Incredible moments come unannounced. Always. Like they did on a fine August day last year as we were getting ready to drive back to Chandigarh. The moments were surreal, and simply out of this world. Those incredible moments came rushing in at us through a large gaping hole in the sky. But wait… we’ll get to those moments soon enough. Let me tell you why we were where we were.
Chandigarh wasn’t hot in August but it wasn’t cool as well. So we decided to go on a day trip to Kasauli and play a bit with the clouds for a while. I was driving. Kitty, my brother-in-law was sitting beside me. My wife, my nephew, and my niece were sitting on the back seat.
Clouds on the hills
‘Hill driving is great fun,’ I said to nobody in particular. And, expectedly, no one answered. Quite obviously everyone was looking outside and expectantly waiting for some magic to happen… it is always like this when someone from the plains is driving up the hills.
‘Cool breeze,’ I ventured again, and continued, ‘Hope Kasauli isn’t too warm. After all it is still only mid-August.’
We were on a sharp bend and I had a gut feeling that Specky, my wife, would ask me to focus on my driving, when I heard her say, ‘Slow down.’ I slowed a bit and queered, ‘Anything interesting?’
‘Stop wherever it is possible.’
‘Ok,’ I said and soon enough I found some space beside the road. You can’t stop just anywhere when you’re meandering up a mountain road.
‘Isn’t this simply heavenly?’ My wife was pointing to the clouds that had suddenly appeared and were fast moving upwards and seemed to be in a hurry to swallow the hills on the other side.
‘Incredible,’ I muttered and pulled out my camera to take a few shots before the hills finally got swallowed by the clouds. Quite a number of cars that were driving up, had stopped and people were watching this fascinating drama of nature.
‘It was lovely,’ said my wife and then smiling at me, continued, ‘but you can’t say it was incredible, can you?’
I smiled back and started walking back to the car.
Fun on the rail tracks
We were all so mesmerized by the moving clouds that there was absolute silence in the car as I drove ahead. After a while we noticed that the rail track to Shimla was right beside the road we were travelling on.
‘Hope the train passes by,’ said Pavni, my niece, ‘haven’t seen a train chugging on mountains ever. And I’ve heard it moves slowly enough for passengers to climb down, walk a bit, and then board it again.’
‘No, the train doesn’t move that slow,’ said Kitty and added, ‘and I don’t think it is time for it as yet. The one going up must have passed a couple of hours back and the one coming down starts late in the afternoon.’
We were quite disappointed to hear this. Soon we were at a crossing, yes, a railroad crossing on a hilly route!
‘Incredible,’ I murmured again.
‘This is surely a marvel of technology,’ said my wife, ‘but surely doesn’t qualify to be called incredible.’
‘I’ve a feeling that this day is going to be full of incredible things,’ I answered.
By now we had stopped, were out of the car, and walking towards the tracks. It is always fun to be posing with the rail tracks as the background… and in this case, we had the addition of a small tunnel too!
Capturing water droplets
We would’ve remained longer near the tracks had it not started raining. Our drive towards Kasauli began again and soon we had taken the turn from where our destination was barely 8 miles.
‘Look, there’s a clearing there from where we can watch the winding road below.’
This was our third stop but it was certainly worth it. It had stopped raining and there were water droplets waiting patiently to add more to themselves and fall or just slide off leaves, flowers, barbed wires, trees and even stones with protuberances.
‘Capturing water droplets is an incredible experience,’ I said loud enough for my wife to hear me, but she just smiled and made no further comment.
From fascinating to seductive clickable moments
Yes, Kasauli is indeed filled to the brim with romance. You can walk to the Gilbert Trail and be at peace with yourself. The path winds away from all roads and habitation and you have joy in discovering a solitary bench on a vantage point where the mountain juts out. Just sitting here gives you a view meant only for those who dare to move out of the regular circuit. Yes, the path is narrow, wild, stony, and intriguingly lonesome… but the sights are awesome. You can stand on the path and see the sharp decline with fir trees precariously swinging and singing in the untamed wind there. You just want to stand or walk ahead not wanting a bit to turn back and enter the civilized world again.
There are the brightly coloured flowers all around in Kasauli. You come across sad monkeys waiting for some fun to happen, excited goats wanting to eat the leaves that are furthest from them, dustbins that are shaped like little houses, clean roads, quirky slogans on milestones and other sign-boards, and lone benches kept for tired walkers. Kasauli is indeed a place where you have no choice but to get seduced by the natural beauty there.
No wonder, I went on saying ‘incredible’ after every few minutes… and my wife kept reminding me that the real incredible moment was probably nearby but yet not apparent.
The small and compact market of Kasauli is quite near the old church and is full of colourful wares… barbers using razor straps to sharpen their razors, quaint umbrellas with curved colourful handles, shops selling cow-bells, and a surprisingly new ‘something to eat’…
‘Bund samosas?’ I was surprised to read this on the roadside tea-and-snacks-shop and wondered what it was.
‘Bund in Hindi is for closed,’ I added, ‘ and samosas are closed. So what could a bund samosa be?’
A closer examination told us that these were normal samosas pressed and placed between a sliced bun and served with spiced up chole! We did taste them and found them simply delicious… but then we were probably quite hungry by that time.
After walking back on the other side of Kasauli up to the Monkey Point where there was a temple right inside the Air force station there, we trudged back to the western side where we had parked our car.
The incredible moment
I was tired by this time, the sun was in a mood to set soon, and we were walking slower than our normal speed when Specky shouted, ‘Look!’
‘Now what?’ I was reluctant to even look anywhere but the my exhausted feet.
‘Camera, take out the camera fast,’ her voice was excited, ‘or you’ll miss this scene straight from a Hollywood movie that shows UFOs landing.’
‘UFOs!’ now I was fully alert and zipped out my camera and then looked up in the direction she was pointing.
Not a sound anywhere. Everyone was silent. Watching, just watching. Intently, with eyes wide open. Yes, it was indeed as if the dark skies above had opened up and a UFO was intending to land there right before our eyes on the distant plains visible from this vantage point in Kasauli.
‘This is incredible!’ said my wife.
‘Incredible!’ I repeated.
‘Incredible,’ said my nephew, niece, and Kitty.
Click. Click. Click. The only sounds one could hear besides the hum of the wind and the occasional distant horn of some vehicle.
‘Looks like God decided to part the dark skies and look below for some lost treasure!’ said Kitty.
‘A torch from above,’ mumbled my not-so-talkative niece.
Yes, what we saw that day was a sight that, I’m sure, must be quite a rarity and we’d have missed it that day too had we parked our car on the east side or had decided to return early to watch the toy train from Shimla, or had not decided to visit Kasauli on twelfth of August that year!
But it was probably destiny that worked in its own strange ways to lead us to that precise point on the hills where we were able to be with this marvellous and incredible moment that nature presents when it… what should I say, feels really happy!
See the pictures and do watch the video (which is there after the pictures are over) I’ve created to bring that incredible moment alive!
Video: UFO in Kasauli:
09 April 2012