The next moment I recollect is when we were standing next to the
old Dehradun bus terminus waiting for a bus to the queen of
hills. Just outside the terminus, a couple water vending carts or
what we call in India as the "Redi" were selling water at one
tenth of the cost of what I paid inside Café Coffee Day. The very
reasons why I have never come to appreciate the modernity of it…
paying for ambience rather than taste or utility.
To our right was a taxi stand that was seeing some activity. A
group of taxi drivers were buzzing around a honeymoon couple,
which seemed too lost to bargain. The husband got a bit irritated
and increasingly possessive of his nubile wife. It seems the way
the taxi drivers were looking at his wife during the bargain
ticked him off.
He chose a feeble looking driver, agreed to pay him the price he
asked for and quickly got into an Ambassador. For those who are
not initiated into what an Ambassador or Ambi is, I would like to
say that it was the only car that found itself running in India
for nearly two decades, before Fiat ventured into India passenger
Enough of automotive history! With the honeymooners off, the
remaining drivers turn to their next catch - 'us'. They do this
with vulture-like precision and purpose. But I was too old a hand
at travelling from Dehradun to Mussoorie that conning me was not
a good cup of tea they would have cherished.
They approached us… before they could say anything… I put myself
on their face and uttered "two seats in a shared taxi to
Mussoorie". Hearing this, the drivers kind of backed off, until
one taxi driver who was looking for passengers on a per seat
basis came forth.
He asked hundred and twenty per seat, I said hundred. He agreed.
Both Shruti and I were now comfortably seated at the back seat of
the Ambi. Before I push the story ahead, I need to share with my
readers the king-like feeling of sitting at the back seat of this
royal vehicle. You instantly feel like the pompous maharajas of
Well our comfort was soon ruffled with three more passengers
thrusting themselves into the vehicle. We were now five plus the
driver and mind you we were not in a SUV.
Shruti was sitting on the back right window seat, behind the
driver's seat. I was next to her, with two other beautiful
looking girls to my right. In India you maintain a safe distance
with strangers, especially if they are girls. So out of moral
compulsion I was forced to force fit myself into half the space I
usually take. But invariably my arm was rubbing against Shruti's.
We both did not realize it until the first hair bin bend up the
hill, when I was thrust by centrifugal force to squeeze Shruti to
the window, it was a good three to four second and both her eyes
met and were locked. We felt difficult to not get aroused. I
could say this with reasonable amount of confidence about her
reaction as her face was flushed with gushing blood. She was
blushing and had turned pink and still kept the stare on after
the bend was through.
For rest of the journey up we didn't speak a word with each
other. We were just too close for any words. The girls to my
right were a good four inches away… and Shruti and I were almost
on each other.
It slowly started to get colder, with each swirl up the mountain
the temperature dipped. I could sense that it was raining up
there in Mussoorie.
Suddenly the mist started to shroud the road ahead… and we could
barely see until a few feet ahead. It was now murky and in that
moment our lips were close… very close that they touched each
other and we knew it could have been a legitimate kiss if we
chose to acknowledge it. We both perhaps hesitated. But as
compensation, we both held hands.
Bends came and we climbed into the murky and ghastly arms of the
Mussoorie, the witch of hills.