So we decided to take a trip to Shimla.
We are no travelers. But after some long, hectic days at work, everyone deserves a holiday. Holi is coming and this time it’s on Monday, making it a three day weekend. Yay! So without taking a day off, we can go to any nearby places. My pick was either Manali or Kasol. My husband suggested Shimla. After some discussion, we decided on Shimla.
“Let’s go on a backpacking trip.” – the adventurous me suggested.
“Backpacking? Are you sure?” – the realist in him confirmed.
“Why? Is there a problem?”
“Do you even know what it means?”
“Yes, I do. It means you pack your backpack and go wherever you want.” – I answered, showcasing my knowledge.
“Yes. But it will not be feasible for us.” My husband said. ” Let us do something. We will book our round trip tickets. But no hotel booking. Are you okay with this?”
I thought for a moment. This is not bad. We can do that. “Okay” – I said.
We booked our tickets to Shimla. We googled for hotels in Shimla just to get an idea of where to go when we reach there. No consensus seems to be forming. So we decided to book any hotel which is available upon reaching Shimla.
We didn’t get tickets for the Himachal government buses that run from Delhi to Shimla. Instead, we booked for a private bus service and our tickets are for Friday, 10 PM. We chose Vidhan Sabha metro station as the boarding point.
On Friday, I had some important work related to my research. So I went to the University. I left after 5 PM. It takes around one hour to reach home. We have not yet packed for our trip. I rushed and quickly packed our things. My husband reached home at 7 PM drenched in a mixture of several colours (they played holi at their office). He immediately went to take a bath. I quickly prepared our dinner in the meantime. We had our dinner as fast as we can and left home by 8:30 PM. It usually takes 45 minutes to one hour to reach the boarding point during normal traffic. So we should be able to reach on time. Or that’s what we thought.
There’s a huge traffic on Ring Road near the crossing for Bhairon Marg. “It’s okay. We are still on time.” – I told myself. Fortunately, the traffic started moving and it cleared after 10-15 minutes. Near Indira Gandhi Stadium, we took the right to skip the signals. We were moving fast until we saw another traffic near the point where the Ring Road touches the Raja Ram Kohli Marg. The traffic was not at all moving. Now this is bad news. We waited patiently as we are near our destination and we are still on time. However, the traffic didn’t move for 15 whole minutes. I started panicking. What if we do not catch our bus and all our plans go in vain? We heard somebody say that the traffic is until Kashmere Gate. And this is the worst news for us. It means we will be late. Now I am on full panic mode. My husband called the number provided in the tickets. After two to three trials, he was able to reach the guy. To our relief, he said there’s no problem. He will make arrangements so that we can travel. Finally, I took a deep breath.
The traffic was worse than ever. Our driver took a shortcut once we reach near Kashmere Gate. He drove us through Old Delhi and finally dropped us at Vidhan Sabha Metro Station. It was 10:30 by then, and we had successfully missed our bus. My husband talked to the person checking tickets and got confirmation that we can travel on the next bus to Shimla. Lots of people were there, some will be travelling to Shimla and some to Manali. After waiting for another half an hour, we finally board our bus and left for our holiday destination.
After a peaceful sleep, I opened my eyes to see the pleasing weather of Himachal Pradesh. The weather was cold and there’s more than 3 hours left to reach Shimla. I started some light talks with my husband. But after some time, I started to feel sick, as if I am suffocating and need fresh air. I started sweating in that cold weather. I told my husband that I am not feeling well and I am going to close my eyes to take rest. I tried hard to feel normal but the feeling won’t go away that easily. Then it suddenly clicked my mind that I had motion sickness since my childhood. ‘Oh God! Why now?’ After some time of struggle and tossing from side to side in the seat, I puked. Fortunately, we packed some extra polythene bags to carry wet clothes. I used one of them. I felt so embarrassed. The vomiting seems to be not stopping at all. I puked for three or four times with some interval in between. All these times, my husband was patiently offering me water and rubbing my back when I was busy doing my business. Finally, it stopped after sometime. I slowly held my head up. Through my tired eyes, I saw a lot of people are vomiting. I felt somewhat good now. ‘I am not alone then.’ – I thought, with an invisible smile.
