the wonderful world of veena.

22 April 2013

30before30: veena's tour of the northeast, CanOfBliss style.

  1. Go bungee jumping.
  2. Go sky-diving.
  3. Spend one week on my own in solitude [preferably in Honey Valley], cut off from the world and from all of my electronic gadgets.
  4. Tour a vineyard.
  5. Complete my Master of Public Service degree.
  6. Run a half marathon.
  7. Explore a new part of India.
  8. Be vegetarian for one month.
  9. Go skinny-dipping.
  10. Learn to scuba dive.
  11. Complete my CanOfBliss initiation.
  12. See the Grand Canyon [I smell a US road trip in my future].
  13. Get a professional massage.
  14. Try 2 foods I've never tried before.
  15. Take a photography class.
  16. See the sun rise over the Himalayas.
  17. Attend NH7 Weekender in Pune.
  18. Take an online class because it interests me.
  19. Be an extra on a set in Bombay.
  20. Go parasailing.
  21. See a show on Broadway.
  22. CanOfBliss Reunion Tour.
  23. Finish the Wheel of Time series.
I have been wanting to visit northeast India for years, so when the opportunity arose for me to see the northeast AND get to see Tet, Sastri, and Wasi at the same time, I jumped at the chance. I've missed my CanOfBliss boys like mad over the last few years, and I couldn't pass up the chance to see 3 of them at the same time. Tet is from Shillong, Sastri has been there working with him since early December, and Wasi lives in Tezpur, so off I went to meet them all in Guwahati. I think at this point it might just be easiest to give you a day-by-day account of the trip, so here is your warning that this is going to be a ridiculously long post where I wax poetic about my boys and my life and all those other things in-between. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Wednesday, 13 March

[I've never seen the Bombay airport this empty, so I had to document it]

I arrived into the Guwahati airport at 7.20am, grabbed my bag, and took a taxi to Wasi's parents' place where I was greeted by a grinning Tet and Wasi. We proceeded to wake up Sastri and Tanya, Tet's girlfriend, and after having breakfast we hit the road for Kaziranga National Park.

After a 5-hour drive and a pit stop for lunch, we arrived at our home for the night, the Jupuri Ghar inside Kaziranga. It was a beautiful resort with cute little cottages where we slept. Being us, we found a nice spot to sit and drink and reminisce and catch up for a few hours prior to dinner.

[the drive into our resort]

[those are my boys]

Thursday, 14 March

After a 5am wake-up call with hot coffee and tea, we set off for our sunrise elephant safari. We saw some rhinos, almost got into a fight with one, and we even saw a few water buffaloes and deer. After breakfast we went for a jeep safari and managed to spot a tiger, which was pretty awesome.

[mama and baby rhino]

[with Sastri, Wasi, and Tanya after our elephant safari]

[our photographer for the safari]

[a view of Kaziranga]

[that's my boy]

After the safari we packed up and headed back to Guwahati where we spent the evening drinking and laughing.

[lunch on the way back to Guwahati. one is duck and one is pigeon, but I've forgotten which is which at this point...]

Friday, 15 March

We said our goodbyes to Wasi and caught a cab back to Shillong. After a brief stop at Tet's house to meet his parents, we left for his grandmother's farmhouse in Bhoi. It's a beautiful house on some land outside Shillong, and it was nice and peaceful and relaxing. We took advantage of her fancy television and watched The Blues Brothers with Tet's parents. I don't think that movie has ever been that clear before.

[getting dinner ready]

Saturday, 16 March

After a nice lie-in, we headed to another of Tet's family's hidden spots for a very cold but very refreshing swim. We spent the evening barbecuing chicken at his cousin's farmhouse, enjoying the company and the star-filled sky.

[Sas and Tanya]

[me and Tanya]

Sunday, 17 March

We took the scenic route back into Shillong and enjoyed the nice views into the city before taking advantage of a nice relaxing evening.

[Tet's grandmother's flowers]

[the view from New Shillong looking into the city]

Monday, 18 March

It was back on the road Monday morning for Tet, Tanya, Sastri, and me as we headed to Cherrapunji. Cherra is famous for once being the rainfall capital of the world and has any number of waterfalls to see and trails to trek along into beautiful, untouched places. On our first day in Cherra we walked to the Noh Ka Likai [you can see the picture below for the story behind the name] Falls before heading to our awesome resort. Once there, we roamed around, trying out the swingsets and see-saws and slides before building a bonfire and enjoying some nice conversation into the night.

[on the way to Cherra]

[super sad story. but then again, most of the falls are named after these kinds of stories]

[apparently during the rainy season this waterfall is out of control]

[walking back to the car]

[in case you can't read it, it says:
"even then, goodbye dear cherra,
and your rain goodbye.
I'm off to my home,
for my life is yonder,
though my love is here."]

