( Photos are from our drive from Gurgaon to Ranikhet. )
August 26th, 2017
My ears are ringing even after two hours of having reached Ranikhet. It isn’t the first time this is happening. Happens each year we visit and we visit every year ( atleast since 2012, we have been to Ranikhet each year – this, in 2017, is our sixth trip ). Nonetheless, the ear ringing is a welcome surprise. Always amazing to me that the human mind, body and spirit get acclimatized to almost anything. And quickly. The noise in our cities if ever present and comes from everywhere. Slamming doors at the next door neighbors. The clanging of dropped utensils from the upstairs neighbors. The squealing and wailing of children and infants. The incessant and loud vehicular traffic and horns from the street below. Loud television from the partially deaf and very old neighbors. Airplanes overhead. People talking. Fighting.
Here, in Ranikhet? We’re accommodated in quarters overlooking one of the busiest ( traffic-wise ) streets in town. Apart from a vehicle passing by every few minutes ( depending on what time of day it is ), I can hear the scratch of my pen on paper. Raindrops bouncing off of the roof. My breathing. Ears ringing. A conversation between two people about half a kilometer away. A bird. And not much else. There is no mobile phone network here.The television has been unplugged. Had it not been raining, my ears would have been ringing even more. There would also be the sound of Pine and Deodar trees rustling and swaying in the wind. I can’t imagine how quiet this place must have been, almost forty years ago in 1978, when my parents were married and moved in together in Ranikhet. From whatever stories I’ve heard,in those days, if the Army Mess had a Regimental Band playing music, they could be heard for miles. Based on the sounds one heard, one could have a pretty good, general idea of what the cantonment was up to. The wind blowing through pine trees is one of my favorite sounds here. It is a mild, elongated WHOOSH sound. Similar to the sound of rubber tyres being driven on a road but gentler, milder. Depending on the flow of the wind, the sound can also feel like the trees are having a conversation. I don’t understand their language but I know that they are talking.
Monkeys pounding paws on the wooden or asbestos roof is another Ranikhet sound. Usually when they’re passing through, foraging for food, in the mornings or evenings. Sometimes, they might forage for food right from your room – if you leave the door open by mistake. Or the refrigerator even. They’ll close the door of the refrigerator for good measure, so that you don’t find out about the theft for a long time. “Beware of wild animals” greets you on an A4 sized sheet stuck right under the television set. Leopard sightings are rare but the animal is present regularly. It is the monkeys you need to be more vigilant about – during the day when it is light out and you’re definitely going to run into an alpha male or two. Muscled apes with pink butts trying to rain down broken branches on your head. Leopards keep to themselves and that too mostly after the Sun sets and you’re less likely to be out partying. People sleep early and wake early here in the hills.
Monkeys. Creating noise-polluting roof-pounding. Shrieking into the wind-rustled pines. Interrupting my eavesdropping onto their conversation.
Stories from Ranikhet from our previous visits can be found under the #NAINAxRanikhet tag.