Saloni, my father’s friend’s daughter, who I met just once, messaged me in March to ask if I would like to join her and her friends for a quick trip to the heavenly state of Uttarakhand, to Lansdowne. I,without any trace of reluctance, agreed.
Saloni was worried that I wouldn’t enjoy myself, considering I knew no one but her. Saloni is one of the most kindest people I have met. Her motherly care is infectious and her worry was apparent. I wasn’t worried as traveling with strangers hasn’t ever been challenging to me. I’ll take off solo and travel by myself was a prospect constantly on my mind. But, the next couple of days were miraculously and to Saloni’s relief , better than one could imagine.
I took a flight to Delhi and then joined the group with Saloni at the station. We took a night train to Najibabad and then took a share cab till Kotdwar. This was one of the most spookiest point of our journey. The jeep driver was speeding on those curvy roads at dusk as if there is no tomorrow. We almost thought we were bidding goodbye to the world. A distance of 40 mins was covered by him in around 20-25 mins. We had to change the cab as we entered the Uttarakhand territory in Kotdwar to reach Lansdowne. The next cab we took broke-down and we had to take a local bus till the access road of the Villa. We were all glad that we were traveling light and we wouldn’t find it difficult to reach the Villa. To my pleasure,we were greeted by a mountain dog at the access road,who guided us to the Villa.
Swati had booked this Villa we on AirBnB. I had never stayed at an AirBnB before and I hadn’t even checked this one online. I wasn’t a tad bit disappointed with Swati’s choice as the Villa was located amidst the mountains. The mountain person in me yelped with happiness. We had an extremely friendly caretaker called Sonu, who was an amazing source of entertainment. His tiger encounter story could bring him a bravery award some day for sure. It is a 4 bedroom rustic Villa with a Kitchen and a beautiful patio, where one could enjoy our favourite drink and read for hours.
All we did that weekend, was relaxed in the lap of the Himalayas, went to a waterfall nearby, listened to some music,tried to fix our own meals and made memories around a bonfire on a starlit night. We did go into town, for a bit,to get food and for looking at the touristic locations, but I personally didn’t enjoy it as much as I enjoyed sitting on the chair and looking at the mountains or sitting around a bonfire and looking at the stars. Dancing around a bonfire or watching someone dance is therapeutic in ways that I can’t put into words.
I had initially planned to go off to Rishikesh on my own for a day. But, I ended up bonding with Saloni’s friends so well that I couldn’t say bye to them, when Neha asked me to not leave. I ended up staying back and I am glad I did
So that afternoon we walked to a travelers cafe instead and played some board games. That’s where I met this handsome hill dog.
A very beautiful memory of this trip was to figure out the DSLR with Chetan’s new camera. Surpreet had gifted it to him just a day before the trip. And I am so glad! People bond over Coffee and Drinks, Chetan, Surpreet and me bonded over a camera.
We all promised to stay connected post the travel. But, all the connection we share now, is liking each other’s pictures on Instagram. I often wonder, why this happens. I wonder, why I don’t go that extra mile to stay in touch with people I connect well with during my travels. It is still a mystery to me, but I believe in destiny. So, I strongly believe, if I did connect well with anyone out of the 8 and I am meant to be friends with them, I’ll meet them again on some other unplanned travel and we would connect again, like we were always friends.
What makes a travel special, is the faces we see, the view we grasp in our memories, the traveled roads, the untraveled destinations we list out and the conversations we have with known and unknown people.
9 strangers, 1 Villa in the lap of the Himalayas, 1 caretaker, 1 mountain dog and me- still seems like a dream. This trip ended perfectly with meeting an acquaintance in Delhi, in the most random way-A comment on my first Pinch of Turquoise picture. And now that acquaintance is a dear friend, who will surely lead me onto my second rendezvous with the Himalayas.
The mountains are calling and I surely must go!
Location : Landsdowne
Photos clicked by Chetan Sharma and me.
Details of the AirBnb can be found here.
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