Shillong revisited


Last winter I left home to be back for a brief while in spring. This Yuletide break was a long planned homecoming. Booking the tickets was an elaborate ritual, trying to travel cheap and comfortably with enough luggage to remember for a lifetime. I slept for a decent afternoon after my ride to Shillong, I remember waking up to have dinner and going to sleep again.
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Nothing has changed, the roads still look the same, the many matchbox houses on the hill look freshly painted and the mistletoe and the holly just make you smile, making you forget the numbing cold that even cracks water pipes!! The khlur (star in Khasi) and the tree with all the snow and the decorations , wow, I love Christmas!! The radio played beautiful carols besides old gramophones creaking once in a while to give stiff competition to digital music. The aroma of fresh baked pies and cakes have begun, days before the little child comes home. Exams over, rosy cheeks out in the sun and pickles too!! Elders rush to change the curtains and scrub the floor to its shiny mansioned polish best. The mothers are out shopping, from toys to everything. Father Christmas is busy too, behind the fur and red, he is a young man in jeans who gets a pittance for walking around spreading cheer and gifts. The traditional Santa comes only at the stroke of the midnight of the 24th, we keep our best and biggest bags around the Christmas tree from 8p.m. onwards hoping to catch Santa in his act, but until date...I have got his gifts only :)

The lively carol singing in the evenings, the door to door singing, goodies, gentle fun and waiting for the 25th is such a nice journey. Come 24th, we are in our 2nd best outfits, the best one is reserved for the next day :) we have lots of events in the church besides the all important prayers and psalms. The hugs and blessing of love and affection carry you through the next year until next Christmas.

This year was no different.Calling up friends and wishing the merry wishes, my day was very solemn. Before that, I made sure I met my friends at college, they were happy to see a healthier me and a Bhutan trip got aborted as much as it was planned :(

Dad accompanied me on my PB darshan, I had wanted to see and visit all the shops I used to frequent. I also went to my favorite temple and showed my face to God/Goddess and the pandits. Divinely peaceful, got to eat my manpasand savouries at home. Mom was on a major mission to make me eat less despite the variety available. I gorged on momos and eggrolls like nuts and had my favorite Chinese soup at my favorite restaurant almost everyday, hail Kimfa!! There was a minimum of 2 fish preparations at home everyday. I was not allowed to skip dinner :(

One good thing about going home in winter is you don't have to take the city cabs. You can walk and walk and get a total visual treat of all the lights and beautiful villas all for free!! And it is good physical activity, plus point!! My cheeks did have the winter red, a lil chapped but I love them.My legs ached but they were in need of that much needed exercise.

One day before Christmas, I met Aroma and Kongthei ( elder sister in Khasi) and bought them ear-rings. The conversation never dried up, we were forced to quit each other' s company. We had so much to talk, our walks to remember have versions now!! The next day was lunch at my best friend's place. My sister and I went, Bunty was mighty appalled with my voracious appetite for the feast and the sweets and cakes, obviously so!! A very cold Christmas, we missed Arzu a lot, she was travelling and it was a hilarious evening discovering/unravelling the advantages and blessings of Bluetooth technology!! You see, I was flaunting my new mobile ;P. Acquiring the mobile is another story. I also got a new pair of blue tinged glasses, slightly Matrix influenced :)

The next few days, we went out majorly and my parents' only concern was girl is not spending enough quality time with her folks, I am a sold -out for sentimentalism actually, so stayed grounded for the next couple of days, both parties felt good- I did some spring cleaning, took out my cartons of books and sorted them out. Again, this is a fetish to keep my mental registers ringing in times when I have to recollect which carton has which book.

Shopped like mad, something something for everyone possibly, but still, I might have missed out on a couple or more, and I failed bigtime with the cakes and the intended butter biscuits that I so wanted for novelty's sake. I was already dreading to pack, so many things and so little baggage these airlines allow :(

I enjoyed the Christmas soiree, took pictures of the oldest Christmas tree in the world, older than the 1st Welsh Church in Shillong, set up sometime around 1874!! The tallest was in the Garo hills, it will take a complete 27 hours for me to travel there, did not bother, maybe some other time.

I remembered the post-Christmas feasts in the Church, they used to be so yummm and funnnnn!!! No luck this time, too many engagements( pun intended).

I went to my Alma Mater, Duttada was so happy to see us!! And we were on a major Kodak mission. I hate to tell you this but Tuesday came sooner than expected, that weekend was a family lunch at our favorite Dhaba and the chilli paneer taste is still lingering...

I was packing with a vengeance, balancing and distributing my stuff from the strolley to the duffel bag and vice versa. Rejected a lot of shorlisted items due to lack of space and carrying limbs...now I find the 10 handed goddess Durga very appealing.

Monday was an emotional reunion of sorts of the 3 A's after an odd year rushing to come to a close when all we wanted was an ever after of gay abandon. We spent as much time as possible and I rushed home to spend the remnants of the 365th day of an eventful 2007 with family. Ask me about multi-tasking, whew, it is a tough job to satisfy every dear one, I can hear my body giving up, prayed to all the ants of the world not to kill my resilience. Family dinner, the drama and fanfare at the city square, music, crackers, 2007 slipped from my hands. I retired to bed early, on my old cot, my familiar pillow and that house I call home, whispered a quiet bye for sometime,asked them to protect me and help me stay rooted in 2008 and for all time, still very hard for me to swallow how much I miss those familiar things. My garden thrives on the hard weather, it blooms also in winter with the tough marigold giving sunny company. My mobile was switched off, I refused to take the happy 2008 midnight calls, don't know if that was good or bad, but I was aware when 2007 gave way to 2008, Mom was sleeping beside me that night like old times..

Tuesday saw a hurried rush in the morning, Dad was looking dapper in his suit , ready to see me off to the airport, I still had a couple of hours at home but I was so worked up, did not see the flow of reactions. Only after I got ready I realised I was going away. The previous evening, the 3A's had our senti- moments, I realise how time flies.As usual, I did not turn back to see her hiding her tears and I rushed after a quick embrace or was that a hug?? My eyes welled up but a quick brush and the blue hued glasses helped a lot!!

The bus ride was peaceful except for a close call with embarrassment, trust me not to visit the toilet when the bus stopped!! But again, I am patient :) The airport came and due to some rules, visitors were not allowed in, Dad and I stood in the parking for close to one hour just below a 360 degree revolving security camera. The agony was as much as I wanted Dad to be around till the last minute of check-in, I was concerned about his travelling back to Shillong on the 1st day of 2008, not that Guwahati did not have relatives , we did but on the new year, it's family, right??

My check-in was almost due and I saw those old hands fidget. Both of us were dignifiedly tragic and a hurried kiss and a warm hug were my best new year gifts from Dad, I saw him leaving by the 'exit', disappeared as I tried to get the last glimpse... grudgingly I pushed my trolley to the departure area, bravely to deal with any excess luggage, if at all!!

I braved it out like a Sherpa,no penalty with the Deccan flier. Only that certain Manoj Kumar at the security had a major panga with my 15kg (nobody knew that) duffel bag, he thought I was smuggling tea, please!! Some national literature in it impressed him so much that his attitude softened and so did mine, I was almost about to create a scene, at the most what would have happened, missed my flight?? eeks!! Indian Airlines is supercool, except their horrible sense of delay, but forgiven on the ground of taking care of my Sherpa 15kg duffel bag :) besides my strolley, combined weight would have been some 30+kg(??) on a very very low flight rate :)

Landed in Hyderabad pretty late, no one to receive us, was unpacking until 1 in the night, sleep eluded me...
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