Well they say that love is in the air, never is it clear
How to pull it close and make it stay
If butterflies are free to fly, why do they fly away
Leavin’ me to carry on and wonder why
– â€œAlways on your sideâ€, Sheryl Crowe and Sting
We start our 15 day North East trip with a journey from Guwahati to Shillong on March 17.
The Guwahati Shillong road holds many memories for me. As we make our way up from Jorabat, I remember the many occasions that my dad would drive us up and down this road in his much-loved Fiat.
We used to look forward to our holidays with anticipation. It was an excuse to come down from the hills to the plains. It was a time for meetings, for fun, for games and for catching up with our brood of 15 or more cousins who would all converge from different locations at our ancestral home in Guwahati.
The occasion would usually be the winter holidays, a wedding or a family function. For us, it didn’t matter. All we cared was an excuse to get together and create mayhem. The ancestral property, besides having a huge old house, also had a pond and a huge tree-filled garden, where we could play hide and seek all day and not find each other.
But I digress. Coming back to the Guwahati Shillong road. We would merely glance at Umiam lake in our earlier journeys, for it didn’t figure too highly in our scheme of things. We passed it regularly and it was just another lake.
This time around we stop to spend a couple of hours by the serene lake side. We watch the sun go down over the glowing waters, the whole lake taking on a magical hue, and providing a sight for our sore eyes.
Surrounded nearly on all sides by mountains, the waters shine with unspoken promises as we walk down the slope towards the water’s edge. An adventurous twosome decide to drive straight into the lake down the cemented pathway (this apparently is not allowed but they don’t seem too concerned about rules!). The occupants emerge and diligently wash the car from all sides.
Slowly, the sun turns into an orange golden ball, its reflection echoing in the still waters of the lake. In the distant horizon, a lone boatman steers himself bravely across the waters. I sit and watch as I feel a strange kind of sadness envelop me. The memories of more than twenty years gone by… Where did they go? How did they go so quickly? A lot of water has flown under the bridge since then and sometimes it’s just better to let it be…
With darkness descending quickly, and the sun threatening to disappear completely behind the hills, a comforting sense of peace and quiet settles on the shores.
Soon enough (for the sun sets early in the east!) the darkness covers us all in its thick veil – the cue for us to say goodbye. The water is surprisingly clear and warm as I dip my feet in for a feel. I try and absorb some of the calm into myself : wishing it was as easy as thatâ€¦
We tear ourselves from the shores, and I bid a silent adieu as we walk away from the peaceful waters. Back on the road to Shillong.
Shillong (capital of Meghalaya) is 100 kms from Guwahati. The half-way halt is Nongpoh, where you can have tea and snacks at a couple of Marwari restaurants there. Don’t forget to check out the array of pickles that the local women sell there. They’re good! Around 15 kms before you reach Shillong is the Umiam Lake. You can stop at the Orchid Lake Resort or drive a little further to the view point from where you can literally walk into the lake.