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.
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)