We walked back to our rooms refreshed and rejuvenated after our walk in the woods. As we neared the hotel, we saw a huge monkey sitting on a window ledge. It was soon joined by another one from inside the room. It had food packets in its hands and its mouth was smeared with something white. Which idiot would leave their window open I asked my mom before realizing that the window was ours. Luckily some of the hotel people had spotted the monkey too and they raced upstairs, grabbing some long poles enroute. It took them quite a while to drive them away and the room looked as if the hurricane had swept through it. Thankfully the door to the sleeping area was closed so our luggage was safe but the monkeys had gone through our food very methodically, opening packs of biscuits and namkeens, eating what they liked and throwing away what they didn’t. Chocolate biscuits and powdered milk seemed to be a great favorite but they had spat out the aam papad and haldiraam namkeen. The room had a trail of half eaten biscuits, interspersed with another white trail of powdered milk and sugar. It took half an hour and the combined effort of three of the cleaning staff to restore order.
The wind whistling through the trees and the chirping birds woke us up early the next morning. There were no human sounds. We trooped down to the now empty lawn. The sun was yet to rise and the hills were still dark smudges. It was cloudy and the hills were swathed in mist but the sun made very valiant efforts to peep through it. No one was about except us. It was quiet and very serene.
Later, as we waited for the usual tourist hoards to descend on us we discussed how to spend the days away from the maddening crowds. But surprisingly there were hardly any visitors for the next two days. The hotel staff told us that the rush is usually limited to Sundays.
We walked through the woods, deep, dark, Tranquil. The great pines and deodars were bent with age; almost covering the narrow path with their leaves and forming a canopy that made you feel as if you were walking in a cool green cave. To be honest, we could see the bare patches where deforestation had taken place, the noise of traffic was sometimes louder than those of the birds but I could still make myself comfortable between the roots of a tree, sprawl on the plush velvety grass and read. If we listened carefully we could still hear the streams murmuring in the undergrowth and the wind talking to the pine trees. There were still wild berries to be plucked from the bushes and conversations with red cheeked kids on their way to school.
The people who enjoyed the holiday most were my parents. Frankly, if left to myself I would have chosen to holiday higher up in the mountains, closer to the mighty peaks and snow rather than a hill resort. But this holiday was as much for my parents as it was for me and it warmed my heart to see them take longs walks together or spend time over endless cups of Kangra tea and books.
I suppose Happiness is also growing old together !