[Sastri's and my home for our stay]

[beautiful sun]

[taking full advantage of the playground at our resort]

Tuesday, 19 March

We were up early again, this time to begin our trek to Nongriat village. Nongriat is this beautiful, untouched, serene village in Cherra. In order to reach it, you have to go down and up some 2,400 steps, across 3 wire bridges, and across 1 root bridge. It's an intense trek, but it's completely worth it. In Nongriat are 2 more living root bridges; these are bridges that are literally made from the roots of really old trees. Learning to make these bridges is a great art, and there is a man in his 80s who still trains the younger generations in how to do it. The village itself is completely cut off; the only way in or out is to take this journey. There are no roads, and there is no way to airlift anything in or out. It's a physical toll, but completing it is such a feeling of accomplishment. I would love to return and just hide out there for a few weeks, enjoying the scenery, swimming in the lagoons, and chatting with the elders in the village.

[and we're off!]

[only the beginning]

[gorgeous views along the way]

[watch your step]

[wire bridge. no big deal]

[through the woods]

[the first living root bridge]

[we made it to the village!]

[going across the double decker bridge]

[Tet and Tanya]

[double decker living root bridge]

[Tet made a friend]

[he was obsessed with the bay leaves, so we got him a whole bouquet]

[our swimming hole for the afternoon]

[I told Ellie Mann this is where we're going to grow old together. I can't wait]

[the journey back]

[almost back to the top!]

After a nice relaxing swim, we made our way back up to the car, headed back to the resort, and enjoyed nice hot showers. We spent the evening chilling with a few friends of Tet's who were there for some work and sat around the bonfire listening to them jam on their guitars. Trust me, I slept really well that night.

Wednesday, 20 March

[Sastri's sunrise pictures]

Back on the road and back to Shillong. Sastri crashed early, and Tet and I stayed up chatting and catching up and generally shooting the shit until about 3am. It was so nice to have some one-on-one time with my Tetris and to get to chat properly about what was happening in each of our lives. I love how we can go 3.5 years without seeing one another and still pick up as though it's only been a few months. It was great to hear about what he's been working on and what his plans are for his resort, and it was nice to have a new sounding board for all the thoughts in my head. I don't think his mother was too amused with our late night, but I'm thankful for it.

Thursday, 21 March

We all slept in and enjoyed a mostly relaxing day. In the late afternoon we [Tet, Tanya, Sastri, myself, and Tet's sister Lamer] went to the Don Bosco Centre for Indigenous Cultures in Shillong. It's a museum dedicated to the tribes of the northeast, and you can wander through the floors and learn about the history and traditions of the tribes. It was really interesting - especially for a history nerd like myself - to get snapshots into the lives of the various tribes, especially since I spent most of my time in Assam and Meghalaya and didn't get a chance to visit any of the other Seven Sisters [the "Seven Sisters" are the 7 northeastern states of India: Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Tripura].

[the view from the Don Bosco skywalk]

Friday, 22 March

For my last day in Shillong Tet took us on a drive outside the city to see a palace that was built without using any nails. It was really interesting to see, and the drive was beautiful. Then we went out to a lounge-y place and had a drink before heading back to Tet's house. Manish met us there, and Tet's cousin Ronn was there as well, and we spent a fun evening drinking and chilling before gorging ourselves on an awesome Khasi dinner Tet's mum had made for us.

[the palace made with no nails]

Saturday, 23 March

Lamer made lunch for all of us before Manish and I headed to Guwahati for me to catch my flight. It was yummy, and I promised Lamer I would return to enjoy her cooking again soon. And then I was off, back to Bombay just in time to greet Tyler as he arrived from New York.


Overall I had a fantastic trip. It was just what I needed: some time away from the city and the stresses of Capstone and school work; some time with my CanOfBliss boys; a little flash of cold weather; rest, relaxation, and some solid exercise. I'm so glad it worked out for me to get up there to see Wasi, Tet, and Sastri, I'm thankful their schedules allowed for them to be free, and I'm so grateful that someone else organized all of our outings. It was nice to not have to be the one in charge of organizing and scheduling everything, and it was really nice to be pampered for a few days. When I would visit them in Manipal they wouldn't let me lift a finger to do anything, and it's nice to see they've not changed in that regard. We take care of each other, my boys and me, and it was so great to get to spend those 10 days with them.

If you ever find yourself heading up to the northeast, let me know and I will put you in touch with Tet. He's a fantastic tour guide, and if you tell him you know me, he'll take good care of you.

And to you, Tetris: I'll be back soon.

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