being emitted, and chased me back to the cottage.

--The 5 km walk upto Cloud Nine-a house made by a British Major in 1838, now converted into a resort- was exquisite. It was drizzling slightly and the road was really steep. Inside the house, only two things were available for consumption- tea and pakodas– PERFECT. An old radio, Chinese crockery over 125 years old, and photographs showing people like Sunil Gavaskar, Rahul Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi as the proud visitors… all elements of a classy retreat.

Overall, the stay was beneficial….lots of food, lack of smoke, friendship with canines and much needed rest.