This was the final day of our Shillong tour. It was the shampoo day. A creature who had lived in a hostel doesn’t take bath regularly during winter. For me, I don’t bath for 7 days during winter. On that chilly morning, I dared to wash my hair so that I could take nice selfies. After having a nice breakfast, I asked Moon, “What’s the itinerary for today?” With a smiling face, he replied, “At first, we will head towards Tagore’s house followed by Elephant falls, Shillong viewpoint, Umium lake and then back to the hotel.” I said, “And what about the cherry blossom festival?” He replied, “After completing the trip, you should freshen up yourself and then I will take you there.”
Rabindranath Tagore, the first Nobel laureate of Asia is an icon for Bengali community. Mention any genre, any celebration, any season, any human emotion, you can find a song regarding that. He hailed from a very rich family. The Tagore family had a vacation house here in Shillong. Rabindranath wrote his famous novel ‘Shesher Kabita’, here in Shillong at that vacation house. To my uncle, that novel was the epitome of romance. So he was the most excited to see that house. Surprisingly he didn’t doze off a little bit this time. Upon reaching the house, I found out there was signboard stating ‘Beware of Dogs’. I was hoping a fierce German Shepherd will come out; instead, some local people came out asking what was our purpose for intruding into private property.
We were shocked to have such welcome. Dad asked, “This is the home of Rabindranath Tagore. We came from Kolkata to visit this place.” They replied, “We know that, but recently a businessman has bought this house. So please leave.” I was stunned. We quickly took some pictures and left. Before leaving I saw the name of the house is ‘Jitbhumi’. Literally means ‘A land of Victory’. But the Bengalis lost a gem to some businessman. With a heavy heart, we headed to Elephant Falls. There’s nothing special happened. We just trekked down the falls to take some pictures. It was a crowded area. So if you are going down, please mind the moist weather and wet stairs. It’s dangerous.
Chapter 5: Scorching Sun, Clear water and Living Root Bridge (Part 2)
So, after being fried in that heat, when we reached the bank, I saw Moon was gathering rocks. I asked, “Why are you picking them up?” Masi smiled, “He said that these rocks will help sharpen my knives.” Moon said to me, “Didi, all of you go to the washroom if you need. We will leave for the border within 15 minutes.” Oh God! That washroom! It was stinking but at least it was not dirty. Dad already bagged some cucumbers and chips and water bottles for the journey. It was past noon. The area became congested due to traffic. So, I would suggest that if you go to Dawki, please visit this area before noon or in the afternoon.
After crossing the traffic, we finally got some speed. Moon was showing us the border side. The side of Bangladesh looked like the nearby neighbourhood. Moon told, “Daily many Bangladeshis cross the border to sell things here and sometimes they sneak into the Indian side. Security is very tight here.” I was wondering 70 years ago this land was undivided. May be back then children used to play at the no man’s land or maybe there were some houses. Eventually, we reached the spot. To be honest, you can skip this spot if you wish. There is nothing to see except the border gates. We lost time due to this trip and we were late for living root trip too. Still, my mother didn’t forget to take at least 10 pictures even though the BSF was insisting us to leave the gate as soon as possible.
Losing almost 2 hours from the border, we finally took place. There was no network. All we could feel is that Moon was driving it hurriedly. After driving for 1 or 1.5 hours, Moon took a break. It was 1:30 pm. There was a beautiful fall at that place, called Borhill Falls. It is better called a cascade. The waterfall made a stream which flows toward Bangladesh. The scenery was beautiful. Few tourists were taking a bath on the upper stream of the falls. I asked, “Moon dada, how did they reach there?” He smiled, “They took a different road and that won’t lead to Mawlynnong.” I sighed. Still, what amazed me more was the white flowers which were covering the hill.
Chapter 5: Scorching Sun, Clear Water and Living Root Bridge (Part 1)
It was day 3. I was sleeping like a sloth under my blanket. I could hear, my father was shouting, “Get up rascal. You need to shower. At least go to the potty. I can’t manage a bathroom this time.” I could hear mother was asking, “Yes, bring three parathas and tea too.” Now folks, if you visit the hilly regions, you must try the parathas (stuffed bread). upon hearing the name of paratha, I finally got up. Brushing the teeth, I was looking at the frozen snowflakes on the window sill. Whoa! Was it snowing all night?
By 8:30 am, we were ready to leave for the day. While travelling, I always carry a small bag containing, my phone, wallet, charging battery, umbrella, earphone, comb, lipstick, eyeliner, necessary medicine and a mirror. My father calls it grandpa’s mitten. This time also was no difference. Moon was a very punctual man. As promised, he came by 8:00 am. I said, “Brother Moon, good morning. What’s today’s schedule?” He replied, “Today we are going to have a long journey. There are only two spots to cover, Dawki river and living root village. But if you guys don’t hurry up, we can’t be back by 8 pm.” Suddenly, we heard, “Be careful. Did you forget about my knee replacement surgery?” I smiled, “Moon Dada, buckle up.”
Journey to Dawki was long. Dawki is a river which has crystal clear water. If you search for its photo, I am sure you will be amazed to see its beauty. It seems like the boats on the river are floating in the air. So when I asked my mom to visit the site, she immediately said, “Yes.” It took almost 3 hours to reach there. But the road was really interesting. We crossed many hills of limestones. Moon said, “This area exports limestones to cement factory. Many people even smuggle them. You know, as the Bangladesh border is nearby, smuggling is easier.” After one and half hours of driving, he halted twice for a few time. Each time he said, “Click some photos if you need.” And each time, I said ‘cheese’ until my mother was satisfied with photos, worthy of uploading on social media.