Mussoorie Waffles and The Silver Moon

An open mini truck was parked nearby, drinking and filling water bottles. One bittersweet cold splash on the face, and I forgot the headache, nausea, heart ache and faintness of the bumpy old road.

Water is still free from mother nature.

Image design by Zeel Jani


  1. Tip from experience: Do not book an online taxi. 
  2. There are two routes for Mussoorie from Dehra. I took the wrong one with complimentary motion sickness. But at the end of it falls a small branch of cold, delicious water into a pit.
  3. The writer who lives in Ivy Cottage.


  1. Ruskin Bond’s first novel at the age of 17.
  2. ‘The habit of keeping a diary has led me into trouble more than once.’
  3. That night, I just walked till the end of resort and watched a movie in bed.
  4. Best cafe in Mussoorie. Hidden in plain sight, a silent white chair overlooking the valley, empty of people and fresh chocolatey waffles on my table.
  5. I had hoped to meet Rusty there, left a letter and two books for him to sign, forgot to ask for a receipt in the excitement of standing among a small palace of books where Ruskin Bond sits and signs them off.
  6. Last stop of the day was an overcrowded tourist spot.

For a perpetually hungry human, waking up early is a bad idea. Lemon Grass tea did not help my grumbling. I waited in the trail of woods for the buffet to begin.

I walked up to the point where I could sit by a tree and listen to music, watch the sunlight from makeshift maple leaf lens and crunch the crispy, fallen leaves under my shoes to hear them make noise in the deep silence.

Dehra is at the centre of a constellation of sleepy towns and adventurous cities. I had to make an itinerary for the two days I had. 

I chose to go where the room on the roof was, where Ruskin Bond is alive. I called up a cab service, ignoring the agency recommended by the resort manager and mentally engrossing myself into an extra-ordinary discussion with Mr. Bond.

Tip from experience: When ordering food, give instructions in detail. The attendant didn’t know me from eve so I had to eat spicy, though normal for people. Cursing myself,  I walked up the mini hill again, this time, in heels. The driver made my day, he felt like a long-lost relative, complaining and ignorantly boastful.

Somehow finding Mussoorie after 3 hours on road, I got down by the parking, Mall Road and walked straight to food. 550 meters uphill to a gate which leads down a staircase to the right, a welcoming breeze in a rectangular cafe seating of white wooden chairs and tables.

Mussoorie is where you savour that sweet tooth, hit it with warm chocolate and crisp, crumbly breads. They made me a waffle fresh and quick, hot from the oven, topped with their own ice-cream.

The attendant left me to enjoy in peace. Order garlic bread first, excellent cooking and also, to keep the chocolate taste in mouth last longer, upto 8 hours. 

I sat there till infinity, watching the trees in the basin of mountains, I sat there watching nothing.

‘Tring! Tring!’

‘Mam, where are you? We have to go to the Kempty Falls!’

I was too full and sleepy to walk to Cambridge Book Depot. I paid INR 50/- and the Rikshaw wala dropped me after 250 meters.

“इससे आगे रिक्शा नहीं जाएगा।”   

“तो पहले क्यों नहीं बताया, भईया।” I grumbled to myself as I walked past the barricade near the food stalls. I hate walking up. Nearly 350 meters away, stood my destination.  

The blue board book store had a front display dedicated to the resident author of Landour. His poster, always with a languid, easy smile of a grandfather, a woollen scarf  irrespective of the weather and a round gold trimmed pair of specs. 

I picked up two books, ‘The Room On The Roof’, for the story I remember from my school English book and ‘Landour Days’ because I couldn’t go there and stand outside his house under a shade and hope…

I left a fan mail with the books for him.

Tip from experience: The post office is nearby. Post him a letter directly. He may not read it but then, no one guaranteed you passing the boards either. 

My shopping done, I strolled back slowly. 

This was where I wanted my day in Mussoorie to end.

I looked through the shops on Mall Road, but found no unique mementos. Shopping is part of the things to do list. Something to remind us of the roads we walked, the people we met, the water we drank and the food we had.

I wanted their local fashion, an outfit. Something permanent to feel, to wear, to travel back in time. I didn’t want digital photos.

I want a proper camera, negatives and developed photos, put neatly by vacation in a cheap, complimentary Kotak album in yellow and blue.

‘Tring! Tring!’

‘Mam, where are you? I will show you the Kempty Falls!’

He loves the place like a shrine, I thought.

But Tip from experience: 

  • You know whats best for you.
  • You know your physical limits and your gut feeling.
  • Fuck tourist spots.
  • Learn to say ‘NO’ at the cost of sounding rude.

I gulped down a horrible plate of Maggie and was back in the car in 15 minutes. He was stumped that his “expertise” did not work.

  • Read the Terms & Conditions of your cab service. Verify all points on call before consent.
  • Use google maps to navigate and stop immediately and ask about the route, there are no U-turns later.
  • If a driver is late, won’t drive up or down to the pick up point, complains about the distance, fuel and extra charges of such a trip, hear the warning bells and call the agency. 

My head was bursting in pain. I slumped like a panda and forgot that covid still existed, I needed hot, desi food.

It should go in my oesophagus without complain, should feel tasty to my tongue and light and cool to my stomach but must fill it properly in an organized manner.

I called Mr. Rakesh Kadam to my rescue. He ensured that I got my order in 20 minutes, fresh and good looking. When in doubt, order Dal Makhani with buttery tandoori roti’s and extra butter, day or night.

Give the food 30 minutes to make you feel healthy again. I went to my gallery to sit down and thought to work but the breeze was so soothing after brunch that I forgot my thought. 

I waited for the cabin cat to come silently and attempt to sneakily slip in my room again, one paw at a time.

That night too, I clicked a picture of the moon, not because it came all ready and silver but because it came silently, through the woods.

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