Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Nothing lasts forever…

It pains to watch the news these days. Images and video clips of the devastation in Uttarakhand seem to be occupying all real estate available. Orphaned children, landslides and bits and pieces of houses floating in the rivers don’t seem to make Mother Nature’s fury lose some intensity. These images of the religious northern state try to wash away those beautiful memories that were formed just a month ago…

A vacation meant visiting a place that would take us away from the chaos of our workplace and the madness of our daily routines, this year the quest for a perfect vacation took us to Auli, a beautiful town in northern Uttarakhand.

Dev Prayag

Our journey to Auli meant meandering through countless Himalayan mountain peaks, listening to Alaknanda, Bhagirathi and Ganga happily gurgle as they danced their way down the mountains, meeting occasionally at various Prayags…the confluences of the rivers, splashing different shades of blue and green across the Himalayan canvas.

If the sheer beauty of the journey was not overwhelming enough, the spectacular sight on reaching Auli left us speechless. The magnificent Nandadevi or the majestic Neelkanth, they all humbled us with their overpowering presence. Smoldering sunrises and melting sunsets adorned the mountains everyday.
Melting Sunset

Sudden sprinkles of rain showers gave rise to carpets of colorful wildflowers along the mountain side. Trekking up these mountains and experiencing nature from such close depth added certain freshness to our days there.
The Mountain side

This abundance of natural beauty seemed to have rubbed off on the locals as well. Having been in the mountains, they lived a simple life, some earning their livelihood through terrace farming while others with tourism and running what were popularly known as Gharwali Dhabas.

One such Dhaba and its owner left their mark on us. Bhandariji added his gharwali charm to our stay. His Dhaba was located just outside our resort and guests like us were his main source of income.

The Sun God is most kind on those who dwell up high in the mountains thus the blazing heat we experience in the rest of the country is unknown to these areas. A pleasant weather with the occasional chill during summer and icy cold winters ensured that Bhandariji’s “garam chai”, “pakodas” and “Maggi” sales don’t taper down much. However his sales might be, we always found him smiling, perched on a stool outside his Dhaba that doubled up as his home as well.

The Dhaba
A few days into our stay, while sipping some hot sweet tea, we casually asked him if we could get some authentic gharwali food in and around Auli. Bhandariji broke into a big broad smile and requested us to let him serve us lunch the next day.

Sharp at noon, we arrived at his Dhaba, mouth watering aromas of Aloo Paranthas and Rajma Chawal engulfed us as we perched ourselves on to the only furniture available - Bhandariji’s bed and a few plastic stools. With great eagerness and love he served us food in the limited plates that he had. It was by far the best Rajma Chawal we had ever had. The fact that he cooked for six of us with just the two vessels he had on a rickety old stove only added more flavor to the most lip smacking meal we had during our stay.

Good things come in small packages; our vacation was but a week long. We bid adieu to Bhandariji and the rest, to return to the monotonous craze of our daily lives…we returned to our crazy schedules but something had changed. Auli and people like Bhandariji had given us a new perspective, taught us to value life a tad bit more...

The clock chimes nine signaling the start of primetime news. Those gruesome images once again make their way into my mind, trying to wipe off those everlasting memories with present day reality…

I stubbornly hold on to them, firmly believing that someday Uttarakhand will hobble back to normalcy…someday  Bhandariji and all those hapless souls will get back what has been snatched from them…someday life will be what it was always meant to be.



  1. Beautiful writing...Seeta, as serene as the place you described...what a pity that the serenity of the place has been disturbed as a result of man's follies...

  2. Thanks Sudeepa. Yes, it hurts even more that the ones who wronged nature dont seem to realize it..

  3. Our hearts cherish for simple things, when not clututred.

  4. Beautifully penned, Seeta! ! My memories of the place from more than 20 years ago are still so fresh in my mind. Hope the big-hearted and strong-willed people of the area bounce back soon.

  5. Very well written Seeta! Way to go!

  6. hey Max good to hear from you after long, how are you guys doing?

    Jai- thanks and amen to that!

    Kartik- :) :)

  7. totally agree.. our recent holiday in Uttarakhand left almost similar impressions on our hearts and souls.. we stayed at a homestay for 3 days and got to experience pahadi hospitality first hand.. amazing weather, fresh produce for all meals, no television/internet made us realize what we are missing in TRYING to be part of a rat race..

  8. Beautifully captured... so working in Media line had its effect on you :)

  9. I have never been to Uttarakhand....but the way you described it made me feel I have been there countless times. As if all those moments of cherished sunrise I have seen with feet on damp grass and the smell of a foggy beautiful dawn...was captured in this post..!

  10. Never been there. These pics are treat to me. :)
    Great read.


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