Sometimes you wake up at 5:00 AM and start walking through the pouring rain … and really start to question why you keep doing this. Then you get on the painfully slow, narrow gauge train that supposedly has such wonderful views only to realize you won’t see anything due to this wonderful rain that has now soaked you through to the core. And all the while, we’re trying to cope with a sensation we haven’t felt in a long time – cold.
But then the train starts. It chugs along, winding uphill steadily. We dip in and out of the clouds as the rain comes in spurts. The views, while not vast, envelop hills in various shades of cloudy grey. We get a hot cup of tea to warm us up, and we sit back and enjoy the show.
The train chugs in two hours late and we trudge to a hotel, though mercifully, the rain has stopped. The clouds slowly diminsh as the day wears on, until we are rewarded for our early morning efforts with a gorgeous sunset.
We have landed in Shimla, the famous hill station and seat of the British Raj every summer. More rewards await us the next morning. We awaken to crystal clear skies and a view of all the hills surrounding us and stretching all the way across to the Himalayan range.
Thrilled with the prospect of our first good weather day in India, we decide to go for a walk the tourism office recommended. It turned out to be a bit more challenging and less clear than a “walk,” but it was the kind of day I really like. The terrain was varied, we wandered downhill through wooded forests in the “glen” before winding back up hill through local villages on a trail that led to a beautiful waterfall before returning to the British opulance of the Viceregal Lodge, the former summer home of the Viceroy of India and a classic British building that looked like something out of Harry Potter.
The people were wonderful, we said a few namastes and hellos, posed for a few pictures and shared a whole lot of smiles. And the weather was perfect. So we got our answer … days like this are why we keep doing this.