Mankind has always been the travelling kind. The early men kept seeking out newer places despite obvious difficulties like inhospitable terrain, lack of convenient transportation, dearth of proper places to stay and, more importantly, no internet and Facebook to put pictures and show off and annoy the hell out of friends and relatives.
It is the indomitable spirit to look out for newer horizons that pushed Christopher Columbus to set sail to an unknown distant land. His was an important discovery because the thousands of natives who were living there all along didn’t have a clue that it was America till Columbus arrived on their shores and pointed to them the fact.
And then there was Ibn Battuta. The Moroccan, who visited India during Tuglaq regime, was a famed voyager despite the fact that he never was able to follow the tourist dictum of travelling light. He was born with a huge baggage: His name: Which was: Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Abdullah —- no, don’t stop. There is still a bit left — Al Lawati Al Tanji Ibn Battuta.
Good that there were no customs and immigration system in place there. Had there been one…
Officer: Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Abdullah Al Lawati Al Tanji Ibn Battuta…hmmm seems to be a pretty big entourage. Are you guys on an official junket?
Batutta: (Looking around) Er, I am voyaging single.
Officer: (Picking up the walkie) Security, send some reinforcements to Terminal-3. We have rounded up a man trying to smuggle out some rare archaeological names.
The point is the itch for travel and adventure is deep inside all of us, and it comes out as a raging rash during summer time amidst all the surrounding heat and dust. Now, as the temperature soars and the sweat pours, if you intend to take a break and run away to some loftily-perched cool hill spot, we have one important travel recommendation for you: Don’t.
As the misty, moist morning unfolds leisurely, dew-kissed breeze lazily slithers into your plush room like a surreptitious snake and reach you under the blanket and wake you with its icy lick, while you, half-awake and half-asleep, are sprawled, like a satisfied lover, under the naughty tease of a coquettish nature. This is the image the mind conjures when you talk of hill stations and that is because it has been conditioned all these years by travel brochures, written by people who otherwise spend most of their life in stuffy cubicles. Travel brochures are what blurbs are to books: You cannot hope to read even a single word of truth there.
Hill stations, in reality, are getting worse than your every-day cities. I think science, after having inexplicably missed it all these years, has finally caught up with hill stations. I mean being at heights the sun should, logically speaking, arrive here earlier than anywhere else, right? And that is what it is happening at hill stations.
The last time we went to Shimla, the sun was out in its blazing glory much before seven in the morning and the place was sweltering as if it had apprenticed all night under, I don’t know, Jaipur. But hardy tourists that we were, we just ignored the minor inconvenience and continued with the essential purpose of our travel, which was to pose for pictures in fetching sweaters so that we could convey to our friends that we indeed had a swell time in chilly clime. ‘You know the temperature? It was in single digits. We could barely move the fingers to operate the camera,’ we would say much later when back home while showing the pictures to our friends, who naturally go, ‘wow! That’s awesome, man’. Which of course has to be an even bigger lie. It is not normal to be happy seeing other people having fun. Basically, all those ‘likes’ to your vacation photos on FB are so fake.
Another thing that all hill spots have — our founding fathers had the foresight to mandate it under Article 73 (A) of the Constitution —- is a lake. Boating or rowing on the placid waters on a cool day is — let us admit it — seriously exciting for exactly two minutes. After which you start attacking the hot corn or the peanut in your hand.
Hill stations also contain a large chunk of nature, which are huge outdoor spaces of breathtaking beauty containing barely walkable terrain. In general, when you visit hill spots, you will be basically going around in your cars, honking at other vehicles, dissing the overall traffic, getting down at chosen spots, look around and go ‘look ma, what beauty’ and get back to the vehicle and zip to the next spot and repeat the routine.
We have made these sweeping generalisations in the larger hope that you will be convinced that it is futile to travel to a hill station any more. Quite frankly, we don’t think there is anything interesting for you at hill spots. Just cancel your booking. But don’t thank us. We are only carrying out our duty. We needed to discourage a lot of you as getting hotel reservations for us at hill spots was proving mighty difficult.
But don’t hold this against us. We hope you will ‘like’ the photos that we will doubtless post on our FB page.