Saturday, February 22, 2014

Café Cherapunjee


It was our first trip after marriage. “Trip”, not honeymoon. We are not much of the mooning type. We are “more-the-merrier” type. So, two days after our marriage, we along with four of Neel’s friends booked an Innova and headed to Meghalaya.

The destination? Café Cherapunjee.

It so happens that one of the partners comprising the new management of this place happens to be Neel’s pal from his St. Anthony’s days. When he first started managing the place, he invited Neel to visit the place and so we headed there for the weekend.

Our first impression of this place was – “WOW! Are we in India?!”

Rightly called 'Scotland of the East'

Rolling landscapes, a semi-circle of pine trees surrounding a heritage bungalow, smoke rising from the chimneys… this place looked straight out of a calendar. 

Raja, the friend who partly manages this place, met us and guided us through the rooms in the bungalow. The bungalow was an old British Post Office, restored as a resort now. They have a restaurant with a fireplace as well as a lounge room. The décor was warm and woody, made all the more beautiful by the Christmas decorations that adored the place.


A Christmas tree here, bells there, woolen socks hung at the mantle and mistletoe hung at the front door. Old movie posters hung on the walls; I specially liked the “Singing in the Rain” poster (also, there’s Audrey Hepburn looking fabulous in Breakfast at Tiffany’s in the ladies room!). An old gramophone was set against one wall, a statue of the famous Old Monk was against another wall. There was also a small vintage-looking telescope propped above the fireplace mantel. In other words, fabulous old-world charm.

After a quick tour of the bungalow, we were led to our cottage. It was a tented structure, propped on wood stumps. Outside the wind blew cold, but once inside the tent, it was relatively warm. The cane lanterns gave off a warm glow and the décor of the room looked very inviting. White bedsheets, soft blankets, pillows and cushions, a rug on the floor, wooden floor, western toilet with all amenities… who thought a tent could be this luxurious! 


Wise, Old Monk



Outside the tent, the afternoon light was getting dim and the boys quickly settled on the verandah for their first drink. Old Monk, no less!



Smoked and delicious
Raja got the bonfire ready and we all settled around it. Dishes of finger-licking food appeared magically and we devoured them all! As the evening progressed, the wind blew bitter and we got merrier. After some time, we dragged ourselves away from the bon fire and settled besides the fireplace in the lounge room. 

The fun continued. It continued long after I crawled into bed in exhaustion. It was -2 degrees outside and a hot water-bag was sent to my room. With three layers of clothes, a heater and my feet placed on the hot-water bag, I slept like a log till 8am next morning.

Next morning, Neel and I had cups of steaming Assam tea on the verandah of our tent with the sun warming us. The others woke up one by one, groggy but up for some more fun. We had breakfast on the lawns, pasta and parathas with more tea; then we headed to the Sohra view point which is just a kilometer from the resort. 

After Sohra, we went towards Shillong Peak. Since Shillong Peak has become way too commercialized, Neel suggested that we go to the half-peak. It was a place Neel frequented during his college days. It’s basically a meadow overlooking the city. We rolled around the grass for a while, talked, some of them started drinking early and soaked in the mid-morning sun. 


After some time, we headed to Shillong. It was shopping time! In record time, I bought my annual supply of bags and shoes while the others sat at Cloud 9.

It was around 7PM by the time we reached the resort. That night, Raja’s wife, Raisa arrived with their little angel, Saira. We all entertained the baby doll who was having fun throwing the Christmas decorations around!

While the others enjoyed, I curled up in a cane sofa and tried to sleep by the fireplace before Neel pitied me and escorted me to my tent at midnight. There, in seconds, I fell asleep. The others partied till 2AM.
After two nights at Café Cherapunjee, we said goodbye to Cherapunjee early the next morning, reaching Guwahati by lunch time. The boys kept on wishing that there were surveillance cameras in the resort so as to capture their antics of the previous nights; they swore the material could be used for the script of the next Hangover sequel! In short, the first trip after marriage was a grand success!

And Raja and Alan, you guys are doing a tremendous job! Thanks for inviting us to Café Cherapunjee… We shall return soon!



I don't think they have a website up yet, but you can check this place at their fb page: https://www.facebook.com/CafeCherrapunjee

So long!

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