A chanced meeting with Mr. Bond, in Landour

It was an anxious day and I could feel the pressure of spending yet another weekend alone in my little apartment in South Delhi weighing me down. I had moved to Delhi for a year and had practically no friends apart from my colleagues. It was a long weekend and Friday was a public holiday. I was unable to get my mind off this thought of three long days ahead with no agenda or to do things in Delhi. My mind kept meandering and I wanted to take off. But where do I go was undecided. I thought through the options and then went up to a collauge who hails from Dehradun, I walked into her cabin and asked her if she could suggest a few places, not too far awar within 6–7 hours travel time and safe.

She instantly said, why don’t you travel with me tonight, I am going home. Come with me and then take off to the hills and come back with me on Sunday night. This was a super generous and tempting offer. Quickly she also gave me the options to choose between three small towns in the hills and it took me a second to decide I want to go to Landour.

The next steps were easy too, I had to book myself in the same bus as her and also find a place to stay in Lnadour. Book were done fairly quickly. And next morning after a smoot bus ride, we landed in Dehradun around 4am. She was a local and it was easy for us to just jump on a auto and get to her home in twenty mintues. Upon reaching home, we both crashed for a few hours and then had a simple yet delicious breakfast made by her mother. I am so graeteful to them for their warmth. Getting off a bus at 4am is not the ideal situation for a girl travelling alone. Thanks to my friend that worry was out of the way. And then she also organized for a cab to take me to the hills, to the city of Massurie, Landour is few kilometers from Massurie. My friend and her cousin also accompanied me till Massurie and then they travelled back in the sam cab. The cab takes roughly about an hour to get to Lnadour.

I walked my way up to Landour and checked into this beautiful little hotel called Doma’s Inn(Run by a tibetian couple). I rested a bit and then stepped out and walked further up.

Landour is a small cantonment town and it still has that colonial feel to it. I was told right next to my hotel was the house of the lendary writer Ruskin Bond. I also knew that he visits the Campaidge Book Depot every Saturday to sign books. But off late he has not been very regular, I was hoping against hope.

This was the month of August and as the eevning fell, it started drizzling a bit and got misty. I walked back to the hotel and had a hot meal at teh inhouse Tibetian restaurant and went straight to bed as I had barely slept on the bus the previous night.

Next morning, I woke up hopeful and only agenda was to walk to the bookstore and meet the man. I spent an hour or so sitting down looking at the hills at a distance and cherishing my breakfast and few cups of hot ginger then. Then it was time to climb down to the town and find out if it was going to be my lucky day. There were a few hovering clouds but no rains when I left Landour but when I finally reached the bookstore after a half hour walk teh skies opened up and started raining heavily. It was 1pm or so. I was told Mr. Bond comes around 3pm. But the owner of the bookstore, who drives Mr. Bond every week himself was skeptical. He mentioned in passing that if the rains do not subside soon, there is slim chance that he would come. In an hour or so in teh bookstore, people started pouring in waiting in the rain to just get a glimpse of the man and get their booked signed. We were all hoping for the same thing and none of us complained about almost getting drenched in the rain or waiting for hours together.

Finally the owner of the bookstore took off and finally admist the rain came back with Mr. Bond in fifteen mins, we were all super thrilled. I wanted to enter his mind and imagination but for now I had to just settle for a picture with him, while he signed my books.

This trip like many other trips I take was absoultely random, without a plan but it turned out to be one of the best. Meeting an author you cherish reading is a joy that cannot be explained in words. And over all Landour was a peaceful and perfect place to explore on foot and solo.

Two days are enough for you to just go aound the place and chill but if like Mr. Bond you have aspirations of writing stories and books, you can spend months and years together in this quaint hill station.

Some tips:

Doma’s Inn is a good budget place to stay, it is centrally located and has great Tibetian food and view.

Walk up to Landour Bakehoue

If you want a luxury stay, try Rockby Manor, or visit their restaurant, has great food.

If you are in Landour on a Saturday and if you get lucky like me go to Cambridge Book Depot between 3–5pm

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Dola Samanta

Dola Samanta

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Brand Storyteller, Traveller (not the new age kind), Poet, Wine & Food & Cultures. Live.Love.Laugh!