Non-statutory warning – It is a lengthy post.
It was summer of 69.
If only I could say that. I am all 60s in my outlook and orientation but unfortunately, I was not alive in 1969. I was born in the 1980s.
‘Summer of 69′ is the epitome of ultimate nostalgia. It has that kind of old world charm around it which a statement like – “It was July 2008” can never have and yet this is about July 2008.
The workforce in my office had returned from their summer vacation which meant that people like me who were not bound by the kids’ summer vacation (being childless) could now plan to take a few days off and head to the hills. It didn’t matter to us if the peak of summer had already passed working in the air-conditioned premises of the office and monsoon was not a good time to visit the hills. All it mattered was to see the unseen and take rest.
So, we (husband and I) headed for a 3-day break to Nainital. We boarded the Kathgodam Express from Sarai Rohilla station in Delhi at 10.30pm. The overnight journey was an uncomfortable one since our last minute booking had ensured we got the tickets for upper berths in the sleeper class next to the lavatories. My sense of smell is not as sharp as that of husband’s, hence I was sure I could manage the stink till morning but he had one hell of a time. He wished for some sleep which remained elusive owing to the large chatty family sitting and picnicking on the below berths. Unconcerned with a hard time 2 passengers were having in one of the compartments, the train fulfilled its promise to reach the destination at the said time. We gratefully alighted from the train and hired a cab to Nainital.
The weather was pleasant and the town was nearly empty since the tourist season had got over already. We stayed at the IOCL guest house. During our stay there, we did the usual touristy stuff – boating in the Naini lake, going up the cable car to reach on top of a hill to see nothing but eateries and trash all around, visiting the Bhimtal, Naukuchiatal, Saat Tal, and Nal Damyanti Tal. Looking back it seems our sole aim was to do boating in all the major water bodies we encountered in the Nainital district to suffice for the boating opportunities missed during our lifetime spent with our parents. We also visited a few more places like the aquarium in the middle of the Bhimtal lake, the Hanuman Mandir on the Bhimtal – Naukuchiatal way, a temple with lots of bells, a tea estate in the early morning mist and an ashram with a legend of its Guru who had fried pooris in water for a feast at the ashram.
The memory of the Nainital visit is still afresh in my mind even after 9 years. I would rate Nainital higher than Shimla any given day.
But, wait for I haven’t told you the most interesting part of the vacation.
It was rainy throughout our stay and we had not brought an umbrella or a raincoat from home with us. In Delhi, you hardly need an umbrella because either it does not rain there or it pours hard rendering the umbrella useless and I am sure raincoats are not totally unheard of.
We are not the souvenir buying types which means we hardly visit local markets when on vacations. However, this time we had to take a detour to the local market to buy an umbrella. We went to a shop and told the shopkeeper what we were looking for. He must have laid out atleast 10 pieces of umbrellas on the counter and we or rather I was completely undecided which one to buy since all of them looked identical. It was then the shop assistant brought out from the inner confines of the shop an umbrella in bright red colour. While I was still soaking up in the bright aura which had made its way to the counter, husband deftly ordered the shopkeeper to pack the red umbrella. In the 2 years that had passed living together, he had come to know that my life stopped at red. Give me a hundred choices and leave me confused, show me a single one in red and I will be all synonyms of the word sure. A happy and satisfied customer walked out of that shop that day.
Now, let me tell you the reason behind remembering Nainital and especially that umbrella buying incident.
A few days ago I was at the tailor’s shop to pick my 2 old tunics given for alteration. A reduction in size from XL to L is cementing my hitherto non-existent relationship with the tailor because dress alterations have become the need of the day. I hope you noticed my skillful insertion about that bit of me getting leaner. Thanks for noticing (if you did).
Okay. I was there to pick up those 2 tunics. Both were red in colour. Then I took out the wallet from my handbag. It was also red in colour. I looked around to make sure if Dhruv was close and he was wearing a red T-shirt. And then there it was. The same red umbrella whose handle was protruding out from one side of the handbag. The same red umbrella, my constant companion in Bangalore.
I rushed out of the tailor’s shop hoping the tailor appreciated the glowing red aura all around me.
Linking this post with #MondayMusings hosted by Corinne Rodrigues