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 car segment.
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 Raj era.
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
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.
© Copyright 2016 Balaji Iyer. All rights reserved.