Almora: Trip of the introverts
I reckon every trip that you make has an underlying theme to it. Since I’m still trying to discover myself socially, I’ll call this the trip of introverts. There were four of us — Yash, Puney, Shikhar and I. All of us who like to spend our time in solitude instead of partying the hell out of things. At first I had serious doubts that this is ever going to work.
But we chose just the right place at just the right time. The people for such a situation were just about right as well.
We were pretty amped up for this trip since the last two weeks. We found it hard to focus on our internship work at hand, and instead, spent time making to-do and to-carry lists. I expected a lot of noise and frolic on this trip, for the previous trip had too much of it!
At the very last moment our organizer shifted our place from Mukteshwar to Almora because of a forest fire caused near that region, and we were actually upgraded to this amazing resort in Almora. The property is barely a month old but it has everything you could ask for. The underlying theme of the entire place was “serenity”. There were no ceiling fans (we didn’t need them anyway), and no city noises at all. The only sound you could hear during the day was the chirp of birds singing sweetly all around you.
So here’s how our journey went.
We boarded a train from the Old Delhi railway station at dinnertime, an “express” train which was around an hour late. We had to contend with four sleeper class seats that were booked away from each other, to add to this was a joint family of 15-16 members quarelling in the train and keeping the entire bogey fired up and alive. We had some chicken from KFC which kept us satiated (except for this one friend who’s a Jain and doesn’t even touch eggs).
Thankfully, the large family of fifteen departed at Moradabad and we had an entire cell of seats to our name. The weather grew cooler and more pleasant and so did our urge to upgrade our ticket to an AC-3-tier. We had chai and some packed snacks on the way, after all, I had to settle with four days of cheat meals and I had made peace with this. We opened up about our college lives and discussed some “bonus content” we didn’t knew about each other.
We barely caught an hour of sleep when we arrived at Haldwani. We made a decision to get out of the train here, but we were so late in making this decision that we literally had to jump off a running train.
We booked a cab through the winding mountain roads of Haldwani. We were accompanied by a very friendly driver on our way who guided us through the interesting bits of the route. It didn’t take us long to realize that the Kumaon people in general are a warm bunch of people who like to meet new people.
After long hours of some sleep-deprived travel, we finally arrived at our resort were we were given a nice room. We stretched our feet on the amazing mattress and fell asleep in a matter of seconds.
We woke up in the afternoon and did a small trek towards Dipeshwar Falls, which is a coy waterfall located at the base of the Kumaon valley. After walking in the unusually sharp sun (which is normal for 6500 ft high place), we put on our life jackets and jumped into the icy cold water of the waterfall. That was the freshest I felt in weeks. I lied down on my back and let the calm water gently drift me as I looked up on the waterfall crashing down metres in front of us. “It’s such a beautiful world,” I said as I smiled like an idiot.
Sitting under the waterfall was an entirely different experience. It was the violent kind of quiet. I could see multiple rainbows in front of my eyes and that was pretty much it. Imagine sitting under your shower, but with a super-slippery rocky surface underneath and a hundred such showers all pouring water on you at once. Even if the force of water was 10% more, one could’ve hurt their back from sitting under it!
After getting cold beyond our tolerable limits, we jumped out of the water. We then had a cold sandwich and went back on the same path. This time around, the path seemed a bit more difficult as we were climbing up.
We came back and chilled out in the balcony which had a beautiful view of the green, forested mountains of the Kumaon valley. A strong wind started blowing and some minutes of downpour made the weather even cooler than we could’ve wished for. Still, it was good enough that you didn’t have to put on a sweater.
When the sun set, we started preparations for roasting chicken by the fire. It took awfully long to cook the bird, but boy, was it worth the wait. The smokiness of the wood infused itself well into the meat. It was a bit too chewy than we would’ve liked, but wasn’t half as bad as the chef of the cafe predicted it to be. Maybe it was our hunger from the day’s exertion or the chef’s homemade schezwan sauce, but it was a very satisfying meal. We chatted all through the night, called our friends and made them envious, and got into a nice, deep slumber.
We woke up on the next day and did nothing. Absolutely nothing. We cancelled all our plans to go the wildlife sanctuary or the area which had “hippie cafes.” After so much travel, and our own nature of being, we found it much more enjoyable to grab one of the books on the cafe shelf and sit down and chat about philosophy, businesses, college experiences and much more.
As the evening was about to settle in, we took a stroll towards a reserved forest area near the resort. We collected pinecones, did some feral-child stuff, clicked some great photos and headed back. We found it a little hard to digest but we had to get back the next day.
For our consolation, the owner of the resort was kind enough to triplee us on his Royal Enfield and roam about in the market at 9 in the night. We are still talking about Harleys in our trip WhatsApp group.
We woke up comfortably after missing out on a magnificent sunrise view, packed some of that amazing schezwan sauce that the chef had prepared for us, and headed back home. The trip down the mountain to Kathgodam station is a fun one.
We met a very weird but very sociable driver who kept us both annoyed and entertained throughout the journey. He made sure he didn’t slow down in the tight, winding road, with the dexterity of the rally car driver. He also made sure to bitch about the ladies who didn’t give a shit when he tried wooing them. Moreover, he high-fived nearly everyone on the way back.
This made me realize how well-knit these pahadi communities are. Maybe an example for people like us living in metros who hardly know our neighbours, despite living much more densely. Maybe our social bonds are a result of us living too close to each other and being self-reliant about basic necessities; a luxury the village people don’t really enjoy. They live in beautiful-yet-harsh areas where a roadblock due to a landslide or a collapsing bridge might mean days off from basic services we come to take as granted.
Maybe people bond best over shared difficulties. Like we did, often questioning what’s meant by enjoyment in the traditional sense and is partying and being loud and putting up Instagram stories about what food we’re having, all actually enjoyable. We all (except one) made sure we weren’t using our phones all that much, except for the occasional call we got from our family members. We didn't put stories or photos on our socials during the trip. Maybe, we ever won’t. Who cares anyway?
The themes of introversion and society were running in my head when my friends snapped me back to reality with the ongoing F1 Spanish GP. We watched the race in the train, discussed the upcoming plans, arrived at our destinations, and waved each other bye.
Until next time!
This is something I was kinda afraid to try out at first. But documenting my journeys helps me relive them and feel nice and fuzzy on boring days. I often write about the places I've been, but not publically. Would love your honest feedback on this new format. Cheers!