The ever insistent Sunny Deol, in one of the innerwear ads, gave a very philosophical advice – apna luck pehen ke chalo. I understood the true meaning of those deep words on our trip to Chail. Having never travelled in peak season before, I never knew how it feels not to find a place to stay, how to be talked down to arrogantly by hotel owners who suddenly behave like fathers of an eligible, successful NRI.
Good reason apart, the primary reason why I have always travelled when nobody does is because I hate people. I see enough of them in the city, I would loathe to see them on the way, at the destination, and jostling for traffic space on the way back. I hate people.
Anyway, coming back to the trip, on the first day, we stayed at a lovely but eventful homestay that I will talk about later. In this one, I want to take you to a place for which we lied to our day one caregivers, bumped off other aspirants and fondly remembered Sunny Deol. Btw, none of us wear or endorse Lux underwear. I wish and hope not, at least. Anyway, the place is East View Homestay.
And, the name is a mega lie. It views east, west, north in every other direction, a whole 300 degrees of the allotted 360. But the owner is not a fool, he is a lovable, simple and very handsome man with a beautiful, cordial, shy wife and two children that any toy manufacturer would love to hire as ideals. And, then there are the grandparents – a whole three generations of perfectly adorable people in one house. And, trust me, I am not going overboard.
There is a small little signboard on the mainroad that informs of its existence. You can’t take it seriously. We didn’t, on the first day. On the second day, we came back, parked on the main road and walked through the forest to the homestay. It was a short road, but we took an hour. You tend to lose sense of time when you are busy capturing the winds through the pines on your phone. How miserable and how enjoyable!
When we reached the place, I vowed never to write about it. Now that I am, you know how much I love you, people. Anyway, we ended up committing to create a Facebook page for him, undertaking some rudimentary online promotion, couriering a flex once we were back and spent two hours convincing him why he must jack up the prices by 50%, as soon as we checked out. I will set up the Facebook page as soon as I finish the post. Promise.
Anyway, the house is set amidst a step farm. As you cross the bamboo gate, there is a cow shed on the right. Your ghee, butter and milk comes from this factory. As you walk down, your hands will brush against marijuana plants, too young to be useful. Next, the plum, mango and the pear tree. Then, the house. Because the house is built on a step firm, the owner and you can have a ground floor each, in a two storey house, and you can have the most awesome first floor balcony with a view to induce instant nirvana.
In the front, there are step gardens that have cabbage, tomato and capsicum plants. Inside the house, there is a large room, a small room, two bathrooms. But we lay spread out in the balcony throughout the first day. That’s when we got emotional and with tears in our eyes pleaded with him to raise room rent.The house that they live in is large, with a large kitchen. In fact, all our food was cooked in this:
Dal, bhindi for lunch and pahadi chicken curry for dinner and alu paratha for next day breakfast. Food was basic and deliious. The chicken recipe came from the grandfather and was cooked by the son.
When we were not idling in the balcony, we set out to explore the jungle around. The walks were solitary and green. We were discussing how wonderful the place would be during monsoons and the Lux principle kicked in again. Towards the evening, dark clouds came out of nowhere and it started drizzling. We ordered for tea and pakoras and watched the most memorable light and sound show from our prime seats in the hill stadium.
The sky continued to crackle and disintegrate all night long. We munched on the pakodas, listened to jungle stories from the owner, the ones about tigers must have been tall tales, though. We took turns at being DJ and played old bollywood songs in the mild light of battery operated lamps.
The next morning, it was clear and sunny. The property owner and our guide packed parathas, mint lassi and we set out on a walk to a hill top nearby. Last night’s water had left many marks and just like you and me, the jungle smelled a lot better after a shower. We walked up and down the hills on narrow little trails, at times, stepping on slippery stones, at others, looking down a thousand feet fall.
Eventually, wrapped in conversations about assassin dogs that can kill tigers and stories about goat herders, we reached the peak, which was actually a plateau with a small pond. Nature here seemed to have been inspired by Lord of Rings movies and tried to mimic CGI beauty. We tried the panorama lenses on our iPhones and Lumias and compared the results. Realised there is still a massive gap between what one can see and what can be reproduced via technology.
We stayed there for less than twenty four hours. But the goal was achieved. The question of why we travel was answered. We all live in our own little microcosms and we travel to satiate the very human need of looking from outside in, of not just knowing but realizing that there is a universe out there, to re-remember the truth that life is bigger than what we see everyday, to accept that in such a large universe there must be hope. There must be.