The eternal sunshine of a snow-clouded mind!

Tons of ice-creams, volumes of ice & electricity bills running to pages – is how we beat heat here in North India. For all the love we have shown to the moon in our poetry and novels, we ended up offending the big daddy & he has decided to teach us a lesson with soaring…

Bhimtal Diaries: The station near the hills

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…

In the lap of Dauladhar: Dharamshala stadium

Dharamshala – the home to Dalai Lama, a mini Tibet and the second capital to Himachal Pradesh. Anything I will write in praise of Dharamshala will not do any justice to the place that’s magically peaceful. In the backdrop of beautiful Dauladhar, Dharamshala offers a sight  to behold wherever you look. While the place is…

A place for monkeys: Jakhu Temple, Shimla

After a horrendous experience in Vrindavan last year when a monkey attacked me in open & snatched my spectacles from me, I have had my differences with this breed. I don’t go near them, avoid eye contact at all costs & maintain my distance. Any place where I might find a monkey is usually not…

The queen of hills: Shimla

Pitched roofs of colorful houses, red & ripe apples in big orchards & tall, decorated churches – that’s how I imagined Shimla. It was a Saturday early morning of Summers when we caught a train from New Delhi railway station to Kalka. We were excited about our journey, about sitting in a toy train for…

Palampur: of Bollywood and Dauladhar range

The best stories are always chanced upon: the unknown restaurant that served the yummiest food, the stranger who helped when least expected, catching the train at the last moment, waiting for the delayed flight at the airport & finishing that pending book on Kindle or the road that led to a beautiful place that wasn’t…

Find your happy place in the mini Switzerland of India – Khajjiar

You are in a meadow, millions of stars in the sky. Just the warm breeze, and the moonlight flowing through the trees. That’s your happy place, right? No? Oh, I forgot! That’s the happy place of Phoebe Buffay, the famous character from the epic TV Series, FRIENDS. When I first heard her describing her happy…

Toy train ride from Kalka to Shimla: Don’t even think about it!

Beware of every blog that talks highly about the toy train ride from Kalka to Shimla; none of the authors have actually been through the journey themselves. The one who has traveled in the Shimla-Kalka toy train understands the pain of aching muscles, hurting joints & stiff neck. After 6 long hours when the torture ends, you come out of the train a little shorter & a lot crazier.

Toy train ride is only meant for kids below 10 years of age. With seats meant for dwarves, one can hardly adjust their bu** cheeks on the cushion. The space is enough only for one person which is why the other one sits half on the seat & half in the air.

This wasn’t enough which is why the Railways decided to play a game. They declared all compartments, general. So, anyone who has a ticket can board the bogie & stand above your head while you sit half on seat & half in the air. The only thing that salvages this journey is – the few moments of scenic routes during the journey.
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The fight for the window seat:

The railways want to have all their fun at the expense of toy train passengers which is why they have screwed up the seat numbering in the toy train. The window seat numbers indicate aisle seats while the aisle seats are numbered by the window. You can imagine the amount of fights that happen because of this.

Oh, did I use the word ‘aisle’?! Sorry, there is nothing like an aisle in a toy train. Since they can’t expect the passengers to hop above one another, they left a space of hardly 1 foot between two seats. One can’t even stand there.

As far as the luggage goes, you may very well keep it on your head since there is no space available to keep it. Or better, seat the luggage on the joke they call seats. And you sit over your luggage. That way, there will be at least one body part of yours that won’t pain at the end of the journey.

Rely on God when you ride a horse in Kufri, Shimla

A stretch strewn with rocks, boulders & stones; a ride that’s 15 -20 mins. long & your fate that’s entirely dependent on the mood & prowess of your horse that’s taking you uphill, crossing the muddy, swamps & maneuvering its way to Mahasu Peak. Oh, we are talking about the much-recommended experience of Kufri, Shimla –…