Let's begin with a little candor, i never expected this trip to ever give me a rush the way it did. It just didn't stop surprising. We started off by wishing that no matter how boring it would be, we did not want infants around us at any given time in the trains.Next, we had an evening train to Mumbai, apart from an extremely spicy vada pav and some absolute rubbish Bhel this was as uneventful as a Monday morning often is (no offense to you, Monday ) We then made our way, by local to CST where we awaited for our train accompanied by some sub-par food. in the train we didn't do too much just were acquainted with a couple that was clearly newly wed and were travelling together for the first time, if we ourselves weren't radiating so much excitement i'm pretty sure one of us would have taken a moment to notice that they too were as excited as us if not slightly more.
Fast forward to the next day where we were off at Delhi, here the main man Tejas, whose house we would reside at, had his mum come to get us, i didn't want this at first but at that time i probably wasn't thinking about how i never fit in one of our 3 tier trains in India and how tired i would be after a day of travelling, all thankfulness and awkward hellos aside we drove down to his place and on the way made up our mind to take in as many sights as we possibly could on the way to what would be 'home' for the next few days. The relief of finding a place to shower as pretty immense.
Over the next few days we frequented so many markets and bought out things like t-shirts, mobile cases, a lot of food, more often than not things that our gracious hosts were going to need to prepare for dinner. Now these hosts gave us the basic thing we needed which was our beds to sleep after loitering at the markets of Delhi and having a rather sweaty encounter with the masses of the capital in the metro, to and fro from the markets, throw in a few evenings of playing football with the other guys in his society and we had some of the best days that we'd lived so far.
Now for the food that we ate which was so good, one of the reasons it was so was because we lived the best of both worlds we went to places like Amici, Big Chill, Delhi heights and the other side which i particularly loved was the food we ate at chandni chowk which was street chow, we ate parathas out of the parathe waali galli, then had jalebis that were almost as big as a quarter plate, then ate some chaat that had fried potato curd and some of the tangiest chutney i ever ate, then to top it all off we had a glass of lassi that i guarantee you, would make kumbhkaran sleepy on his 6months that he took off, of sleeping and ate during. Also i can think of some other essentials that were pretty fun, the commotion of chandni chowk was so surprisingly breath taking because it gave me a sense of home away from home, it was the commotion the hustle and the bustle in and around me that was ever so pleasing. And then there was also those people that stopped and crowded around the screen that was displaying a cricket match at the time, if anyone ever wanted to view and understand our country in one go; this road that led to the red fort would be a perfect sample of the country, has a mix of a foreign influence relating to the the many monuments you could view in any part of this ever so huge country, with food from every corner of the country and a heritage that was so rich it made you wish that you lived in a lavish era existing few hundred years ago and then was the sport that everyone worshiped, the game of gentlemen that people stood to watch without even remembering where they had to be at the time.
Another highlight of this trip was that we traveled to Neemrana which was a fort that had now been converted to a Hotel, we went there and had a zip lining day out, it was a fair distance from Delhi because of which we opted to travel by a car. had a great time while learning to zip line, had the instructors that taught us how to brake while zip lining and asked us to ensure that we didn't get stuck on the line because pulling yourself to the where the line ended was something that not everyone could do, it was tough but not as hard to do as they said. Lastly my friends also had to make sure that we visited the Lotus Temple, again my reluctance was abundant because of my diminishing faith in a higher power, we went and yet again i was so glad that i went, because it was like a temple like none other, no idols nothing; all it had was a group of individuals from different faiths that read out a prayer from their respective faiths, and then came a period of silence that i never imagined such a horde of people because of their sheer numbers wouldt be able to attain, however this period of silence allowed us to introspect despite the fast paced and enjoyable days that we were having. Now this introspection really helped me mature as a individual understand that what i experienced in the last few days were not something that everyone was privileged to have because of which i decided never to travel on money that i took from my parents and so it has now been rather long since i last traveled.
Next up decision time, about which place to visit next, we could go to either one or two of the Tal's, could go to Auli, or Kasauli and lastly dehradun and mussuorie which we decided to go to on recommendations of our hosts. Now for the travel path, again luck favored us and Tejas' father was in fact going to a town to meet a friend, a little away from dehradun which was to be the first of the two towns that we intended to visit. Now we were accompanied by driver which is a trivial part of the trip but we noticed that Delhi had made us forget how to appreciate greenery, we got dropped off at a traffic snarl about an hour from our destination. Now we were truly on our own and had to think on our feet and attempt to hitch hike, but yet again luck sided with us and we got a local bus that was heading in the right direction. We reached dehradun with a chorus of sadhus clad in saffron crooning hymns in a language that seemed foreign at first but was in fact Hindi, now this apparent singing seemed pointless at first but in fact made us feel like we arrived in lesser time than what we actually did arrive in.
