In April this year, Mom, Dad, Luke (a.k.a baby brother), and I took a long-awaited family trip to Meghalaya.
For those who don’t know, it’s a state in North-east India where clouds and rain make the days cool and misty and magical. We spent most of our time in Shillong, also called The Scotland of the East, but I think Land of delicious pork would be a much more appropriate name.
Shillong is a very special place for us as a family. Mom went to school there, Dad taught in the Univ there, they met and fell in love there, and I went to play-school there.
The whole trip was a whirlwind of happy emotions, delicious food, and much-needed family time. Here’s just a little taste of what went down.
Let me begin with our first meal. We stopped at a small shack, just before entering the city. It was drizzling and the food was piping hot.
Rice and vegetables.
The spiciest, yummiest chilli-bamboo shoot pickle.
Stomachs full, we headed off into the city.
This is a view from the guest house we were staying at. Don’t the flowers make you happy?
It was a cosy place, complete with wooden floors, and the occasional friendly stick insect.
We had many, many friends to meet and places to (re) visit.
This is Dad outside his room in University (NEHU).
This is Mum with her best friend from school – Aunty Iris. I learnt that day that crazy laughter and silly jokes and happy memories only get better with age.
Here’s Gail (Aunty Iris’s daughter) and me – we went to play-school together. The only thing we remember about the time was eating our tiffin as soon as we reached school. What can I say? I started young We were meeting after 25 years!
This is what Aunty Iris made for us. We couldn’t move very much after this insanely good lunch.
We took a day trip to Cherrapunjee. Obviously, it was drizzling that day.
But there were many hugs to keep warm.
And who said swings were only for children?
It was beautiful every where we turned.
Undulating hills in light and shade.
Waterfalls that beckoned with their misty blue spray.
I spotted this mumma hen keeping her baby warm. So cute, right?
The most exciting part of the trip was our adventure in the Mawsmai caves. I think the poor quality of air in the caves brought out the best in my mad family. Don’t believe me? Here’s proof.
Things started out pretty sane.
But very quickly it turned into this.
After much excitement, there was light at the end of the tunnel.
The food on this holiday was the best. We ate like monsters (to put it politely).
But can you help yourself when this is what the local cuisine consists of?
Dokleh: Pork salad with ginger, onions, and chilli. I tried making this once. Go here for the recipe.
Jadoh: Rice cooked in pork stock and eaten with Dokleh.
Tyrso doh sngiang: Boiled pork with greens. Mom’s favourite. Apparently it’s all she ate when she was preggers with me. No wonder I’m a pork fiend.
Tungrumbai: A pungent fermented bean and pork paste. The yummiest, stinkiest thing ever. Mom’s friend, Aunty Ru, made all these divine things and even packed me a jar of Tungrumbai to carry home!
There were many other local specialities around.
Beautiful, woody cinnamon bark.
Local berries were my favourite snack all through the holiday. I kept thinking how pretty they’d look tumbled over a white whipped-cream frosting.
If you’re in Shillong and go shopping in Police Bazaar (which you must), and your feet get tired, walk into Glory Plaza and on the top floor you’ll find some momos that warm your soul in a place called Tibetan Kitchen.
Also, remember to order a Juicy Lucy burger at Munchies in Laitumkhrah. Luke declared it the best burger he’d ever eaten in his life.
I met Juni – one of my closest friends from college. We hung out at Matter of taste, a quaint cafe filled with happy, young people, and had some coffee and delicious pie. We laughed till we had tears in our eyes. Sometimes the distance and time and every thing else just doesn’t matter. You meet a friend after years, and it’s that same wonderful, comforting feeling.
Juni also got me some divine White Forest cake from a bakery called Caramel in Laitumkhrah. Not to be missed.
We did some touristy things like boating in Wards lake. The fun part was feeding the rather chubby ducks.
One cold morning, Dad surprised Mom with a special horse ride. We all had a go, but Mom was ecstatic
We also took a trip to visit our old house – the one in which I sat by the fireplace reading books and generally pranced around. It brought back memories I didn’t know I had.
Here’s the four of us on the steps.
Speaking of which, we got some really good family pictures.
Here’s another. (Don’t miss the doggy who decided he’s ours.)
Here’s one of my brother pretending he’s thinking of something serious. (Who you kidding, Lukey?)
But this one is my favourite.
There’s just something about it that says holiday and family and love.
Tell me about the last trip you took with your family, won’t ya?
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