When I was growing up in India, the Himalayas were my favourite holiday spot. One can say that my love for travel emerged out of my trekking trips to Manali, family holidays to Shimla and relaxing retreats in Nainital.
So, when my friend Cat came to India, I wanted to relive my tween memories by taking her to at least one of the “hill stations” in the Himalayas. Mostly because of proximity to Punjab, we chose Shimla, the Queen of Hills.
What I didn’t take into consideration during the trip-planning was that in the middle of February, Shimla was going to be freezing. And oh boy, it was!
This is where I casually brag: I’m from Canada! What that really means is I have big scarves, thick socks, sturdy snow shoes and warm beanies to help me brave the bone-chilling cold. Even though Shimla was nowhere nearly as cold as Canada, India does lack the infrastructure to deal with snow. The Mall Road – Shimla’s primo tourist spot – was a skating rink during the evening and a slush pool in the morning after the sun came out. But, we didn’t let that get in our way – duh! We embraced the grey skies, winter winds and thick fog and enjoyed the beauty of this Himalayan tourist gem.
Completely frozen from the evening’s excursion, Cat and I were looking forward to sleeping in a cozy bed. But, we got back to our holiday home to find out that due to snow storms, a tree fell on a nearby electric wire, cutting part of our electricity. That meant that we had to choose between hot water or a powerful heat blower. We chose the former. So, we used a hair dryer to warm our extremities and tucked ourselves under three layers of blankets. Since we are total troopers, we dealt with it, but I can’t say it was the most relaxing sleep of our lives.
We woke up to a beautiful day: there wasn’t a single cloud in the sky and the sun was shinning warmly. Being out and about was actually warmer than being stuck in our cold room. So, we hurriedly showered (and by that I mean bathe using a tub-and-cup situation) and were back on The Mall in no time. As cheesy as it sounds, here’s the situation were greeted with: the sun was melting the snowAnd hoards of tourists were basking in the Himalayan sun We carried on exploring, walking, people-watching and occasionally stopped for photo opps. I am so glad that I was able to show Cat one of my favourite parts of India. And she was a champ to embrace it despite the unpleasant weather.