Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Destination Satoli!

This has been a post long-due. It’s about one of those impulsive, impromptu trips I had taken some couple years ago. If I am right, it was sometime during the blistering heat of Delhi’s summer (very very reminiscent of the killing heat of Chennai this summer) that four of us, friends, decided to go to the hills. Basically, since I was leaving Delhi, my dear dear Delhi, for good, we decided it to be a farewell trip for me. Somebody came up with the idea of visiting Satoli; a quaint little hill town nestled deep within the Himalayan mountains. A friend of ours got a beautiful little, warm cottage, overlooking a huge garden of apricots, arranged for us. Before we landed there, we had made some random enquiries about the place, but nothing really prepared us for the unadulterated natural beauty that was to assault us.
On a Friday night, we boarded a train to Kathgodam. By mere coincidence, I was lucky to have a side berth, which gifted me with the most beautiful sight in the morning; of green, misty hills, about to be taken over or shrouded by a patch of ghostly black thunder clouds. Wonder if it was for us to take in that beauty that the train had stopped at that precise moment for signal. In a while, as I tore my eyes away from the hills and looked at the vegetation and life around, the idyllic view was suddenly jolted by the river that started flooding in no time and the sparsely populated area suddenly became filled with a sea of people jostling to take a look at the unruly, unstoppable waters from the Himalayas.
Then, it was finally time to alight, and we took turns to freshen up in the tap water at the railway station; something I would shudder to even think about in Delhi or any other place. It was different here; perhaps due to the beauty of the hills or the cleanliness in the air, the whole place wore a pristine look. Wrapping ourselves in nice warm shawls, we had our steaming, sugary tea. Although I am a sucker for the perfect taste in tea, the not-so-perfect tea tasted simply divine, thanks to the ambience in which it was served. Reluctantly, I left the comfort of the railway station (?!) to board a taxi to our destination to the higher reaches of the hill that we were admiring from the railway station. Thank god for taxi drivers, road layers, and hill people.
After a terrible ride, punctuated by our puking in turns, we reached the dak bungalow, the much-famed-yet-unknown-to-the-outside-world staying facility on the hill. In no time, we freshened up and devoured the piping hot aloo paratas served by the caretaker. Then, started our unlimited chats on everything under the sun. I still wonder if our jokes we really funny, or whether it was the weather playing tricks, that anything and everything would lead to peals and peals of stomach-holding laughter! One hardly had to visit the nearby ‘places of interest’ for amusement! It almost sounds, in retrospect, such a stupid thing to do, which any way we did and regretted. The cottage people had furnished the places with just the essentials, and that made the place most endearing; just a couple of easy chairs on the verandah facing the vast Himalayas, a small bed in a cozy corner, a table for four near a fire place, and tiny book shelf. I still remember vividly each moment I spent on the easy chair reading and gazing at the beauty that surrounded us for those two magical days. The night crept upon us with unparalleled beauty, with its millions of stars, warm and cold stone benches, fragrances of the flowers that bloom at night, fried fish, and biting cold breeze. In no time we were lulled into a deep, dreamless slumber.
The next day morning, we were awake by 5 in the hope of catching the snow-covered Himalayas, but that was not to be; perhaps a reason to revisit the place sometime in the future. The day also brought some beautiful memories for us; my friend and I ventured into the apricot garden, plucked and relished some of the fruits, and found an obscure clearing and sat and talked. Suddenly, we realized that even our hushed voices were too loud for the quietness of the place. Just as we stopped talking to listen to the quiet, we heard the wind! A “whoosh” that kept gaining speed as it approached “our” hill and rode across to the next leaving little “whooshes” on its trail. Our jaws dropped at what we had just experienced. It was one powerful moment; a moment when my life had made peace with itself; a moment I keep travelling back to several times over just to feel the rush of joy that dances out of you, only when summoned by nature at peace with itself and with you.
And, it’s been ages since that one beautiful trip across the hills, but even today, as I write this post, my mind fills with the memory of that one blissful weekend as if it had happened just yesterday.

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

(Thank you, William Wordsworth for writing Daffodils)


Sudhanthira said...

U write so well :)

Sumi said...

I too have made a trip along with u, through this article :-) nice moments

sumire said...

Thanks for writing this lady!!Relived the whole expereince through ur words:)
I have never seen a more beautiful sky with so many stars than the one that we saw that day as we laid down on one of those benches after gulping all that booze!!
A wonderful memory indeed with amazing people!!!
Keep writing

Uma said...

Reading this post itself was an experience. thanks.

sumire said...

Thanks for penning it lady!
Relived the expereince through ur words:)
I have never seen a more beautiful sky with so many stars than the one we saw that night lying on the garden bench!!

Wonderful memory indeed with amazing people!!!
Keep writing

Deepa said...

That was a 'wow' post. Thanks for almost taking me there, with your words.

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