When we were younger, and my dad was still in the Air Force, weekends were for family walks. Well, almost the whole family, because the youngest one in our family was the only one brave enough to say no to my dad when he woke us up early in the morning. He'd curl back to sleep under the comfy blanket while Shereef and I grudgingly went with mom and dad for these walks.
We'd walk outside the campus, on the roadside. Skipping potholes and puddles. Running at times to catch up with dad, our little legs not long enough to match his strides. We'd walk more than 5 kms. Some times up to 9. Then we'd go to this 'restaurant' that operated from under a canopy of trees to gulp down soft idlis and blow at the piping hot coffee or badam milk till it reached non-scalding temperatures. Some days we'd treat ourselves to the bright yellow 'kesari baath', one of the most indulgent sweets you can find in India.
The return was by bus, because now we are tired and full. Sometimes we'd walk and then collapse right on the bed.
On other weekends we'd be freer, so we plan a trip outside the city. Sometimes just us, sometimes with other families. We would load our rickety old green van with food and sweaters. And off we'd go exploring. When we were in West Bengal, it was Darjeeling, Kurseong, Shillong, Gangtok, Kalimpong. These were beautiful hill stations, with winding roads and hair pin bends that made the heart race. Once we drove to 'Tsomgo' lake which is frozen for a huge part of the year. I still remember our glee at the prospoect of seeing snow for the first time. As we went up, snow roofed trucks would pass us on their way down and we'd get a little more excited.
Finally, I saw snow, so much of it that I ran out of the car to get my hands on it. And I fainted. Silly me didn't realize the affect of high altitude on the body. That happened the 2nd and 3rd time too, and I never learnt to control my excitement and stand bloody still.
The Air Force wives would sometimes go shopping to Nepal.
This was in 2001, before the Nepalese Royal Massacre, when the crown prince killed members of his own family. Borders were a bit more lax. So we'd go and shop for crystals and beautiful rugs and wall decor. I was thrilled to see that they have 'gold' coins. So much more fancy than the boring coins we had back in India. I asked mom to give me one coin for my 'collection' ( I didn't have any). I clutched on to it in our bus ride back, waiting to show it off to my brothers. But the rickety bus, slowly lumbering its way, lulled me into a sleep, made my palm open for a bit and the coin rolled out. I woke up with a jerk and had one my first childhood heart breaks as I found an empty palm with no golden coin in it. It was time to leave and I couldn't search between my co passengers feet for the run away coin.
This was a mini chronicle of my early childhood weekends.
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