“On a perfect day in a perfect world, I would wake up to the sun peeking in to tiger-stripe my nest of white sheets and a pillow as soft and plump as a baby’s cheeks. And I would run up the stairs barefoot, to the terrace and be surrounded by a sea of trees interspersed with pretty houses, a riot of colors blooming on their front porches and an occasional rocking chair.
I would sip a steaming cup of coffee with only the birds on a red roof for company. And then be tempted by a long winding road disappearing around the corner in a pink bougainvillea bush.
The early hour will contrive to keep the people of the pretty houses under downy quilts in their warm beds while I would tie my shoelaces and quietly slip out of the house. I’ll meet a few children though, with cheeks as red as apples; and going downhill I’ll cross a girl, waiting and drumming impatient fingers on her satchel, and a minute later walk past a boy hurrying uphill, smiling to himself. I’ll run my fingers along ivy-lined stone walls and stand under a tree with the prettiest pink blossoms.
After an hour of meandering I will realize that I’m lost in this Ghibli-esque world of green hedges and winding roads and a narrow stairway will be the rescue; old steps would bypass the curves of the hill, and lead me through a tiny garden onto a familiar road.
A hearty breakfast later, I would walk into the city square that bristles with the young; school children in green and blue uniforms, tight huddles of college dudes sharing a smoke, and the petite girls swishing long black hair and wearing bright shoes-and spend few moments relieving my own schooldays. Sturdy legs will go uphill and downhill, as charming shops and boutiques beckoned. I’ll touch muslin and silk and slip my feet into a dozen shoes and read in bookstores; but will end up buying an orange notebook, a keychain of a doll with stringy hair and a pair of socks. I will not visit the waterfalls and the peak that the crowds throng. Instead I will eat a warm croissant in a tiny café and watch the rain trickle down a sloping green roof.
At noon I would go out of town along picturesque roads lined with pine trees; driving past a house with blue picket fence and people whose eyes crinkled delightfully with laughter. And I will literally live on the edge, looking down steep hillsides and looking up at cottony clouds. A sharp curve and a sacred forest will loom in the horizon.
And the pristine wilderness suffused with an eerie green light will be everything I’d ever imagined it to be. Trees will rise high like lithe black limbs, saplings will bloom with orange flowers, creepers will slither along mossy tree trunks, and I’ll sidestep delicate herbs and mushrooms as I walk on a floor of dried leaves that would crunch under my shoes.
I will jump over fallen tree trunks and a tangle of white roots; duck under thorny bushes and tackle precarious slopes. The sun will shine through a leafy canopy, and it will be a mellow sun. A tree will be shaped like a bulbous nose and ancient stone relics will bring in the mystery.
I might see something majestic tomorrow, but the absolute stillness of the forest will stay with me forever.
I would step out into a goliath green ground with lilliputian yellow flowers, like tiny suns. I would let the dew on the grass wet my feet as I look down the beautiful valley of farm fields and a gurgling brook.
At dusk I would return to town and finally join a crowd to watch the sunset, sitting on a hillock at an old golf course.
Dinner will be savored at a restaurant resplendent with colonial architecture, mahogany pillars and velvet cushions. And wicker chairs on the patio too.
On the way back, I will walk under a lamp post that will remind me of Narnia. In bed I will read Kipling as the a flirtatious breeze made the curtains dance. “
I would spend a day in Shillong.
(Mundane details: Stay at The White Orchid guesthouse in Upper Lachumiere and a morning walk in its picturesque surroundings; walking around in Laitumkhrah, eating street food, shopping; a trip to Mawphlang sacred grove, sunset at Polo Grounds, and dinner at Hotel Pinewood.)