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Cash is King

It was a hassle-free drive on another day soon after the new SOP relaxation for the movement of inter-state was announced.

Cash is King

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  10 Oct 2021 3:15 AM GMT

Kamal Baruah

(The writer can be reached at kamalbaruah@yahoo.com)

It was a hassle-free drive on another day soon after the new SOP relaxation for the movement of inter-state was announced. The vehicles were made a beeline for clearance and we finally passed a drive-through the Pahammawlein Toll PlazahoweverI failed to recharge instant Fastag through UPI as the mobile signals shown poor connectivity and I had to use a debit card for toll fees. A rude shock heard 'ATM nahichalta' (won't work) – before I replied kiu (why), my co-passenger daughter pointed to my smartphone. I realized and hastily took out my purse as cars behind started honking which drove me to press the accelerators full until the next halt.

The Shillong drive is always pleasant with the sun hidden behind masses of clouds most of the time and I sang along the poetic lines of Robert Frost. Meghalaya hills are lovely, green and endless-loop of cooling mountain landscape. My wife was narrating our most talkative nephew 'Dhunu' how to draw mountain lines by seeing naturally. There was no stopping by woods on a snowy evening but we were stopping by a police check post on a sparkling sunny day approaching Nongpoh. Alas! The Magistrate let go of our car by seeing the SBI logo on the windshield and we drove again along the Guwahati Shillong Road.

Travelling with family to this lovely little town is always a good place as one to stop for refreshment at fast food joint 'Jiva'. It's usually crowded but offers great food. We walked into the banqueting hall and were greeted cordially. It was a tough choice indeed from that well-presented menu. Soon we ordered a hearty meal the lunch was served. It was another everlasting meal with the view of the surrounding hills through staring out of the window, where the passing cars are the only noise that disturbs the tranquillity of the hills. The clouds had come down and started drizzling very lightly. I got up from my chair and kept shutter speeds fast to catch the rain in midair through my DSLR. Digital India empowers our society digitally but it was another polite refusal from the cash desk 'sorry for network connectivity issues, cash please'. Fortunately, my brother-in-law had some currency.

Rain, rain go away, come again another day that never happened and we had to drive again under some rain towards Umiam to see some crispy sky, catching the sunset and stunning lake setting in the lush and lofty East Khasi Hills. Suddenly the rain fell heavily, the windscreen wiper failed to clear the visibility and we're frightened that the flow of water influenced by gravity would wash away, where the muddy waters carving the soil of the hills. There was no way left to drive up the hills and finally, we were stopping by rains on a dusky evening. The rain-soaked the majestic lake at Barapani and the picturesque of the vast man-made reservoir was mesmerizing.

While returning, we experienced rain waters flow down like waterfalls everywhere.

Shillong rains are extremely unpredictable. However, the occasional showers stopped occurring after a few miles of driving down the hills. A tea plantation on the rolling hills at Umran was caught the attention of everyone and we all wanted to get close to nature with some memorable clicks. As the sun went down the horizon, we hurriedly got into the car.

The highway is dotted with stalls for selling fruits and leafy vegetables approaching Nongpoh by Khasi women. The Northeast is home to varied indigenous vegetables such as herbs, shrubs, trees, and creepers that are cultivated and even grown in the wild jungle. The hilly peoples are more culturally and nutritionally effective with traditional vegetables. Leafy vegetables are known as poor man's spinach! Green leaves, tender shoots, buds, flowers and calyxes are well displayed. You have no choice of numbers and bargaining as they sell in attractive bamboo buckets. Isn't that funny for not being able to buy three pineapples? Finally, we had to settle for four.

The most scenic drive wasn't complete without adrak-chai with pera at Byrnihat. I noticed an ATM adjacent to a bank but we were lost in a strange place that day. The ATM door was locked. While returning, vehicles of Guwahati don't forget to fill the fuel tank full at the 9th mile, as Meghalaya slashes prices of petrol and diesel. The mobile network may come and go but it won't bother your journey for its everlasting scenic beauty of the hills. 'Hurrah! The network is there at last' and I finally did one transaction through POS at the fuel station. It sounded good but realized why cash is always a king and more valuable than any other form. Autumn vacations are round the corner. All you need is some cash while exploring the Northeast where network plays hide and seek behind every mountain shadow and even angels fear to tread to our hilly terrains.

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