The evening before I left apple country Thanedhar, I made a quick stop at the sole church at Thanedhar ie the St Mary's Church. The church was built in 1872. Loved the stained glass work in the church. That always looks really quaint.
If the Beas River was a treat to watch on the way to Thanedhar, the Sutlej was even The road girdles along the banks of the river. It gave me a feeling of holding hands with the river as she walked me home. I drove on to reach the sleepy village of Sojha and passed through miles and miles of fields of Blue Iris. Did you know that the Blue Iris is like the cousin of Gladioli twice removed. So if you see references to the Gladioli flower in my second novel Married But Available, you know which part of my vacation inspired it !!
The Retreat where I stayed at Sojha smells of fresh cedar wood. We met Preetam Reddy and his wife Pallavi who were volunteering their time at Sojha. Preetam and Pallavi are both programmers. Preetam most recently worked for iGate in Japan and was in Infosys for a while after doing Civil Engineering (Rascal Rusty's favorite oxymoron) from IIT-Madras. They are bother avid trekkers and were disappointed at not being able to convince me to join the gang. All I did was to join them for a walk to the Sojha village where I met Johnny.
Johnny is the village mascot. He is a 15 year old dog who rules the area. Last year he was attacked by a Snow Leopard and survived. You can still see the scars on Johnny's body. Johnny escorts the visitors around the village. He did that for me and walked back to laze around and play with the village kids. The Teerthan River flows close to Sojha. In the evenings, the Preetam would organize a bonfire to be lit. There was fresh trout served in the evenings for guests. That's one rendezvous Johnny will never miss. He would join us for his share of grilled trout and then go back to ensure that the village is safe from the attacks of the snow leopard.
The evenings in Sojha are just magical. It would . What a welcome change it was from the sweltering heat of Gurgaon in June. I would just lie under the warm quilt and pray that someone would make yet another cup of hot coffee for me to make the plotline move faster. Here is the sight of the rain soaked Sojha that greeted me when I woke up. It was going to be a lazy day. Just the kind when you can sip chai and tap away at the keyboard. Just the perfect day to write out the romantic portions of the novel.
A couple of days at Sojha and this gypsy was ready to move on to the next destination - McLeodganj - the home of the Dalai Lama.