On the 1st I posted a letter amma had written to you. I have sent three old photos as well. We are all fine here. On the 1st, 2nd and 3rd we had heavy rains in the night and the days were pleasantly sunny. We went to Endpoint for our evening walks. Amma and I walk till the cricket grounds, Kuvara and Aravinda walk till the end. There are two grounds on the way to Endpoint for students to play cricket, football or anything else. I must have told you earlier, Endpoint is one end of the hill that is Manipal. From the road to Endpoint we can see the Arabian sea in the distance and sun setting over it is beautiful.
To continue with our trip, it is more than a month since we returned from our vacation and thos days seem like a dream.
On the 17th we planned to leave early in the morning to Nainital. The previous day we had asked our driver about going to Nainital. He said taxis could go only till a place called Bhawali. We would have to go by bus from there. This being the peak tourist season there is a lot of traffic in Nainital. All vehicles are stopped some distance away from the hill station. Five vehicles are allowed to proceed every hour, the others have to wait. He said we could go by bus to Bhawali and from there take another bus to Nainital. He promised to come at 6.30 as there was a bus at 7. But he came a little earlier saying there was bus waiting. We were not yet ready and by the time we reached the bus stop the bus had already departed. The next bus was at 7 and we wondered what to do. A taxi driver was waiting in his car on the side of the road. Devender spoke to him and arranged the trip for us. This driver had come there the previous night from Kathgodham and was looking for passengers for his return drive.
We left Kausani at 6.40.
We enjoyed speaking to the driver, Diwan Singh. He told us a lot about the life in the hills. He said there is plenty of water here, there are many natural springs and people do not have wells near their homes. They build tanks to collect water. Excess water flows back to the rivers. On the way we saw people busy working in their paddy fields on terraces on the slopes of the hills. Oxen are used to plough the land. People cultivate rice and wheat. They grow dals, potatoes and onions too. He said people eat rice for lunch and rotis for breakfast and dinner. Rotis are made not only from wheat flour but also from jowar. We reached Almora at 8.25. We bought Bal mithai and Singodi, the famous sweets of the region. They are made from milk and cane sugar. We had tasted them when we stayed in Almora.
The pine trees on the mountain slopes look majestic. The road leapt from one mountain to the next, with valleys sometimes on our left and sometimes to our right. At certain points we were very near the mountain streams flowing by and then we were far above them. At all times we were very near to nature.
At 9.15 we stopped for breakfast at a small hotel by the side of a river. We sat in the balcony looking up at the mountain and down at the river. We ate aloo parathas, chole, curds and pickles. The vegetable pickles here are very tasty. As we came out a man was selling plums grown in his garden. We bought some.
We reached Bhawali at 11o’clock. We paid the fare and waited at the bus station. The bus turned up, and a young man helped us with the luggage. We reached Naintal at 11.40. A very crowded place. There was a lot of confusion about reaching our hotel. This was because of the mad traffic in that little town. It is as bad as the traffic situation in our big cities. Hotel Viewpoint was about 3kms away and at a much higher level. We called the proprietor, Mr Jitendra Rawat and told that it was almost impossible to find local transport. Some taxi drivers were charging exorbitant fares. He said he would send a taxi. But due to traffic problems it did not arrive. We had to wait for about 2 ½ hours. Taxi drivers face a lot of problem here. Then Jitendra sent a private car. We were waiting by the roadside near Naintal lake watching people. It is quite fascinating but at the same time we just wanted to reach our hotel.
It was almost 2.45 when we reached the hotel. Nainital is crowded and full of tourists. But tourism is the main source of income for most of residents of the place. Just one more day and time for us to return home.
“Untouched by humans,
God’s gift and nature’s bounty
Pure, fresh mountain air.”