It was almost evening and dim lights of the street had started to blink when Tanvi was jolted out of her dreamy thoughts. She had to find a place to stay put. In India, getting a safe place, and that too for a single and unmarried lady is no less difficult than searching for the elusive sanjeevani booti. And to add up to the difficulty level was her budget. Cheap and safe rarely go hand in hand. How Tanvi wished if she could meet someone smart and sassy like Shahid Kapoor right in the middle of this quaint hill town to help her, just like Kareena Kapoor found him in ‘Jab we Met’. Alas these love coincidences happen only in Bollywood movies. In reality, you will only get crotch rubbing men standing at roadside and staring.
Tanvi crossed the Kasauli brewery, Kasauli club, Gurudwara, the Baptist church, CRI building, Monkey Point, and Nahri temple but was unable to find an appropriate place to stay even after an hour of driving through the winding roads of Kasauli. It seemed that the initial honeymoon with Kasauli would soon convert into a horror experience. She couldn’t stop herself from thinking about the famous ghost stories of British hill towns though she wasn’t a big believer of them.
It was just 9 pm, not at all late by the standards of a metro city but hills are different. Long winding hill roads, pine trees on both sides of the narrow road, occasional water stream dripping from atop the hill and forming a cess at the corner of the road, screeching sound produced by wind blowing through the trees, deep darkness around except for the light from the car’s headlight; Tanvi was getting unnerved. She was missing the predictable home where even in the middle of the night she could touch the right switch to turn on the bathroom light.
From a distance Tanvi could see a faint white light atop a triangular structure. She was relieved to spot the famous Church of Kasauli. Tanvi was sure to get some help here. She stopped at the gates to marvel the magnificence of this structure built in 1853.
The gatekeeper, an old man in his 60’s, with only eyes visible from inside the monkey cap was holding a stick (lathi) in hand, apt only to shoo away monkeys; was woken up from his slumber by the click-click sound of the car’s auto lock. Irritated, he stopped her from entering the gate and gave a distasteful smirk when Tanvi enquired about a place to stay as if the moral police didn’t approve of a lone girl at this hour. He mumbled something from inside his muffler about an inn named Winnes, opposite the road behind the church premise. Scared of any further judgement, Tanvi left the place, only half understanding the instructions.
A few steps ahead she saw a girl in her 30’s waving to stop the car in her gloves covered hands. Tanvi got sceptical and decided not to stop. However, when the car drove in closer and the headlight fell on the girl, she seemed from a good family with her curls peeping out of her cap and Nike shoes confirming about her economical status.
Tanvi stopped the car and the girl ran towards the car with a big smile. She pulled down the window slightly and the girl thanked her profusely for stopping, “I am stranded here. Can you give me lift till the next bend?” she said while her breath settled on the window pane forming tiny droplets.
Tanvi unlocked the car and gestured her to sit inside.
Read the previous post here – Chapter 7 – Let the Music of Life Play On
Read the next post here – Chapter 9 –