4 days a very short for a vacation, but then, beggars are not choosers!
It is very normal during foreign soil postings to explore the country of posting during leave. But with Eid being the national festival in Bangladesh, I feared massive crowds in every tourist location here. So I ran north from Sylhet. Through the Tamabil-Dawki check post into India. Up the hills of Meghalaya to Shillong.
Meghalaya, in Hindi ( and quite a few other Indian languages), means the abode of the clouds. From the marshy plains of Bangladesh (20-40 ft above sea level), the Khasi hills of Meghalaya (India) suddenly rise to 5000 ft within 2-5 kms. The people too look very different from the native Bangladeshi. The Khasia, Garo and Jaintia tribals of the hills have typical Mongoloid
features with small eyes, snub noses, fair skin and pink cheeks. The slit eyes with the wrinkles in the corner and the high cheekbones give them a perpetual grinning appearance - which goes well with their cheerful happy-go-lucky nature. The land itself is rocky with thick vegetation along the hill slopes and scant shrubs on the plateaus. This is in sharp contrast to the flat, treeless, slushy paddy fields of Bangladesh, a stones throw away!
As we switched from a sleek Toyota to a hardy Maruti Gypsy van, I could make out the difference in nature of the drivers. The former was mature & sober, while the latter was a Formula 1 aspirant! He took us up the hills, into the clouds and through the clouds into --- the HEAVENS!!
Shillong, and its surroundings have to be seen to be believed. The air is cool and fresh. The view is out of the world. The people are warm and friendly. The food - marvelous. And yes, the tea is home grown!
We saw the fantastic view of the flat plains of Bangladesh from Cherrapunji, the 'rainiest' place on planet Earth. We experienced the sublime feeling of timelessness as we watched clouds form over the still waters of Umiam lake. We viewed the panorama of Shillong town from the nearby Shillong peak. We rode up and down the green carpeted undulating hills of what was called 'The Scotland of the East' by the colonial rulers. The deep, deep gorges and ravines, the sparkling and roaring waterfalls, the flora and fauna, add to it a creepy limestone cave with stalactites and stalagmites .... ! I have to recheck the photos to make sure it wasn't a dream.
Which reminds me that I need to do something to upload some snaps from a Samsung E330 mobile to my PC. I bought a USB cable from Dhaka which turned out to be a fake. The CD software does not work. I am desperately trying to download it from the net, but my connection is too slow and unreliable!
Which again reminds me that I am back to normal daily life :)