Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Feasting at Shanti Kunj

I write this from the crisp coolness of Mussoorie.  The smell of hot wada and coffee is swirling over to Dad's office where I sit typing this in - telling me that another day of bliss in Shanti Kunj is about to begin.

This is only our third day here but we have already had enough experiences of joy to last for a goodly while.

You barely get through the gate of Shanti Kunj and already the world is a different place.  To start with there are the newest additions to Mum's flowers:

The hugs of Mum and Dad give way to a thanksgiving prayer.  Both the hugs and the blessings of the prayers continue to weave their ways in and out of these days of joy together.  Each annual pilgrimmage to Mussoorie is special - and we are joined this year by our dear friends John and Nalini and their lovely kids Nikita and Jasper.

It's wonderful to experience Mussoorie with the fresh eyes of our closest friends from Mumbai town.

When we moved to the Mumbai suburb of Borivali in 2001 we met John and Nalini and their lovely daughters.  Though we moved on to Thane 11 months later, this family has been woven together with ours over the past decade. What a dream come true to all be together for a few days with Mum and Dad.

And so here are a few shots - mainly of the meals - in the first 2.5 days of our time here to give you a foretaste of heaven (and to remind us when we descend back down to Thane town).

What better way to be welcomed to Shanti Kunj than a lovely breakfast! 

We could barely believe just how quiet everything here is.  The only sounds punctuating the stillness are the rustle of the breeze in the oak trees outside, the contented scrape of another happy eater shoveling scrambled eggs on toast, and the cheery chatter of everyone giving the oohs and aahs of looking out at the mountains.

A lunch of rajma and dal and rice followed at what seemed an impossibly short period afterwards.   The afternoon had us walking around the 'chakkar' to get our feet acclimatized to the hills - and of course an obligatory stop for pakoras at Anil's tea shop in Char Dukhan.

Supper?  Well count on our Oma to make it special.  She has made a time-table to plan for all the meals of our stay with them with Germanic precision - and steeped it all with love.  On this first night - to our delight we were served an amazing meal of lasagne and had it topped off with vanilla ice cream and home-made strawberry preserves.

A night. Sleep that starts to erode at the huge tiredness that hangs on our bones.  And then the bright morning sun of a Mussoorie day.  It's time for breakfast in Shanti Kunj.

And what better way to start the day than with a round of pancakes?  Make that multiple rounds.  Dad manned the electric skillet which has been nursed on its last legs (one broke off long ago) - and which is an inheritance from his missionary parents to us!

 Lunch?  We love Shanti Kunj - but we also love the out-doors.  The acres and acres of mixed oak and conifer forests that cover the hillside beckon us to leave Shanti Kunj and take to the trails outside.  And so we have a bunch of happy hikers tucking into parathas and alu bhaji at Fairy Glen!

By the time we get back, the golden sun is slanting into Shanti Kunj.  Its just the time for a glass of iced-tea for a happy set of weary legs (we are from the plains after all and beauty does not immediately translate into strength).  Its time for a chat on the porch - and for Oma to have a small swing!

And so the happy spiral of love and food and food mixed with love continues.  Each meal an opportunity to thank God for His goodness.  Another celebration of being together after being away for so long.  Another time to ooh and aah at what is set before us.  Or what our eyes see outside the windows.

Mum and Dad's table is a place where many are blessed.  The fare is usually not as eleborate as we are feasting on over these days - we are the recipients of such concentrated love that we are almost breathless - but in each meal the key ingredient served is love.

In years to come - we may forget many a thing - but the feasts that we enjoyed together will linger.

Bon apetit! Prost Mahlzeit!  Dig in!


  1. Wonderful times!
    Hug your mom and dad for me.

  2. I look forward to your Mussorie stories. What a lovely memory for Asha and Enoch to carry with them through life!!

  3. Andi what a rich and loving experience with your family. We can't wait to meet your parents in a few weeks!