A chanced picture on my Facebook feed, a familiar name and the appetite for a break took me to Bhimtal last year where I spent three days, off the grid. No Facebook, no WhatsApp, no emails and no phone calls.
Don’t believe it?
Okay, 3 phone calls every day.
Still, don’t believe me?
Well, a few emails every day too. But that’s it. No Facebook and No WhatsApp.
Aah, I know what you are thinking. What did I do then? Well, I did that most of us stuck in a corporate routine want to do but hardly ever get enough time to – dreaming.
Three days seemed a whole week to me, because I would not take any random phone calls, would not check my social media and would not even spend time doing random Google search. Partly because I was dead tired of doing this day after day, every day and partly because I was in a better place that was a promise of ‘real’ pleasure.
I could touch the air.
Okay! Okay! Not touch it ‘actually’.
But I could, almost, touch it.
I remember how it was raining when I reached my hotel on Day 1. I ran to the reception to ensure whatever hair were left on my head, stayed dry. The route to reception which was not more than 6-7 seconds long, was dotted with flowers and vegetables, swaying in the direction of the rain. While my husband was checking in, I was looking at the garden (determined to not look at my mobile screen). The flowers were a little more bloomed, the colours were brighter than usual, the grass was greener than what is found in the gardens, and the air was crisper – just like it is in hill stations. It ruffled my hair and I immediately covered my head for there was nobody around to admire me in that glorious hairstyle.
Also because hair implants are not very cheap.
Oh, I had ditched the potholes, traffic jams, dust and toxins of Ghaziabad and I were here in a place that had an abundant supply of fresh air and fresh rains. My Day 1 was all spent in sleeping, eating, drinking Chai and then sleeping some more. And surprisingly, I still had time left. At such moments that almost always happen in hill stations, I often recall Ruskin Bond’s book, ‘Time stops at Shamli’. It’s not because I have spent time in Shamli, or a place like Shamli or I have some connection with the story. It’s because I love the title. I love how Ruskin Bond could put, what we all want, in four simple words.
How many times have you felt the no-longer-ticking hands of stopped time?
How many times have you felt the pause?
Once, twice? Never?
Then, my friend, you have not experienced a hill station as the time really stops there.
To keep the trip interesting, my ‘loyalty points’ fanatic husband had booked a new hotel for every day. And I thank him for that. Because whatever little outing we had in those three days happened because we had to move & park ourselves in theee different places. It was the time of monsoons and we had underestimated the gods.
Gods are crazy and they only love hill stations. While the metro cities wait earnestly to show case their fancy umbrellas, the hill stations take it all with their flowers and vegetables swaying and dancing & the air trying to make you go bald!
Little Johnny must be from a hill station for he repeatedly asked the rain to go away and come again another day.
I am not sure if it were the rains, the birds, the mountains, the lake, the fog or the cold – but it all made me draw. After many, many years, I picked up my pen & painted a picture on the last page of my office notepad. I didn’t do a great job, but it made me feel good. Somehow, it repaired something broken inside me. And I was all ready to show up where I must show up the next day.
Bhimtal is a hill station some 22 kms. away from the well-known Nainital in Uttarakhand. Well connected! You could drive or take a bus to the place.
Top attractions: Bhimtal Lake, Bhimeshwara Temple & Hidimba Parvat.
I recommend: A walk by the lake, a conversation over a tea, and definitely an attempt to draw or paint or doodle.