Summer 2014: Shillong

I should have posted this a long time ago, but well, excuses and apologies later, here is my share of how I spent my summer.

The headline on 7 June of The Times of India reads “Delhi’s hit 19-year high temperature record”. This was alarming when I had decided to spend the summer in Delhi eating-sleeping-repeat. With the mercury rising day by day, it made me realize how badly this decision has been.

To escape from this heat factory, I thought of going away for a while. But where should I go? I have a friend in Shillong who has been calling me for ages to come and visit him before he graduate next year. Without giving much thought, I booked a ticket to Guwahati, the nearest to Shillong. The journey was supposed to start on 9 June at 11:45 pm.

However, on the 8th June, just a day before the trip, the ticketing agent where I had booked the ticket sent me a text saying he could not get a confirmed seat for me. This was bad, yet I told him to booked it for the day after.

Come next day, it got worse. I received the same message. Without any more confidence in him, I cancelled my booking. I search out for other options to get a confirmed ticket as soon as possible. I know a friend who seem to know a lot about the Indian Railway reservation system and on seeing my desperation, he told me that the best way to get a confirm tatkal ticket is to go to a train station in the wee hours and wait in line till booking open at 10 am. With ticketing agents not helping and Delhi’s summer burning, I went to Saroijini Nagar Train Station taking along two friends of mine on the early morning of 10 June. When we reached the station, there were too many people already in queue and we were pretty sure there was no chance of getting a confirm ticket that day. We went home.

Do you remember Shakira’s Waka waka this time for Africa? Well it is that time again. If you are a football fan, you’d remember that June 12 was the date for the opening ceremony of the FIFA World Cup 2014. I want to think I am not much of a football fan, but my friends are. So we decided not to go to train station on 11 June but watched the opening ceremony instead. However, the ceremony was a total disappointment. The TV channel which was supposed to telecast the live happening in Brazil instead give a talk-show and just a fraction of the real ceremony.

The next morning, we went to the station again, earlier than the first time, but there were already 61 people ahead of me. We were disappointed but we agreed to let our luck plays. At 10:23 am, when my turn finally came, to our utter dismay, I could not grab a confirm ticket. Oh well, long story short, I managed to find another agent and I was able to leave Delhi on the night of 14th June with an RAC ticket.

Fellow passengers

After some 30 hours of travelling, I reached Guwahati. The weather was very much alike Delhi, though a little milder. I was exhausted and so I stayed over at a friend’s place for a while to re-activate myself and when it was finally time to leave for Shillong, I packed my bag and found myself a seat at the back seat of a taxi. I was expecting a bus ride but I didn’t know that there are no bus service between the two cities late in the afternoon and instead there are taxis. A taxi will wait for passengers to filled the seats and the journey is confirmed only when all seats have been taken. After waiting an hour or so, I bade my goodbyes to the heat of Guwahati and as we drove to the winding highway of Meghalaya, it began to rain. This was unexpected. I know for a fact that Meghalaya is a rainy state, yet a surprise welcome in such a heat was not anticipated.

The mountain and trees are a welcome sight

As we drove through the winding road, the trees and the mountains and the greens, I was reminded of my place far away in the hills in Manipur. I haven’t seen my hometown for almost two years now, seeing these trees and the change of landscape was indeed a fascinating sight. Two hours later, I saw signs and boards telling me that I was in Shillong, telling me it was not a dream though I couldn’t believe myself that I was in Shillong.

Centre Point, Police Bazar – The heart of Shillong

Very soon, our vehicle finally reach the heart of Shillong and to the taxi parking. The sky was cloudy and the rain hasn’t stop when I stepped out of the taxi. I was wearing a t-shirt and it wasn’t enough to beat the cold. While I was still in Delhi, I have already been warned of the weather in Shillong and I wasn’t sure of how cold it could be in summer. The weather was indeed very cold.

It was a nice escape from the bustling city like Delhi or Guwahati. The place is quiet and serene. Added to the pleasantry was the rain which goes on for days. It was not an Indian summer.

This is Shillong, serene and beautiful

I planned to stay there for a week at most, but I ended up staying for two weeks. I met some more friends from school, watched and played football, went hiking, sightseeing, everything was so much fun. Because I did not have a decent camera and my phone camera can be mortifying, I could not take picture of everything that I did.

After two weeks, I decided to go home too. It will take another 5 hours of train journey from Guwahati  and 8 hours by taxi to my home. “Shillong is a beautiful place, I will surely visit again“. “You will always be welcome in Shillong, as long as I am here“, my friend replied as we bade our goodbyes and the vehicle packed with passengers left for Guwahati on a rainy July morning.

Is it okay to post my picture too?
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