It was another serene evening in Lansdowne. We have been here for two days now and were loving the calmness and freshness of the air. Located in Uttarakhand in the lap of Himalayas, Lansdowne is a clam and beautiful place. Lansdowne is a cantonment town and is named after Lord Lansdowne, Viceroy of India from 1888-1894. It is currently the command office of Garhwal Rifles of Indian Army.
The owner of the hotel is a retired Army Officer and a lovely person. Few families had gathered and were having chit chat. The sun was going down in the background and shadows of tall pine trees were giving a signal of another peaceful and quiet night. I was thinking about tomorrow and planning what to do. I was looking for something different. Colonel suggested that he could organise a walk to a village which was about 5 kms from the hotel in the morning. what was more interesting was that he could organise breakfast in the village itself. I jumped to the suggestion. two more families agreed for the same and things were organised. At last it was going to be a taste of village life in Garhwal ……. exciting it was……
Morning was exciting….. and what was more exciting was that no one was going to accompany us. The route was explained to us and we marched.
The scene en-route was mesmerizing. Wet path, Pine Trees, Small Waterfalls and deep valleys…. enchanted by loud sound of monkeys and birds….. what else one wants…
It was also very first experiencing for my little daughter of travelling (tracking) to a village in Himalayas. We were greeted by a lovely calf waving its head up and down, seemed more happy to see us in that silent village. The village had 10-12 houses, mostly made of stones. Our arrangement was done at the house of Head of the village and it was not difficult to find the same in this small settlement. The house was small but well painted and maintained. It was dark from inside as there was no light at that time. What I have noticed in these small Himalayas villages is that most of them have electricity.
A lady in Sari greeted us with a smile which was warm and genuine (another characteristic of our villages). She introduced herself as wife of the Head of he village.
We seated ourselves on the chair’s and were admiring the greenery surrounding the house. There was a small farm of maize and vegetables were planted near the house. The little space available in and around was used judiciously. The breakfast served was made from freshly available ingredients. The chilla (Parantha or Indian Bread) was made from freshly plucked maize. There were 2-3 chutney’s (Spreads) made locally. One of them made from sweet lime (Mosammi) was awesome.
There were plenty of Birds in and around and a cat had given birth to kittens inside the house. The lady use to take care of them. We were not allowed to pick those as the cat was near by and did not like we foreigners disturbing her kittens. Another example of living in peace and harmony with nature and its various inhabitants. We miss or we do not care and think to that level with our busy lives in cities. The calmness of the village….. the greenery…… the chirping of birds…… meow of kittens….. playful calf….. and the freshness of the food served and its awesome taste was a experience in itself.
The lady told us that her day starts at 5 am in the morning. Taking care of cow and calf, putting milk for kittens…. sweeping the floor and then preparing food. The nearest bus stop was 5 kms and it was not a problem for them. Going to market was once or twice a month affair. But they were content and happy. There were people to talk to and share your happiness and problems. The festivals are celebrated by entire village and is a community affair. Her husband gets busy during festivals in organising the same. But they all wait for those occasions when they wear new cloths, prepare special dishes and celebrate those together.
The same has become a lonely affair in our cities. Festivals are wished via SMS other social networking sites. At times one keeps on wondering if they will exists in near future or will die a silent death.
We returned after spending few hours to our hotel and uphill walk after a heavy breakfast was taking its toll on our stamina. After huffing and puffing for about 2 hours we reached our hotel wandering what are we doing with our lives in the cities…hectic schedules…… pollution…. health hazards…….loneliness….. and madding crowd….. which is loosing patience day by day……