April 4th and 5th 2017 : The cab kept going on and on in the dark taking turns on winding roads and making us sway to its rhythm. We mercilessly kept swaying to the sides as the engine kept roaring.
I couldn’t see a thing in the dark but I imagined us driving through some murky place far away from civilization, with huge trees on the sides on a never-ending path – a journey that just seemed to last forever.
I desperately wished that it was daylight then as I wanted to see which untouched part of Meghalaya we had reached. But It was pitch dark and I could see nothing but darkness and feel nothing but still air and quietness.
I tried to sleep in. But in vain. I wished that the cab would stop moving for sometime and let us breathe in peace. But then we had to reach soon. It was about 5 pm I remember, the last time I had checked the time as we drove through the beautiful Sohra roads amidst hills and waterfalls accompanied by nothing but calmness.
I prayed hard that there be electricity at Mawlynnong for we were drenched in rain for far too long and I had no more dry clothes to wear. Too much of rains and I wanted to wear some dry clothes for once. One of my friends had motion sickness and she started to feel ill soon.
I asked the driver “Bhaiya kitna time lagega pahunchne mein?”
“Translation : Brother, how long will it take to reach?”
To which we never got any proper response. He was a quiet man and spoke very little. The few times he spoke, he always seemed to murmur to himself.
I gave up questioning him. Finally after what seemed like forever, we reached a home-stay. Our driver went to inquire and after repeated phone calls and conversations with some locals in their local dialect, none of which we understood or could even figure out heads or tails, he came back to the car and a friendly elderly man said “sorry we are booked”.
Then on and on again he drove us through the dark path.
By this time, I had given up hopes of getting a room with electricity because I could see nothing but darkness. Thankfully after a little while, he made a right turn, got down from the car and went walking in the rain to inquire for a room availability for us three girls. We offered him our umbrella which he declined in no time.
Something in me told me he was a good man. The owner of the home-stay was stuck at a price of 2000 INR for the night. I had no energy left to bargain but one of my two friends still kept trying to make her agree for 1850. Our driver gave one last try and then voila she agreed.
The rain was pouring down heavily yet again and we checked into the first home-stay our driver from Sohra drove us to at Mawlynnong.
I remember giving him a hundred rupee extra for his kindness and efforts.
In all my travels, I’ve always made sure to pay any kind soul I meet a little more than they would initially charge me. It’s the only way I can repay for something that they have done for us? Isn’t it? It’s only fair isn’t it? After all, we waste a hundred bucks easily anywhere.
We unloaded all our backpacks, changed and put out all our clothes and travel essentials to dry in a separate room while we tried to sleep in our twin bedded huge room with an attached bathroom and toilet with hot water facility.
After a night’s stay at Byron’s in basic conditions, this felt like luxury. Plus there was electricity and we were thankful even though there was no sign of any kind of network signals in our phones.
I asked my friends if they were up for dinner but they seemed too tired out so I gave up asking and went out for a stroll to look for places nearby for food.
On inquiring the home-stay owner, she called out for her son immediately and ordered him to show me around to the nearest place where I could get some food for dinner.
The restaurant where i had dinner that night
I never ever skip meals even at places where it seems most unlikely to find food. 😛 I only have to try. And that’s so me.
After a few seconds, a tiny looking boy ran out barefooted from the living room with a pencil in his hand. He hastily grabbed an umbrella, put on his sandals and asked me to follow him. I looked at him with curiosity, half feeling guilty for disturbing him from his studies.
I kept following him for a two minute’s walk from the home-stay, and the entire time during the walk, I kept looking at his tiny stature holding the umbrella and walking briskly.
His name was Banphrang. And I was taken aback when he told me he was in the 6th Standard. I saw him as a boy in the 1st or second standard of school.
When asked if I had disturbed him, his reply was simple. He said he was doing his homework but didn’t mind showing me around as he liked showing his village to the tourists. “Even when it was raining?” I added, asking him again. He nodded with a smile. The warmth in that smile left me speechless.
When we reached the place, he called out to a group of girls in what looked like a very homely wooden kitchen.
A girl with a dark complexion but probbaly the sweetest smile I came across there in the village, attended to my orders and asked me to wait at a place where they had put out some tables and chairs, I presumed that was the restaurant. Her name was Mary.
The little boy and I then walked back to our home-stay together. I thanked the little boy, bade him goodnight and after 20 minutes, walked back to the restaurant to find a delicious non vegetarian meal served out for me on the table. It was a satisfying meal and I even ordered the bowl of chicken twice. I was that hungry.
It reminded me of the food my room-mate,Clarissa from Shillong, used to cook when we used to stay together in Chennai.
When asked to pack for my other friends, they asked me to carry the whole set of tray with dal, aloo ki sabzi and tomato chutney with rice, properly served with serving spoons and garnish with a lid to cover each of the utensils.
After reading the expression on my face, Mary smiled and said “you could return the utensils tomorrow morning. We don’t parcel or use any disposable stuffs to pack for any of our customer’s orders. We don’t parcel at all but we’ll make an exception for you.” I was touched, one of the reasons I didn’t want to throw that food away the next morning even when my friends didn’t have the meal that night.
I paid her the bills and took the tray with me and went back to my home-stay all full and happy and with memories from Nongriat Village, the previous night and moments from the roads in Sohra, I fell into a peaceful slumber, awakened only by daylight the next morning.
The next morning, I returned back the utensils to Mary after sharing the meal from the previous night with one of my friends.
I also followed some kids on their way to school and ended up exploring a part of the next village called Umniah Tmar, where I had some more conversations and shared some laughter moments with those kids going to school.
I quite loved the feeling of having the whole field to myself that morning as I found that there were quite a lot of tourists in Mawlynnong.
I love spending some time alone exploring places and capturing moments in my camera anytime i travel with people. Travelling with me may not be everyone’s cup of tea but I’m glad to have had company in most of my travels who understood this about me.
After spending the whole morning walking up and down the clean pathways through the village and snapping tons of pictures, we left for Dwaki a little too late by lunch time.
I loved every bit of my stay in Mawlynnong but being an adventure seeking person, it was nothing compared to my previous night’s stay at Byron’s in the tucked away Nongriat village.
More on Mawlynnong on it’s ever increasing tourist population, a few bad bad decisions in the trip, the miscalculations, and my heavenly experience in Nongriat Village and a few useful tips for travelers making their way to Meghalaya in my future posts.