Welcome to the place where you always wanted to be. A whole year of yearning finally bears fruit in our annual pilgrimmage up to Shanti Kunj in Mussoorie.
This year the 5 cousins really had a blast. And so did we along with them!
After a wonderful 2 days in Herbertpur with Dr. Cherring and the gang, we drove up to Mussoorie. There is something magical for me as we drive up from Dehra Dun, with each turn it gets cooler, you start to see the familiar sights - and sadly also see unfamiliar hoardings and hotels that continue to infest the place. But most of all your lungs fill with the beautiful scented air of Mussoorie!
Enoch had already had a great day of playing cricket in Herbertpur so he dozed off on the way up...
And once we are in that amazing place called Shanti Kunj - what is there not to do?
You can sleep in late and then read high quality books - like the lovingly curated Tintin collection that Mum and Dad keep for children of all ages (I reread Red Rackham's treasure this time).
You can play all variety of games out side in the newly paved badminton / basketball / baseball court!
Since one of our youngsters managed to break the cricket bat - we migrated to a new sport - good ole fashion baseball - we seem to have some equipment dating back from our childhood visits to Kodaikanal and this was brought out to the delight of the current generation of young Eichers.
For the first two days of our time in Mussoorie - while Stefan, Neeru, Ashish and Anjali were with us - we had a riot of games in front of Shanti Kunj. Given the small field - home-runs were the order of the day with much scurrying between bases.
Alas on the eve of the second day I felt my back 'go' during a game of basketball - and then I was supine for 3 days in some agony - but that is another story as Aslan would say - we are focussing here on the joys of our kids in Mussoorie wonderland.
The kids games were cheered on by their loving Opa (who was also recovering from a small accident involving a cycle rickshaw turning over on him - but that is also a different story).
And when you are hungry... there is always time for a late afternoon tea complete with Oma's super-tasty cheese cake (which she slaved to get ready for us - preparing for our visit like a field-marshal).
And when the rowdy games outside are too much, then there are always more things to do indoors at Shanti Kunj.
Oma makes sure that there are various boxes of toys around.
Should the plethora of toys tire you - well, then there are always helpful cousins who are happy to read to you!
As much as the insides of Shanti Kunj are warm and cosy - we all have to agree that the real glory of Mussoorie is the outdoors. The amazing stillness with the wind just rustling through the oak and deodar trees. The solemn langurs that you come across every now and then - majestically moving through the mist. The goodness of earth and the cobalt blue sky above. The nip in the air as the even comes on - and the lights start to appear in the blue hills beyond and below.
We did not do as much hiking as we would have wanted to (given my being invalided for most of the time). But we did get to go out on some walks at least.
The first one was the traditional 'Chukkar' around the top of the hill at Landour.
Enoch is at an age where he *loves* being in front of the pack.
Some of the hikers were given special lifts up the hill.
By the time we came to Lal Tibba, the sun was just golden.
As were our girls!
And what better way to end off a mini-hike, than plopping down at Char Dukhan for some hot potato pakoras (from our dear old friend Anil) - with a chaser of onion pakoras to follow!
Its a wonderful life.