Now because of the month we were travelling in the weather even at dehradun did not greet us with any kind of pleasant weather. however there was more that we could marvel about yet another capital that we would be visiting in less than 24 hours, the tuk tuk ride from the bus stop to the guest house we would be residing at was fun but rather slow, it was yet dawning upon us that we had just moved from the capital of the country to the capital of a state that was smaller in almost all if not all aspects. We decided to stay at dehradun over mussorie knowing that the weather at the latter would be more pleasant but Tejas had a bout of illness that luckily lasted only a day. Me and Arka on the other hand made full use of this day and visited the waterfall that you reached only with access through a cave, an extremely large and probably the country's largest forestry institute which was in all honesty a very dry affair, and visited the cave temple which was such a respite from the high temperatures outside in the open.
The next day we took a local bus to Mussourrie which was a short journey but ever so pleasant because of the lush greenery, however it also gave me a sense of nostalgia towards home back at Pune. I ensured that i looked forward rather than backwards and went on, to one of the best, most laid back and simplest towns that had gained fame as a hill station over the years, at Mussuorrie we spent the day at a market that could not be called boring but was far less attractive if seen from a teenagers eyes. So we made sure that we did things that were appealing to us, like travel to the kempty falls close by for which we went by a traxx and spoke to a villager who's actual job was to deliver milk to an even smaller town, he told us about his little girl whose name i would not be able to remember even if my life depended on it but we did see a picture of her that he kept in the sun visor despite her uniform in the picture being a tatter she was cute as a button he did also entail about how he had to carry out this entire routine on a cycle before he could afford to buy a vehicle. Moving on, The kempty falls were ravishing and had rapids that were in fact pretty beautiful to look at, also collected like a pool, funnily enough for people like me who did not carry a spare set of clothes there were even clothes for hire, however i opted to not go for clothes that were not worn by others and remained in mine, with all those people drenched and soaking in this all natural swimming pool i took a seat on a rock and ensured that i muted out the crowd that seemed to be ever present and allowed the silence to take me to another place, no matter how much that sounds like it actually happened in a Hindi movie it actually was pretty calming and serene; also at the time little did i know that the next day would be an absolute peach.
We had done it, by playing the student card and haggling with that Rent a cycle store manager, the only place that rented out cycles on an hourly basis had finally listened to our continuous pleading and allowed us to rent the bikes, helmets and all on we were now on the bikes and the next stop was to be Lal Tibba, i think it would be generous to say that we cycled 2kms before realisation hit us that we wouldn't be able to cycle uphill as we had anticipated earlier. so we chose an easy way up and peddled over the flat-ish areas's and towed the bikes the rest of the way which was uphill. Now that i"m blessed with the hindsight i am extremely over joyed that we did in fact go up that hill, because the view not only from that hill but also on various steep turnings that over looked the abyss and then we were treated to something that i did not expect to find at the village that was lal tibba, i'm pretty sure that means something however to a not so local guy it did not make sense, we ate what i'm pretty sure were the best pancakes i had eaten in long, yes i ate pancakes in a village called lal tibba, the first thought was that they would not be able to make a half decent pan cake but believe me when i tell you that it was fluffier than a marshmallow and might i add that if the same were made the size of a trampoline i'd jump on it as joyously as the bike ride downhill, now this; this was so much fun we forgot about that tiredness that a normal person would feel at the end of 7-8 days away from home but the air going into my face was so cool i didn't want the slope to end and did not want Mussuorrie to come, it did and as you might have already figured in time lesser than how much it took me to go up.
Now for the drag of the journey back, we took a train from dehradun to delhi from where we packed our bags and were our own merry way to stay in Delhi itself, to go back home to Calcutta and back home to Pune in my case, this trip need i say was unforgettable and made us grow together. A year on my i have never had such fond memories of anything else, never had a heart so heavy to say good bye to a place and never have been able to cherish anything so much.
Sidenotes- 1) The sunset at the Red fort was gorgeous so i would suggest a visit at a time thereabouts.
2) The 2 guys in the pictures were the ones that accompanied me
3) The kid with the school bag is the one who led the way to Guchhu Paani for us.
4) Me and Arka had arguments about how much to pay for trivial things many times and he believed in haggling, i didn't, but now i do think it was better off his way.
5) The only thing for which google was used was to find out what a visor is.