The First Flush
Warm sunshine breaking through the mist and the gentle cool breeze under the long pine shadows during the receding winters is too pleasant for her not to wander into a deep slumber, as I climb up the stairs to put her to bed. Siesta time here in Goomtee Tea Resort. Matter of moments before she wakes up and we head outdoors once again – to walk through the plantation. In the evening local boys of Goomtee United Sports Club will come for practice in the football ground beneath the bungalow and we shall be animated spectators. Nandana loves to watch others play, bending over wishing to run with ball right down the flank. That day shall soon come, I shall live my childhood all over again.
Here in Goomtee the vintage bungalow is charming. Austere colonial grandeur of wood & whites through the long corridor of silence springs to life in its beautiful camellia plants, distant factory hour bells, wild flower blossoms on the hill slopes and the smiling faces of humble lives. Coming back to these mountains always feels like return to innocence.
This time around we are a curious bunch of travellers… Mama bear, papa bear aside; tigre, zeebru, giraaf, ele, kachhua, tasha and little Nandana 7 months and toddling on her first holiday to district Darjeeling!
The room opens onto a picturesque garden and has a panoramic view of the tea estate, tall pine trees and mountains in the distance… far enough from the dust and din, near enough to hear the whistle and chug of the train nearing Mahanadi station… the iconic Himalayan Mountain Railways. Days can be just so packed here stepping out to the balcony, warming up to the fireplace in the living room, softly playing the xylophone in the dining hall, reading about the origin of tea and challenges of Himalayan expeditions in the library or just wishing for a partner to play a few games of table tennis.
This time around the lenses had to stay back. They made space for the electrical sterilizer. The binocular didn’t even ask why it isn’t coming. Instead came a pressure cooker. The camera battery charger forgotten but not the feeding pillow. Additional memory cards were replaced by zip lock pouches of chal, dal and tamatar. Instead of the tripod, a tall folding mosquito net tied to the back pack. Only one Dickens could come tucked beneath the diapers. Just a few pages in these three four days yet we feel we have turned over a new leaf. We go… back home with ‘Great Expectations’… that we shall be as we used to be… often travellers. Probably not as light as we were but certainly more curious.
She is awake! She is alive to the sights and sounds of nature.