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Published: June 15th 2016
My cousin Priscilla and I are travelers and before completion of any trip we would start planning for our next trip. Don't be surprise when I say we have already planned our next upcoming trips. Being from North Eastern part of India we have underestimated the beauty of North East India. But this time after exploring many parts of Northern and Southern India, we wanted to visit North East, not as visiting home but as travelers. Considering the limited time we had, we planned to travel Meghalaya and Manipur, covering some portion of Assam.
I had traveled to Assam quite many times and Manipur is my home state. But I had never been to Meghalaya. It was my first visit. I never thought it would turn out to be so awesome. Since Priscilla is half Manipuri and half Khasi (People of Meghalaya), for her it was not less than going home. She was meeting her Khasi relatives after 13 years. After traveling for around 4 hours from Guwahati we reached Shillong at 3pm. Priscilla's maternal cousin Maan came to pick us. We reached her maternal Uncle’s place in no time. Maan's Mom welcomed us with love and warmth. I was already in love with the beautiful house beside the hills. The wooden flooring and wooden furnitures made the house more classy. For a moment I wondered Man, am I in Scotland?
. Aunty told us to freshen up and have food. It was a temperature shock for us from 44 degree in Delhi to 22 degree in Shillong. We were served yummy Khasi food. After food she offered us Kwai
(commonly known as Paan - Betel leaf with Areca nut). Khasi people have a tradition of offering Kwai to guests as a token of love and affection. There is a very touching folk tale in connection with this custom. Perhaps I will tell you about this story some other day.
In the evening we went to nearby places to meet Priscilla's relatives. Walking on the hilly roads, sensing the fragrance of wild flowers and drizzles in between, it was a unique and beautiful first time experience. I met another bunch of sweet people who offered us Kwai. Most of the houses in Shillong are wooden floored, stuffed with wooden crafts and antiques. No wonder Shillong is called Scotland of the East
. We went back to Priscilla’s Uncle’s place to meet yet another bunch of family members including Priscilla’s Uncle, his sons, daughters and grandchildren. Everyone was so sweet, I did not feel out of place at all. A partial thanks went to Priscilla for not knowing Khasi language, so the common language for all was English. But the best out of the entire gang was Priscilla's Uncle whom I called Shillong Uncle
, a very knowledged and humorous person. Seeing the huge crowd I wondered OMG! Such a huge family
. Later I got to know that all the married kids lived separately with their respective families. It was only Uncle, Aunty, another Aunty (Aunty’s sister) and two unmarried kids – Pastor and Kiki who lived in that house. Pastor is uncle’s youngest son who is a Pastor. Sorry, I call him Pastor as I don’t remember his name. Kiki is the youngest daughter, a sweet and smart girl, an engineer by profession.
Next day morning, Priscilla, Kiki and I went up the hills, did all the funniest and craziest stuff we could do from climbing the hills, going inside some unknown houses covered with beautiful gardens to climbing trees, walls, gates etc. We befriended a cute dog also. We came back home just to see both Aunties waiting to feed us yummy Khasi food. I said to myself Nirmala, This is called a Perfect Holiday
. Since it was Sunday, Uncle, Aunties and Pastor were dressed up in proper formal dress to visit the Church. We could not go with them as we had some other plans for the day. I wanted to take a group picture with them but we were late. Shillong like any other hill-station, is a place you should walk, walk and walk to explore the place. Driving is a bad idea as you will get stuck in jam. We were three fun loving girls who had no problem walking miles. We enjoyed walking and talking.
We first visited the Shillong Catholic Cathedral which was as beautiful as the Cathedrals in Scotland. I saw a cute girl in white gown as if she was wearing her wedding gown. That was for her Baptism. Her Mom in a floral Khasi dress was fixing her hair. I enjoyed the view thoroughly. We took lots of pictures and left the place to head to Ward's lake. At Ward's lake we were greeted by cute Khasi girls in their traditional attire. We had some yummy pastries and coffee at the cafeteria near the lake. Shillong is famous for confectionery and backery items. I heard that they got the secret recipes from the British. But the best were the home food cooked by Aunties.
3rd day we planned a bus trip to some prominent places in Meghalaya including Cherapunjee - heaviest rainfall place in the world which is famous for 7 Sisters Waterfalls. We also visited the 6th highest waterfall in the world - Nohkalikai Falls
. There is a touching story behind the name Nohkalikai Falls, I will tell about it some other day. They all were breathtaking views. At times I felt I was in Switzerland, some other time I felt I was in South Africa. I am not kidding. We also felt like part of Indiana Jones movie on visiting the Mawsmai Cave
which was thrilling with passage as narrow as less than 2 feet. Not to miss the crazy funny stuff done by us. Priscilla was the Stuntwoman, expert in reaching the spots unreachable. I was expert in getting into strangers' houses. Kiki was our very talented professional photographer.
4th day was the best day. 5 of us including Priscilla, Kiki, Maan and Mang (Kiki's friend) started early morning. After just 40 minutes drive from Shillong we could see heaven on earth. I am not exaggerating. Beautiful white cloud was traveling with us aside. Shining green hills, shining wet roads and the white clouds which looked like cotton bundles made the view out of the world. When we started driving in the interiors of the hills and jungles, we came across beautiful waterfalls in every kilometer we drove. Each waterfall was unique, different from each other. Some were narrow, falling from very high hills, others were short falls but heavy and massive. Some falls were so powerful, we thoroughly enjoyed the drizzles from the falls.
The best part of our 4th day journey was visiting the cleanest village in Asia. It should be called the cleanest village in the world. You will also say the same if you visit this village. I was totally in love with the place and the people living there. I will cover a separate story on this village very soon. We also visited the Living Root Bridge, a nature's created bridge with the roots of living tree. The last spot of the day was Dawki lake which is at the Bangladesh border. Dawki lake is famous for its crystal clear water which you can see through. Funniest thing is the border between India and Bangladesh is just a water line or partition in the lake. I don't know if it was a man-made or nature created partition. We went on a boat ride to enjoy the massive beauty of the lake and the surroundings. Another time when I felt We are not in India
. I asked myself Am in Krabi, Thailand?.
Some other time I said to myself No way. This looks like Bali, Indonesia.
It was all about visiting Meghalaya but I experienced Scotland, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand and Indonesia. Please don't believe me, see it yourself. Seeing is believing. Experience it yourself. But more than all these, what I cherished the most is the love and hospitality shown by Shillong Uncle and his entire family. We reached home late. Everyone was waiting for us to enjoy a lavish dinner together for the last time. Both Aunties had packed Shillong special food items for me and Priscilla to take home. It was already 11pm and we had to leave at 5am next day for the airport. I said I wanted to take a group photo of you all in Khasi formal attire but I guess we will do it next time
. Let's just take a simple group photo.
On this Uncle replied Why next time? We will do it now
. Everyone was so enthusiastic, they all dressed up in no time. Uncle and Aunties insisted me also to wear Khasi dress. I said Okie
. Happiness is meeting amazing people. Shillong Uncle's family is a bunch of simple and happy people who are simply amazing. I had no words to express for everything they did to me. Just one word Khublei
(Thank You in Khasi language) was not at all enough. But at that moment, I only had Khublei
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