My third most desired place (it could rank earlier too...this isn't a list in preferential order or anything) is a city in the state of Uttarakhand in India. Maneri, which will forever be special in my heart, is one among the cities along the banks of the Bhagirathi river. The Bhagirathi river is one of the two headstreams of the holy river Ganges (currently a reservoir of unholy filth downstream, and as I have no way to contribute to it's clean up, I will shut up about what the rest of the world already knows, and is likely confounded by. I do consider the Ganges holy, and am disturbed and disgusted by what it is now. But that has nothing to do with the rest of the post!). The Bhagirathi by itself is a turbulent river, and has had many dams built along its course to harness water for electricity. This has impacted the course and flow of the Ganges considerably (many people deny this).
Maneri was where my Dad lived for years while he worked as an engineer on one of the many projects there. My mother joined him after they were married, and I apparently became a possibility in that lovely, verdant city. Mom's memories are in snapshots of simplicity, gushing water behind the "camp" where my parents lived, the winters when she would knit me little woolen sweaters, mufflers and boots, that I still have, and winding trips down to the city main where they would shop for weekly supplies. My first birthday was celebrated around a campfire, with Dad and Mom dispensing "samosas and jalebis". Mom fondly remembers the folding chairs, having mountain goats going about their business, and the kids running around being themselves.
|Image - Maneri, Uttarkashi, via www.holidayiq.com|
There is a picture of them, standing in the eddying waters of the Bhagirathi, my Dad holding my Mom protectively, and my Mom looking impossibly lovely and young. Her saree is hiked to avoid a drenched hem, and her midsection is cradled protectively.
It was the ritual among the mothers to slather on vit E oil on the kids and let them run about in their bare essentials in the late morning sun. This was to ensure they had adequate vit D ofcourse! We all played on the banks of the Bhagirathi, using the foliage to great advantage.
Dad has memories of his constructions sites, where they blasted rocks, and worked on foundations of dams that we learned about in textbooks much later.
Maneri's lyrical beauty calls to me daily. I make up stories about it. Started writing another book about it before another set of events took over. No doubt my parents sowed the seeds of yearning and curiosity about a far off time in my life. Whatever it is, it is my ardent wish to be a part of Maneri someday. For however long or short a time as possible. I want to be a part of my past!
Image credit - Maneri, via http://www.holidayiq.com/Maneri-Sightseeing-Photos-Uttarkashi-583-13516.html