By Jamie Alter
We are back in Landour. Briefly, because work, our son Cayden’s online classes and other commitments require us back in the plains soon, but yes, we are back in Landour. Back home.
After a brief hiccup – a flat tire discovered at 5 a.m. while loading the car – we left Noida and reached Landour in the afternoon, to welcome drizzle and refreshing greenery. Thankfully, the roads have improved from Noida to Dehradun, and what used to be a struggle ended up being a breeze. Just as we hit the outskirts of Dehradun, a strong cloudburst broke and I maneuvered our car through sheets of heavy rain until we touched Rajpur, whereupon the rain disappeared but it remained, thankfully, overcast and grey as we wound our way up to Mussoorie.
As the bends weaved closer to the town, familiar corners and sightings warmed the heart. Yes, it has only been ten months since our last visit to Mussoorie, but the tumultuous upheaval of the COVID-19 pandemic has changed many perceptions. Driving up from Dehradun, the feeling of being so fortunate to have a place to call home in Landour really set in.
As the car lurched its way up from the New Road to Tehri Road, taking that sharp bend under where the Kapadias lived for many decades, and the first glimpse of Woodstock became visible through a canopy of green, the satisfaction increased. Then, passing the school and then Cozy Corner – the original ‘Maggi Point’ in these parts – and the Landour Community Hospital shots, where, of course, a brief jam caused by a supply truck left unattended by its driver made us chuckle, and then revving the engine at the steep incline from the top of Mullingar Hill, the sensation kicked in. Home was near, and this beloved familiar terrain was splendid to behold.
Up past Doma’s, then Char Dukan, Kellogg Church, Sister’s Bazaar, the ITM and finally the descent down towards our family estate. The sight of the gate, of red tin roofs we dream of in our sleep back in the city, of the tennis court, of familiar faces and genuine salaams and the barking of dogs and so much more.
This is a trip my wife and I had discussed for months during the lockdown. Our son had asked many times when we were returning to Mussoorie for a vacation. Friends living in Landour messaged many times wondering why we were not back yet, as the situation improved. Finally, given a brief window between work and projects, we said ‘chalo’ and here we are.
It won’t be for long, but we will cherish every moment. As I type this, there is a soft pitter-patter on the sunroof overhead, a warm mug of coffee and two slices of warm buttered toast offer me welcome company, and the joyful voice of Cayden discovering an earthworm or centipede or ladybug outside in the wet grass wafts through the screen door. No white noise, no honking of cars, no doorbells, no deliveries, no phone calls and no mobile service.
Bliss. It’s good to be back home.
(Jamie Alter is a sports writer, journalist, author and actor).