Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Country Roads Take Me Home
Appropriately, a year which began with an impromptu trip to Ajanta Ellora, ended with another quick getaway to Himachal Pradesh over Christmas. For someone who is extremely accident prone, I have been blessed with friends and family members who simply love to get behind the wheels, put on some good music and drive for miles, while all I have to do is peacefully sit and criticize.
The moment I reached Delhi on Christmas Day, my kid brother (no longer a kid) took charge of the proceedings, as the two of us, along with a couple of friends, hit the road, and for the umpteenth time, I realized that it doesn’t really take much to be happy: good company, good music, good alcohol and good humour will do the job more often than not! The six-hour journey to the sleepy town of Kasauli was a breeze as we swept through three states, stopping by the occasional roadside dhaba for chai, parathas and lassi. My last roadtrip was almost two years back from Bangalore to Mysore and Coorg, and I couldn’t help noticing the great divide between the north and south of India at so many different levels: be it the food, the people, the landscapes, the weather, the way of driving or the choice of abuses.
Kasauli was pretty much like any other hill station: a heady mix of cold weather, warm people, long walks, breath taking views, lots of food, cheap alcohol, bonfire, music, “deep” conversations and the lamest of jokes. Being the prejudiced Arts graduate who looks down on engineers, it wasn’t easy being the only non-programmer amid a bunch of software geeks, but this was our very own desi version of the Big Bang Theory. (P.S. I even got a BBT tee shirt as a birthday gift)
The next day, we drove further north for a day trip to Shimla, my second visit to the place after a decade, when we had traveled across Shimla and Kulu Manali. While I was captivated by the first signs of snow, it was still not my idea of the perfect paradise on earth: somehow the crowd, the commercialism and the touristy nature wasn’t something that I cherished on a holiday. To spice things up, we lost our way while returning and as my brother navigated through dangerously sharp bends in the dark, I held on for dear life, wondering if I would safely reach Kasauli for my birthday celebration.
Once we managed to reach our resort, we went berserk, so thrilled were we to survive the highway to hell, piling on the cheap local wine and plates of junk food till it was time to unleash the cake.
Except for a quick trip to the police station for unlawful parking and some damage to the car after being hit by a truck, it was a fairly uneventful trip and we all returned back to Delhi unscathed and in our senses.
Each time I have got lost this year, the country roads have always taken me home; eventually…