‘Looking back on boyhood years, even unhappiness acquires a certain glow’.  – Ruskin Bond

This excerpt from a poem I read in grade 12 comes back to me I sit here at my work desk, digging deep into my memory for stories I can share on our travel blog about  journeys and vacations from my childhood. Sadly though, it is only vividly stupid memories that seem to surface. Since my boss has asked me to post a story right away or come to work on Saturday, I will swallow my meager pride and allow you all to have a laugh or two at my expense.


I must have been a toddler of four or so when I went to Dhanaulti for the first time. Barely an hour’s drive away from Mussoorie, this tiny hill station is typically misty with cold, cold breezes blowing with chilling consistency. The child me, like the present young-adult me, had a bit of a problem keeping her footwear on. However, a barefoot scramble on the rocky landscape had me injuring my little toe and I spent the rest of the back being piggybacked around on my dad’s strong shoulders. That’s what I remember from Dhanaulti – a hurt toe and the harsh wind.

It was years ago that we went on a family road trip to Rajasthan, during my winter vacation. It was my first experience with the Pink City, one that I remember quite a few bits from. The Rajasthani puppets we picked up from there still hang in my room, and two tiny pink and green mirror-studded jewelery boxes still rest on my dressing table at home. The shopping delights of the place remain stuck in my mind, as does the image of our host, my grandfather’s friend who made extremely snide remakes about my appallingly thin frame. The highlight of the trip, however, was the ugly brown bolster i slept on for lack of a pillow. My neck was at 90 degrees angle all night.


At thirteen, I went with my older sister to visit our aunt in Switzerland. On one particular weekend, we visited Paris. On the train back to Geneva, I was made aware of the charms in possession of a woman..errr..okay, girl.  A black-haired, rosy-cheeked boy a few rows away who looked my age blatantly ignored his grandfather to spend a good hour staring at me. Since it is time for stupid confessions, let me just go all out. That was my first experience with the blushes that only the admiring glances of an ardent onlooker can bring. After a lot of catching-of-eyes-and-then-looking-away, he de-boarded, way before our stop. The icing on the cake? He peeped in even from outside, straining his head to get a look inside the tinted train windows. It is an important moment in a girl’s life, you know, realizing how effective batting eyelashes and coy smiles can prove to be.  Still, its creepy how I remember this in close detail. And its shameful how I never fully let go of these tactics.


Here’s one last story from my childhood, one that I’m sure a lot of us have endured. Parents are really smart people. They put in the car with your ugly stuffed bear and take you on long drives, plying you with sweets and chips till you’re in s state of complete bliss. Then they burst your bubble of assuredness and push you in the waiting arms of a child specialist who unceremoniously sticks a needle into you for preventing the usual childhood afflictions that parents try to save their kids from. That’s Rudrapur (Uttarakhand) for me. And then my dad wonders why my traumatized self is still reluctant to step into that town for my Driving License test.


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Meghna – who has written posts on WAH Blog.