25th December, 2015
Me, Shashi and Laxmi gathered at the breakfast table. It was Shashi and Laxmi’s last day at the homestay. They were going to leave for Coonoor after finishing breakfast. Coonoor is a very beautiful hill station in the Nilgiri district of Tamil Nadu. They both were already late. While having breakfast we were having our usual conversation.
“Shashi, finish fast. We are getting late. I’m going up now. I’ll get ready in five minutes”, Laxmi said, swallowing her last morsel. Right then, Shashi stopped chewing, turned around, looked at me and burst into laughter. I knew exactly what a married man like him was laughing for. I too burst into laughter, even though I didn’t want to, because I thought Laxmi would feel embarrassed if I did. But I couldn’t control it. Laughter is so damn contagious. It spreads like a wildfire.
“Ok, Ok, I’ll get ready in 10 minutes”, Laxmi said, hiding her embarrassment. She took a last sip of tea and went to her room. Shashi left after a while.
I had planned to visit Dubare Elephant Camp but was having second thoughts. When Paul Sir asked me what my plans for the day were, I told him “I’m gonna spend the whole day here sitting in the balcony, doing some bird watching”. Paul sir smiled, wished me a good day and went to his shop. He took Shashi and Laxmi with him. He was going to drop them at KSRTC bus stop where they would catch a bus for Coonoor. Shashi and Laxmi took a leave. They wished me good luck for the remaining adventures of my road trip and also for the upcoming cycling road trip to France. I wished them the same. They both were a nice couple and I’m glad to have met them. This trip had given me two new friends.
I was enjoying my time in balcony, sitting on the sofa and carefully watching through binocular, every movement of a hornbill seated on a distant tree. My phone rang, the call was from Shashi. I picked up the call. Shashi sounded little tense.
“Hi Pranay, have you left for the sight-seeing”, Shashi asked. Apparently he had forgotten his laptop bag at the homestay. He requested me to come half way towards Virajpath where Paul Sir would pick up the bag from me and return it to Shashi. They had already missed the bus due to this mishap. I told him not to worry and to let Paul Sir leave for his job. I felt odd to let Paul sir go through the trouble of travelling back and forth. I told him, I’m coming there at the bus stop to deliver his bag.
The KSRTC bus stop was 14 kms from the homestay. I traveled on the same route I had traveled a day before. I reached the bus stop and delivered the bag to Shashi. He said he too was feeling odd to let Paul Sir go thorough the trouble to get the bag. Shashi showered me with words of praises for delivering his bag. His wife, Laxmi was already very furious with him for forgetting his bag and causing delay. Luckily they had another bus coming in half an hour.
In the afternoon I got lucky with Paul Sir’s binocular. I spotted 8 Hornbills together on a tree very close to the home-stay. By 6 pm, Paul Sir came upstairs to call me. We were to leave for a Christmas party at a Cliff Resort. Paul Sir’s relatives were all going to meet up for a Christmas eve. Paul sir invited me to join the Christmas celebrations. Me, Paul Sir and his wife left for the resort in Paul Sir’s car. The resort was huge with big lawns spread around it. It already seemed crowded. The Christmas lights were glittering in the dark night. Paul sir introduced me to many of his relatives. I met two of his cousins who had done Ladakh trip on their bikes long time ago. I could easily connect with them as we shared the same adventure spirit. Three of us spent lot of time sharing our adventure stories.
Later in the evening I found myself seated at a table with Paul Sir and many other men enjoying their drinks and delicious snacks. I did not realize how an hour went by while chatting with the new acquaintances I had made there. We went inside the resort to have dinner. After dinner we drove back home. I thanked Paul sir for inviting me for the celebration. It was quite a surprising experience I had not expected in my trip.
We reached home. When Paul sir switched off the ignition of the car. I came out in the garden area of the home-stay and looked up at the sky. A sight of dark night sky illuminated by billions of stars is becoming more and more rare now a days. I never a miss a chance to enjoy the beauty of the night sky whenever I get a chance. Looking up at the starry sky feels like looking deep inside myself. All the stars are millions of light-years away from each other yet they appear so close. Sometimes I get baffled when I think about the nature of space, time and space-time.
End Of Day 14…