The past couple of months passed in a blur. There was so much work to do, I had no time to unwind. My work pressure lessened towards the end of August. Towards the end of September, it was Durga pujo this year. Living outside Bengal has its disadvantages. I no longer get caught up in pre-pujo shopping, dressing up in my finest, going pandal hopping or binge eating.
As people say, you can take a Bengali out of Bengal, but you cannot take Bengal out of the Bengali. I pine for the festivities back home, but it has not always been possible to go back during the time. Even though I am far from home, my heart is joyous and brain goes on a holiday mode, preventing me from concentrating on the work at hand. So, these past few years I made it a point to travel to the Himalayas and spend a couple of days relaxing and rejuvenating in the quiet solitude.
This year was no different as I went to Kasauli, a small town in the district of Solan, in Himachal Pradesh (India). With an extended weekend at hand, I made the best I could of the time.
With a couple of friends, early one morning, we set off to refresh our otherwise stressful lives. The best part of living in the capital city of India is that the hill stations are so close. Extended weekends are perfect for getaways.
We reached Kalka by train, from where Kasauli is a 2-3-hour drive.
Five minutes into our journey, we caught the first glimpse of the hills in the distant horizon.
As we drove up the air turned considerably cooler and the weather pleasant. Soon the oppressive heat of the plains became a thing in the past.
We had booked a service apartment which was to be our home for the next couple of days. The apartment was very tastefully done and attention was given to even the minutest detail. The view from the balcony was breath-taking.
We reached around 3 in the afternoon and were famished. A quick lunch and the soft beds were on the itinerary for the day. In the evening, we sat on the balcony and sipped tea, looking out in the vast expanse of darkness.
On the second day, we visited Christ Church, the oldest church in Himachal Pradesh. Dedicated to St. Francis and St. Barnabas, the Anglican church was in 1853. There was an ancient sundial within the church premise. The atmosphere was calm and serene. Benches were set amidst pine trees for people to sit and enjoy the peace. We roamed aimlessly the in small mall of Kasauli and in the afternoon returned to our apartment. Later we enjoyed the sunset from the comfort of our home.
The next day, we did not plan anything and spent the day at home, cooking, chatting and making the most of the time in hand. In the afternoon, we walked to the local market. The day being Dusshera, there was a small fair and people from far-off places had come; all dressed in their best. It was a nice experience to see the local people celebrating a festival. There were a few shops selling sweetmeats and everyone was buying sweets that day. We, too, bought jalebis on the way back. Although there was not much to do in the evenings, we enjoyed because that was what we wanted; to be away from work, daily responsibilities and the stress of city life.
The following day was our last. A long walk in the morning marked the start of the day. A quick breakfast and an even quicker lunch later, we checked out and started our journey to Kalka. We boarded the train that took us back to the daily grind.
We reached home late at night, and we were tired but happy and refreshed, knowing that we could go back any time we wanted to.