My heart must be pounding at 180 beats per minute!!. Peddling my hired bicycle for close to 5 km, I ended up in an open farmland in Dahod, Gujarat where my parents hail from. I should have been exhausted as I had peddled fast and was now far away from home. Should have been aching in my legs as I was riding non-stop and racing with the cars and trucks and the state transport buses. However, my soul was exhilarated. After all at the age of 10 years aches, pains and tiredness is never a part of your life. Yes, I was 10, and riding a bicycle alone on the highway far away from my folks who trusted my judgement to keep myself safe and alive. And I was “that” only son who they prayed and prayed for (Of course, now they wonder why they wanted me so much in the first place. That’s why they say, be careful what you wish for, it may come true!!). Now, how many of us as parents allow this liberty and ‘freedom to roam about’ to our children these days? I know, I don’t. If it was possible I would have injected a tracker in my daughter’s body like they do in Bond Movies and tracked her whereabouts 24/7.
Anyway that’s beside the point. When I stopped riding I was in an open field with farm workers harvesting the crop. I shut my eyes and it seemed it was for a long time. When I opened them, I was in a village in Palampur in the lovely summer of 2014, sitting in a wheat field where farm workers were separating the wheat from the chaff. I had grown older, half a lifetime had passed by, but the feeling of exhilaration was intact and our kids loved it. The fresh air of farms, no pollution whatsoever and beautiful snow-capped mountains surrounding us on all sides made it an ideal setting for a village holiday.
We stayed in this private bungalow called “Seclude”, that staying true to its name was in the middle of nowhere. The name of the village was “Mathred” that claimed to have a total population of 343 living beings.
Wow!! There are 343 people staying in my building in Mumbai I think. Since we had a secluded bungalow to ourselves we decided to spend our evenings in the wheat fields. Our Public relations officer (Dr. Sushrut) spoke to some villagers while we engaged ourselves in taking some nice pictures of them. The kids spent the evening playing with the cows and goats in the field. Something that they really enjoyed. There was nothing to do at seclude and our kids befriended this awesome puppy called “sheru” who became a part of our family in 3 days. We all cried when we parted ways with sheru and said goodbyes.
In early days of my life I used to be frustrated when I was taken to a place with nothing to do. No swimming pool. No activity center. Coming from a hectic life between implants and smile designs and full mouth rehabs and lectures and teaching schedules and a hundred deadlines to meet, when I came to a place as secluded as this, I felt empty. But gradually it all sinks in and I don’t want to go back to work. I cherish these “Nothing to do” holidays now.
One morning we drove about 50km to go to the Andretta Artist’s Village where the kids enjoyed making a few pots, some shaped well and a few unshapely, with guidance of workers there. There are actually people, well mannered, educated people who come to this village and were enrolled to do a pottery course for 3 months. I found that to be amazing. It should be fun. I would love to pack up and go somewhere to acquire a new skill set in a subject I know nothing about.
In fact, we should all remove time to try out a learning experience like that someday.
The best thing about a place with “Nothing to do” is that your trip will have a lot of long walks. Morning walks, afternoon, early evening and night walks and each of these will have great topics discussed.
Luckily for us we had great conversationalists in our midst and finding things to talk about was not an issue. But the best walks are those in which you just imbibe the natural elements of the place and there is no need to talk.
One of the evenings was spent soaking in a river bed at Palampur.
Freezing cold water did not deter the kids and us from taking a dip. The force of the current was strong and we had to brace ourselves, else we could get carried away. That night was our last walk around the wheat fields and we saw ‘ten million fire flies’ making a great impact in the jet black darkness of the night that surrounded us. The darkness felt more profound as we would have to leave this beautiful place early morning and depart for Dalhousie. The only good thing was that we would come back to Palampur for one last night before we head back back home. The last day was a Tea Estate abode for us (http://www.dralitunkiwala.com/blog/?p=35).
Picture perfect settings in Palampur, a relaxed mind-set and lot of quality time with family meant that the kids were laughing and dancing all the time. Eagerly waiting to come back soon…..