Yes my bags are packed and I am ready to leave for Calcutta. Ten days of lolling around. I am so excited.
This is exactly the kind of life I want to lead. Pack my bags every week. Last week this time I was leaving for Palampur and Mc Cleodganj. It was an amazing trip. I can still feel the cold mountain air. Actually I was working on a story and stayed at a tea plantation for a day in Palampur. It was beautiful, the snowcapped Dhauladhars, the gurgling brook in the valley...that reminded me of Tennyson's Brook...you know that poem with the refrain 'Men may come and men may go but I go on forever'.
There was yummy homecooked food rustled up by the cooks at the estate. They were such people. Sarwan and Dharmo. They belonged to the local tribes -- the Gaddis and Dhogries. They reminded me of the good old servants who take care of you and make you feel cherished. Sarwan's gajar ka halwa was one of the best things I had on the trip.
The highlight however was my walk back to my cottage at night from the lounge area which housed a television. It was a Sunday night and I was desperate enough for Desperate Housewives to stay back in the lounge at 10 pm. The whole place was eerily silent by then. Everybody had gone to sleep. Now leopards are commonly seen prowling around the estate. All I could do was sit with an irregular heart beat and check my watch every 5 minutes to see whether it was 11 yet and when the soap would end. It was that bad. I was shit scared. Further the owner had showed me photographs of the British planters who owned the estate in the 1800s. And a picture of the planter's wife who had died here during the devastating earthquake of 1905. I kept looking at the glass doors thinking that any moment I would see a face staring at me. And I swear when I swtiched off the lights of the room and ventured out, I heard a rustling in the tea bushes. That was it. I ran for my life and for the shelter of my cottage.
It did not end there. You see I am rather a coward. I just couldn't go to sleep. I called up E who thought it was adventurous and sounded fun. "It must be good for newly weds. Roam around in the morning and have sex in the evening when there is nothing else to do," she mused. Even trying to read an MB didn't help.
Next morning I set out for Mc Cleodganj where I had spinach and potato momos for Rs 2 each (they were delicious especially as it was drizzling with a cold wind blowing. A monk called Tenzing egged me on saying they were the best momos to be sold there), listened to the Dalai Lama and couldn't make out anything of his Tibetan chants, saw nice looking firangs most of whom seemed like they needed a bad bath, searched for a monk I knew at the Namgyal Monastery but was told to look at the archives so didn't bother, bargained with a ruddy faced Tibetan junk jewellery seller who didn't relent much, sat down in a cafe and enjoyed piping hot coffee with macaroni and walked down to the St John's Church in the Wilderness (where Lord Elgin is buried) and thought I would get raped and thrown down the forest (it was that deserted, on top of which it was a dark and windy day). I did as much as I could do in a day before I set out for Delhi in the evening.
Now I have made some more plans. This time it goes like this: six months of the year I can spend in Goa, from October to April. The rest of the year in Mc Cleodganj.
Now I have to figure out some way to do this.