After some time, the bus stopped. The conductor told us that we will stop for 15 minutes and we can have morning tea and breakfast here. I washed my face and we had tea. Then we started moving again. After about 2 hours, we reached Shimla.
At the dropping point, cab drivers were fighting to get customers. One of them came to us and we started bargaining. After some time, he agreed to take us to some hotels. We board the cab and left. The driver showed us 4-5 hotels, some of them were not available at that time and some we rejected. Then he took us to a travel agent. He sold us a hotel room and a trip to Kufri. ‘Next time, we will book our hotels beforehand. No more backpacking.’ – I told myself. He dropped us at the hotel which is near Mall Road. Finally, we reached our room.
The weather in Shimla was literally freezing. I had never experienced that much cold. We quickly had our breakfast at the hotel and left for Kufri, all these time shivering in cold. We did pack jackets and sweaters, but it seems they were not enough to fight the cold.
And then it started snowing. My first time experience with snow. I was quite excited, almost like a kid. I tried to touch the snowflakes through the car window. The geometric shapes of snowflakes always fascinate me. It was truly an astonishing sight. We enjoyed a lot, and took some pictures on our way. We are not good at posing, so we took pictures of the surroundings.
After spending few hours in Kufri, we came back and asked the driver to drop us near Mall Road. He dropped us after some time and said we have to walk as no cars are allowed in Mall Road. He told us the way and left. The weather cleared a bit and sun is shining through the trees again. In spite of the sunshine, it was still freezing. Still shivering, we started walking through the gentle slope.
Till that time, our cell phones were long gone and the point-and-shoot camera we carried lost its power. We reached Mall Road after walking for another 15 minutes and we went to The Indian Coffee House to have coffee and some snacks.
Again, it started to snow. This time it was heavy snowfall. The roads became white with the snow. We waited inside the restaurant for some time. Unfortunately, we could not capture the moment as our cameras were out of power. I cursed myself for not charging our devices beforehand. Little later, the snowfall reduced and we started to walk towards the Ridge. We were roaming here and there when it started to snow again. We walked fast to take shelter somewhere as it was becoming difficult to walk in the snow without an umbrella. “Let’s buy an umbrella.” -I suggested. He agreed and we bought one big umbrella and started walking again. Although it was freezing, we enjoyed the walk through the snow and explored almost every part of the Mall Road. We ate lots of snacks at the roadside stalls.
As the evening was drawing near, we packed something for dinner from a shop and left for our hotel. The cold weather was enough for the day and we immediately wrapped ourselves with blankets in our hotel room.
Next day was sunny. No snowfall at all. We went to Mall Road and had breakfast at The Indian Coffee House (It’s a very good place. Do visit when you are there.). We walked through the Mall Road again, and took several pictures. The sights were breathtaking.The food was awesome. The weather was still freezing, yet it was quite pleasant. We sat on a bench near the Ridge. We enjoyed the view and appreciated the beauty of this place.
Due to my husband’s commitment at the office, we had to return on that day. I didn’t want to leave that early. With a heavy heart, we left to the ISBT in late afternoon. As the evening drew nearer, the temperature dropped towards the negative side. We were waiting for our bus and I was shivering uncontrollably. We bought a thin blanket and I wrapped myself with that blanket as my husband was not shivering like me. Finally we board the bus and sat on our allocated seats.
The return journey began. I made the circle complete by vomiting again, this time using the bags provided by the bus (had to ask for more). A lot of people followed suit. I felt relatively good after some time and tried to sleep. The seats in this bus were cozy and I immediately fell asleep (we booked our seats in Himachal government bus).
The cold gradually disappeared as we neared our distance to Delhi. By 4 AM in the morning, we reached Kashmere Gate. Lots of autos were waiting. After some bargaining, we board one and started towards home. This last leg was the end of our vacation.
The umbrella is being used as a wall decor since then.