Update for week ended 30 Nov 2012
The seven year old huffed and with limp limbs said under her breath, “Appa, I am tired, I cannot walk any further.” I looked back and saw the little figure clad in 2 layers of sweaters with a half, yellow cardigan draped over her shoulders and felt sorry for her. The thin mountain air and the low temperatures made even adults huff after a few steps up these gradients. She was only a seven year old, so I stopped and endearingly told her, “Ok – let me the bulldozer and give you the push upwards so that you don’t tire, dear”. And that way I cajoled her to continue her 800 foot high climb from the road. Naldehra is a picturesque little clearing along the pine forest trail and has sylvan grasslands which would get heavy snow in winter to make it a little skiing slope for beginners. The place was converted into a golf course and still operates as one, but being surrounded by tall evergreen pines, the light green of the rolling grassy golf greens are perfectly offset by the grayish darker green of the pine. The steep climb to the hill was peppered by horse riders who would hire out the steeds to tourists to go up the hill and then give them a glimpse of the snow clad peaks beyond. We were done with the horse rides and instead chose to take the climb – and avoided the dusty horse trails, to take the winding steps that had been carved out on the slope for climbers. The sun pierced through the thick foliage of the trees and we could see the open green golf course to the right at times. But zig-zagging our way up to the hill top, I kept the seven year old and her older sibling engrossed in conversation to divert their mind away from the tedious, but crisp and perfumed climb. The pines rustled once a while and the sunshine peeped here and there till we got to a clearing in the woods which was not at a gradient, but rather flattish – almost like a summit, before another climb. We chose to rest our limbs for a brief while here; and with some clearing in the forest, there was more sunshine here for us to peel away one layer of the sweaters. The seven year old rested on a fallen pine tree that had withered with age and weary travelers resting on its fallen trunk. The softer inner core of the tree had also disintegrated with time and weather beats and a perfect cylindrical hollow made an excellent hideout for a seven year old. Energies recharged, we picked up a bottle of sweet beverage and walked up a few more feet to see what the horse riders were after. Their trails merged with ours at this clearing and the dust kicked up by the horses was enough disincentive for us to keep away from their path and instead walk on the grassy path upwards towards the pine forest ahead. Some of the horses had their day off, as we saw one graze on the tricky grass slopes and it grunted as we got closer. But the view to the east was a feast for sore eyes, as the snow clad mountains displayed their beauty from left to right.
D Street had suddenly seen a whiff of cool breeze blow through it as winter set in. The D Boyz were overdressed to keep themselves warm, but quite surprised walked into their offices and with cool weather, a few decided to climb the stairs of their tall office building. But the younger ones among them were less experienced in these climbs and needed a nudge or two from their seniors to keep up the pace of climbing. The cool weather, the climb up the stairs also kept the D Boyz’s spirits in good mood this festive season and their SENSEX also followed step – as it climbed steps. So it climbed a step on Monday and another large one on Tuesday, and the Boyz needed a rest on Wednesday. And that re-energised them to go on and let the SENSEX climb up even bigger steps on Thursday and further higher on Friday to finally see the pretty sight from atop. They could see the foreigners getting ready to fly into India to set up retail stores and restart the consumer revolution in this popular populous country. The SENSEX climbed the 800 points to end the week at 19340.
Our return was quick and energetic as we easily walked down the steps and the grassy slopes and passed by eager golfers about to start their round of 18 holes that warm afternoon. But we had other plans. We were in search of the hot springs along the shores of the icy Sutlej that zig-zagged its way through narrow valleys between these hills.
Have a great week ahead and share with me some of your travel travails and tales.