The Philip family came all the way from Bombay to have a holiday with us. They had become close friends very quickly. Tony first met Arun on his trip with Dudley Reed. He knew instantly that they would have a David/Jonathan type friendship. JoyAnn was the one who had given us the word about “The bed of nails.” We still loved her even after all that.
After the weekend, we jumped in the car and drove off to a small town called Kanatal towards Tehri Garwhal. It was a beautiful drive and we got glimpses of the snow capped Himalayas all the way there. We had booked a wooden bungalow at Colonel Sinha’s place. There were all kinds of little nooks and crannies and small rooms with low ceilings. It was homely and cosy.
We dropped them off so they could have some family time. A few days later we drove back to join them. We were almost there but just before Kanatal, we ran into a total roadblock. Nothing was moving and no one was going anywhere. Cars were turning around and going back in the direction of Mussoorie. A truck had overturned and was spread across both lanes.
A family of five, coming from Kanatal had left their vehicle on the other side and walked past the truck. They had lots of luggage. When we realised we would have to turn around to go back, we offered them a lift.
The jeep was packed to capacity with everyone sitting on everyone’s laps. Asha and Zoë sat on my lap in the front. We weren’t sure if the son was a cowboy or an Indian. He seemed to be both with his high boots, tight pants and cowboy hat. Whatever he was, he told us in an Indian-American accent that he was getting married. They were on their way to his wedding. There was lots of noise and chatter all the way to Mussoorie. When we got there they insisted that we stayed for dinner, which we did. They had a lot of questions about our faith.
We set off again the next day and made it to Kanatal. We met the Philip family on the road. They were so eager to see us again. It was as if they had been abandoned in Siberia. There was such a happy reunion. We spent most of the time playing games in the lounge. Pictionary was new to them and there was a lot of screaming and shrieking that went on. It was amazing waking up to clear blue skies and snow capped mountain ranges.
Back in Mussoorie we were sillier than ever. The smallest thing made us all laugh hysterically. On their last night, Arun and JoyAnn were pottering around the lounge while Tony and I were getting ready for bed. The kids were still awake in their room. Tony let out a huge fart and said, “Babe!” Everyone heard it. There was nothing I could do to convince them it wasn’t me. We could not stop laughing. It took ages for us all to get to sleep.
Silly times were so good for us. We were really intense about what we were doing. We needed to laugh and let our hair down. We needed to talk nonsense and be childish. We needed friends like Arun and JoyAnn to help us do that.