Let’s kick the year off with an out and out WINTER DESTINATION. I’m itching to re-unite with all of you and share wonderful glimpses of my trips. I took a brief hiatus as I was enjoying a beautiful phase of my life. A personal promotion if I may say so (but that’s a story for another day, maybe someday!)
Last month a video of the very dashing English football captain, Harry Kane, diving face first into powder-white snow and then jumping back into the warmth of a hot-tub was doing rounds all over the net. That’s how I would imagine one enjoys the Finnish Lapland in the dead of winter. “I imagine” being the key words.
Little did I know…
“Could you sleep on papa’s shoulder just for a bit?”
She turns her head and voila! back to sleeping.
A solid nap later…
“Hey guys wake up, we’ve reached the Dhaba,” announced my husband.
“I’m famished!” exclaimed my son.
“Ditto,” I agreed.
After horsing down Paneer-Kulchas and Paneer-Pakoras and sweet lassi, we continued on our drive to Shimla, which we had started from Chandigarh. Two and a half hours and a few more broken naps enhanced by amazing music and a generally pleasant drive later…
“Mom is that stall selling Maggi?”
“Can we stop please?”
“Look another one” she pointed again.
High up in the foothills of the mighty Himalayas, by a tiny thatched stall on a narrow winding road we enjoyed the most delicious street-food, Maggi and Masala Chai.
The sun was setting as we entered our hotel.
“This looks like a movie set.”
“Wow! It’s unreal. “
“Welcome to the Wildflower Hall.”
In the night sky the hotel looked like an over-sized ginger-bread house which was covered in fresh snow. It’s foregrounds like a white carpet, dotted with tall trees and lit up by soft lamps. It looked like a scene straight out of ‘Country Living :Winter Edition’.
We knew it had snowed in the area, but we hadn’t anticipated actually living in snow. Our windowpanes were thickly frosted, the brown roof almost completely white, the fire crackling in our suite warmed our hearts and added a hint of drama to our already beautiful evening.
If the night was so stunningly gorgeous, I couldn’t wait to see the snow in daylight.
It was another level of magic.
“It’s a short trail, mildly inclined.” Informed my husband.
“Let’s go and take all the beauty in.”
“Are you sure? We could just walk around in the front courtyard.”
“That’s pretty too, but let’s go on this small adventure,” I nudged.
Fully bundled and booted up, we walked to the outer periphery behind the hotel. The four of us trudged along in a single file stepping on the exact footprints of some braveheart, who had walked on the fresh snow before us that morning. Full of excitement, I initially didn’t notice the steep slope on our right past the first bend.
“A little ahead on the ridge we’ll be able to see both sides of the valley, try not looking down till then,” called out my husband, sensing my unease.
The view from the ridge at the end of the trail was sublime. Thick snow glistening in the morning sun, pristine slopes, clear blue skies, a tiny peak of colorful homes nestled on the mountains on the opposite side, the soothing sounds of nature. We were speechless…and immobile! We just stood there for a long time, taking it all in, awestruck by the beauty.
“I’ll take the lead back, just let me turn and pass by all of you,” announced my husband.
“Where’s the space to pass by?” I objected, balancing precariously on the icy snow.
“Keep standing and just breathe,” he comforted me.
If I thought getting to the ridge was tough, I had it coming on the return. Balancing downhill on a slippery path was far more challenging. Thank God for our sturdy boots. All of a sudden, WHOOSH! Slid my daughter and sat down abruptly. Her blue jeans leaving an indigo dye on the cloud-like white snow. My legs froze and I felt my sugar drop.
“I’ll help you up, don’t worry you’re ok. “
“You can do it, we’re not that far from the hotel.” Urged both men.
Breathing in…we treaded ahead lightly.
On our return, exhilarated with the feeling of conquering the trail, we made snow angels, clicked a thousand pictures and had a great (nervous) laugh.
After the snow, the highlight [and much needed after our adrenaline pumping walk] for me was the hotel’s outdoor Jacuzzi. Perched on the lush white slopes, situated outside the indoor-heated pool area, the hot-tub beckoned us. We dashed from the glass door leaving the warmth of the indoors, the cold air biting us as we submerged ourselves into the steaming hot water.
“This is divine!”
“Doesn’t get better than this”
“It’s snowing!” Gushed my daughter, opening her arms, and facing heavenward.
“Apparently it does around here.” I smiled.
“Wow, what luck!”
We were witnessing the best of both – Mankind and God. The oh so hot water of the man-made jacuzzi while Bollywood’s greatest serenaded us on my son’s speakers, and the majesty of the Himalayas, while the heavens sent those marshmallow like white flakes onto our heads. I didn’t know whether I should close my eyes and feel the alignment through nature with God, or open my eyes and take in the view of the snow-capped mountains and valleys while I dipped in hot water.
I did both.
What we also did, was dive into the snow, ‘Harry Kane’ style and then jump back into the jacuzzi! Many times.
Picture and Video Credit: Self