My eyes opened to the light flooding into the room. The morning glow shone through the curtains. I clutched at the edges of the woollen blanket, debating with myself whether to get out or not. Finally the call of nature convinced me, and I crawled out from under the covers. I tiptoed to the washroom while the cold crept up my legs and arms. I rubbed my sleepy eyes as I walked to a window and peeped outside. Soon, my numb cheeks stretched into a big, joyous smile.
Fresh white snow blanketed the roofs of cars and the sloping edges of the road. Groups of monkeys were running about or huddled together for warmth under frosted awnings. I sprinted to the balcony for a clear view, while my toes froze inside the warm slippers. It was a white paradise- the sloping roofs of houses were covered in snow, the melted parts dripping from the edges. The sun was peeking from cracks in the clouds, and icicles glittered in the golden glow.
I pushed and dragged my friend out of bed and pestered him to get dressed. His groans and mumbling disapproval could not overpower my enthusiasm. So soon we were out on the snow-laden trail that winds up to the Jakhu Temple, the highest point of Shimla, Himachal Pradesh.
It was 8:30 in the morning, hence the number of fellow hikers was less. As we started ascending the trail, a monkey grabbed my friend’s back and snatched his glasses. It happened in a few seconds, so his swinging around and hurling curses did nothing to help. The monkey sat on the ground, chewing at the spectacle handles. We could only retrieve the glasses when the fellow was handed a full packet of biscuits from the adjacent store.
So finally we hit the road. A shade had been built over the steep path as a shield against snow or rain. We walked up the dry steps as the snowfall grew heavier, and the surrounding conifer branches drooped with the weight of snowflakes. I went into a photography spree, and clicked almost a hundred photos before we had reached the temple. My companion almost dragged me to the top, where my eyes could not get enough of the beauty. Thick layers of snow piled up on metal benches and the orange shoulders of the gigantic hanuman statue. The mist among the trees and the falling snowflakes gave off a magical feeling. An undecorated Christmas tree stood there, majestically beaming in the white glow. The few people there with us initiated snow fights, and video called their relatives.
When my numb hands froze so much that I could not click anymore, I just looked around gleefully, glad to be present at that time and place.
We had spent the last five days of January in Shimla, our hopes of witnessing snow dimming into non-existence. So when the frosted morning light greeted us that day, the elated joy on our dry bloody lips was a welcoming climax to the trip.
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