Udate pairo ke tale jab bahatee hain jameen
Mud ke humane koi manjil dekhi hi nahi
Raat din raahon pe hum shaam-o-sahar karate hai
The road never ceases to fascinate.. as the vehicle turns left and the first view of lake hits the eye ..half obscured by hills and the eye just begins to yearn for more of the luscious beauty..the road beckons..to all ..all wanderers.. all travellers..And it is time to move on ..may be quoting Robert Frost,s most quoted lines
But I have promises to keep
And miles to go before I sleep
And miles to go before I sleep
Every time I get out of my exile and the vehicle just turns left towards city..towards Shillong..towards a piece of my past.. I invariably feel the thrill, the thrill of city..thrill of the road and the thrill of the destination ahead..We cross the first bridge..right.. the lake plays hide and seek before giving in to the lusty eyes of admirers for a full view.. left.. pines bloom much down below..and somewhere I have heard the wind caressing the pines have a tale to tell..if you stop to listen.
We do not stop..but move ahead..hearts humming..blue jacarandas strewn carelessly along the sideways.. welcoming velvet carpet and a little drizzle always crafts the letters in the clear sky.. ' Welcome to Shillong'. By the time we have reached the doorway to Shillong.. Mawlai and the traffic to the city had begun to build up..congested roads, the lure of the city gets stronger...then a ride through the narrow alleys, giving in to a breathtaking view of colourful tin roofed houses blessed with rich flora and then.. at the zenith of climax.. Police Bazar...
Bliss..the aroma of freshly baked delicacies..the chatwallahs lining up the street in the evening and mind dancing to the music of being spoilt for choice.. momos and chowmein at Centre Point, Ilish (Hilsa) at Suruchi or nibble those heavenly mutton samosas at Ecee or wash down chicken pakodas and lollipops with a warm cuppa in the small road side shop run by the pretty lady (forgot the name of the shop)..or enjoy a relaxed ambience at Lamee ( Earlier Broadway) with usual North Indian fare or may be move a bit up and enjoy the open space of ' The Family Dhaba' or on a mundane note simply sit at Dominos and savour the half forgotten taste of thin crust pizza and coke or may be take a peek at R.B. Stores breath in the aroma and dig at their puffs and pastries..and yes..the Alu Muri and chaat on the wayside cannot be spared too..
Once we are done.. we most of the time includes me and my Malayali colleague..when let out of the workplace which we consider exile sometimes both in terms of location and bosses.. and we are no less than a pair of sniffer canines hunting sniffing for food we are deprived of. Sometimes we aso include my toddler and woman friday but since most of the days our venture is on friday ( no flight day for me) and woman friday is a staunch vegetarian on friday ( vegetarian as in no onion and garlic) and I have to struggle hard to order no onion garlic food for her..but level of irritation has gone down drastically and do it as a routine job like stuffing anything edible in my toddler,s mouth..to keep her going through out the trip.
Next stop after a fill is some shopping..if time permits ( since most of the times we try to sneak in the office vehicle coming to the city for work..we adjust return accordingly) window shopping. My favorite stop is Glory,s Plaza , wandering in the narrow stuffy semi lit alleys..though the betel leaf stained downstairs is a sore sight..I have learnt to ignore and move up through the spiralling staircases.. shoes ( though I get my size rarely) clothes bags accessories..but the habit of malls with spacious trial rooms and visible price tags and sizes..so buying spree gets curbed to an extent..but hardly I return empty handed..shopping bags in hand..joy in the heart..and sheer glee of bargaining spins the happiness web..as we return to the crowded lane of Police Bazar.
Sometimes we would frequent the salon for a short or very short visit..yes.. surprise we do not have any salon in the nearest forty kilometres.. I know all city women would wonder how does one survive..and yet all the village girls manage to look pretty if not all city bred.. Beauty treatment never fails to leave a feel good happy mark in girls..and we too are caught in the wave..specially let out of our exiles..feeling pretty..irrespective of the fact that hardly anyone to notice..but I guess this joy is too selfish..beholder or no beholder.Hair cut, eyebrows, facial, wax..more we spend..our joys match the splurge in leaps and bounds.
We are almost done now..as we would wait for the vehicle..last minute rushes continue.. some apples and pomegrenate in exorbitant prices..some more eatables packed from R.B. Stores..rush to the ATM.. we are severely cash deprived there near airport where we work.. with ATM being 15 km away in a place where there is no means of public transport to commute, and always try to remind myself constantly to a buy a balloon for my toddler from the vendor when she is not with me and if she is there I end up buying a host of unnecessary things that suits her fancy to avoid the fiasocs created in the middle of the road overlooking the irritated eyes of onlookers with the message ' cannot control a child!' Yeah that is bad parenting..but who bothers..with the heart humming.. And as we would find our way through the underground parking our last stop is Baskin and Robbins where my colleague would tickle her sweet taste buds after being spoilt for choice for the flavour.
The curtains drop..if we are not standing in the long queue of ' public utility' to relieve ouselves in the rainy chilly evenings of Shillong..(which is a very cumbersome task given the long queue building up in the stench filled gateway).. we are in the vehicle struggling through the busy traffic of the city, finding the way out, pines bidding adieu..eyes closing in slumber..a' blink and miss' glimpse of the lake awaken a 'nearing home' feeling. we cross some more curves..and the pines make way for the broad view of the lake..evening lights donning the hills..the newly built view point..we cross bridge number three after first and second , the vehicle turns right..blue jacarandas hardly visible now..the vehicle zooms through the newly constructed highway..sing song heart almost fell silent..we reach airport.. exile..home.
How many times I have undertaken this journey since last one year..the thrill ,the music, the joy and the end continues...till date..and the road beckons...and wanderers wander....
A quote I read in Shillong , ' We also believe in God, only we spell it 'NATURE'.