I found Mussoorie by chance. And it stayed with me .
I was in high school , and two of my cousins and I hatched up a plan to approach our parents for a supposed pilgrimage to a holy site in India ( it got us financed in less time than saving for the trip !) . When we reached Delhi , we learned that the train lines to Jaipur ( called India's Pink City ) were flooded out . As the leader of the group - I had to come up with an alternative . So, I decided on Mussoorie , and from there to Laksman Jhola and Harduwar ( so instead of going to the muslim holy places , we decided to dip in the Ganges at Harduwar and visit the holy hindu shrines at Rishikesh ) ! Regardless to say , our parents were horrified when they learned about this , and there were endless debates and urgent family gatherings the next few weeks trying to gauge what mishaps await the three of us due to our actions . I was quick to point out that we can undertake another "financed trip" to go to the original places and lift this supposed "wrath" hanging on us and I would be willing to put the plans together in the shortest possible time - which was met with a resounding no as soon as it was put forward !
But, Mussorie stayed with me , and I went back and back to it five more times all the way while I was in Med School.
Mussoorie is known as the " Queen of the hill stations " and is in Northern India - about 7,000 ft. above sea level - developed during the British rule of India as an escape from the scorching heat of the plains . With its picturesque setting in the mountains , misty clouds and tantalizing sunsets - Mussoorie is harder to forget than the first kiss with your childhood sweetheart. I remember how the first time I was there , we met two other students and went hiking up a hill and shared three bottles of rum ( my very first dig into alcohol ) and my cousin started crying because he was too drunk and afraid to come down the hill. It was getting dark and we had to talk and convince him for two hours that it was do-able ! Other times , I went on my own . Except once . My father had asked me to drop off some stuff he sent for his friend in Kolkata on my way to Mussoorie . After I had delivered my errand , the family invited me to dinner and gave me some things for their daughter who was in a school in Simla . Although it meant a detour , I couldn't refuse ( the picture of their daughter in the living room did not in any way influence my decision ). So from Delhi , I went to Simla for a day - and there I met B . She was a whirlwind and molten lava moulded in one . After delivering my packages , she asked me where I am heading to - and I said Mussoorie - she just jumped up and said ," I am going with you !" Within an hour , she had everything planned up , and while her parents were thinking she was going to Delhi to attend her classmates sister's wedding , B and I were in a luxury tourist bus on our way to Mussoorie just two hours after we first met ! I distinctly remember the bus rolling on at night with a sound asleep B's head on my shoulders - when the thought occurred to me that B's father is a high ranking police official in Kolkata and that the news of this trieste might one day leak out - these distinct facts and possibility combined might have a direct impact on my future well-being ! And the reality that every time I visit India , I have to go through Kolkata was also bearing down on my mind ! When I told that to B , she just looked at me and said , " You cannot live like a lamb Raj ! " . Somehow , it wasn't very reassuring , and from that day on I developed a deep sense of respect for dads who either keep guns within arms reach or are NRA card holders ! But B and I didn't turn back , and spend the next five days in Mussoorie - watching sunrise and sunsets , strolling down camelback road , hiking up and down the hill paths and enjoying the eateries in the sprawling hill town . My friends referred this to Honeymoon without the marriage deal . Something like this just happens to be in one of my stories , but again, art never imitates life - right ? Art just develops from the essence of the experiences in life .
I was in Med School when I escaped to find refuge in the heavens of Mussoorie again . The people in Mussoorie believe they live close to the heavens , and they maybe right. The most enticing thing that used to captivate me about Mussoorie was the daily sunrise stroll to the mountain cliffs . I used to trek up the hill and sit down watching the sun clear the distant Himalayan peaks and extend its rays down the Dehradun valley with clear crisp clouds staged together like welcome carpet to its shines ! I would take my seat on this bench , and the chants from the temples would bounce back from the hills - it was amazing - I could never see the temple on the other side of the mountain , but would be captivated by its sounds for hours until I would decide to get up and hike downhill .
There was a time of about nine months that I had to go through some tough times in my life . I went to Mussoorie twice in those nine months. Each time stayed there for a week , gathered my thoughts , spend some time alone , and wrote . The story that got me Med School attention and got me published in different magazines for the first time , was written here . And I wrote these series of twenty-three poems that I named " Borshar Bishonno Ponctimala" roughly translated means : " Sad verses of the Monsoon " - that I would like to collectively publish one day ( some of them have been published in different magazines ) .
Musoorie will always be special to me . Its serene air , lush green and steep hills has always been there for me . I found not only my thoughts bouncing back from its hillsides , but my longing for life and love as well. It not only gave me memories of boyhood , and the blazing warmth of a warm soul and a picturesque landscape - it also took my pains , my anguish - and gave me a new lease on life .
Here is one of the poems from " Borshar Bishonno Ponctimala " :
Yet , how strange it is
You are in the same town as me .
The same breeze -
that gives me my dreaded breath of life
without you -
Winds up the dust on your path ,
Makes its way through the ruffles of your hair ,
Waves the trains of your saree in the wind .
I can still see you in my eyes , my love ,
Locking your hair in your fingers
And looking at me ,
Opening the wooden door
Standing at the frame and falling in my arms ,
Running into the rain
And giggling happy in the afternoon .
How big is this town -
that hides you from me ?
Why its winding pitched streets ,
does not lead me to your door ,
Its deeming lights
does not reveal the outlines
of your form that I desparately
long to see.
Do you see the same sky , my love ?
Does the same patch of clouds
brings shade and sun
in your world ,
Do the same birds fly past your
longings to a destined lagoon ,
And the same rain brings nothing
But days of thirst ?
The nights does not bring
sleep anymore for me ,
The days are without dreams ,
My eyes are wide open
But blinded by my longing for you.
When the shining sun
will hang on the ledges of my window
And hectic life will engulf the streets ,
I will open my eyes just like you,
to live another listless day of a listless life ,
see the same sky, feel the same breeze ,
drench in the same rain that clutter on your roof ,
Without seeing you or your smile ,
Without touching your lips or your warmth -
Yet, how strange it is -
You are in the same town as me.
pictures of Mussoorie courtesy of : steven caudill at www.pbase.com/scaudill
more info and pics of Mussoorie at: www.geocities.com/ranj74/mussoorie.html