Monday, June 15, 2009

Memorial Day Vacation -2

Well, but apart from the ducks, there were actually other distractions in the Main Street region of Lake Placid. Foremost was the nature of downtown itself, which looked like the ideal vacation spot...people in summer attire with just a light jacket or wrap draped casually over their shoulders, strolling about with soda or coffee cups or icecreams in their hands with no definite aim in mind except appearing aimless, huge groups making merry in their own quiet or boisterous way at dinner in the smart roadside restaurants (which sported menus with prices alongside on their doors and walls itself, making it easy for passers-by to make up their minds about whether or not to enter at all), Memorial Day sales going on at most of the big stores, a crisp and bright sky above us and the Mirror Lake, with a beautiful natural waterfront which looked all the more enticing with a few additional strategic accessories, such as a couple of artificial terraces, a few stray deck chairs and a small glass greenhouse skirting the lake itself. Somehow that seemed to have increased the appetite of a huge group of holidaying Indians, who were all gulping down huge mouthfuls of bhelpuri/chaat for what seemed like an endless era. We eyed the area appreciatively and sent the boys to get coffee while we scoured the Gap store by the lake, succumbing to the lure of the 'Upto 50% Sale' Posters.

The 'GAP' store :

Sure enough, the boys ended up with 2 T-shirts each, falling into our "yeah, bargain !" traps (although I must confess I was astonished to find myself magically unaffected by the great bargains and actually exiting the store with nothing but my handbag in tow). Luckily, they were so elated at the prospect of more clothing options (somehow they always end up after packing with insufficient spare clothing, according to us of course) that they remained in a good mood for the rest of the evening, indifferent to Moumita and my constantly attempting to try their patience by stopping umpteen times for photos and inexplicably disappearing into every second roadside store that happened to catch our eyes (too frequent an occurrence for anyone's comfort and enough to annoy a person of the most philosophic temperament). Our ventures were however rewarded at one particular store by a most well-behaved and mild-mannered lady of the canine variety, who seemed to be attending to the counter while the real owner lady chatted with a friend. She even obliged our click-happy selves by gazing right into the lens, unperturbed by the spark of the flash.

The remarkable canine specimen :

But the most memorable part was the half hour we spent lazing by the Mirror Lake, which deserved every cent of its name, with its crystal clear surface. There was a duck couple swimming about near our very feet, who took very little interest in human activities or exclamations and only waddled right onto the bank and upto our feet to check for accidental crumbs (which , much to the hilarity of the others, caused me to panic and grab my bag from its reclining position on the grass, as if anatine characteristics included bag-snatching).

The duck couple :

Despite the 'Please Do Not Feed the Ducks' (which the bhelpuri family decided to follow most religiously), there was an Indian couple which decided to do exactly what they were not supposed to do. Even worse, their liberal supplies of crumbs to the unfortunate birds seemed to consist entirely of buttery popcorn, which probably wouldn't exactly be what the vet would have recommended as part of their diet. We pretended not to notice. After all, everyone was on vacation and the last thing they would have wanted was an impromptu lecture on the morality of feeding ducks.

Mirror Lake :

The view by the lake was like something out of a fairytale, it was so perfect and pristine, so still and serene. We could have spent an entire day there, just listening to the hushed chatter of people around us, the giggles of playing children, the sighing breeze fluttering our hair just the gentlest bit, watching the swimming ducks dig around for worms in the wet grass, the tiny ripples tickling the clear surface of the lake and the houses in the horizon that merged into trees that merged into mountains that merged into clouds that....well, you get the idea.

Felt like heaven :

By the way, the boys failed to win 'Mission Venison'. Apparently, it not being the hunting season, deer meat was not readily available. (It's a totally different issue that our rafting guide Sam mentioned the next morning that he wished he'd known, since he had some venison lying at home in his refrigerator a couple of days ago and would have loved to share a bite with us.)

K, in the quest for venison :

Anyway, before we were finally persuaded to prepare for departure, I as usual casually sauntered into a smart looking restaurant bang in mid-downtown, used the restaurant to freshen up (what a bizarre euphemism, I've always thought !) K is always scared that the staff are not going to be very polite if they notice that I don't really intend to order anything at these places except for working flushes...he behaves as if someone's going to arrest me or something until I actually exit the place without anyone even noticing me most of the time. Moumita being my worthy accomplice today, both the boys were equally jittery until we finally marched out with praiseworthy poise and relieved them (no pun intended) , apparently unharmed after all.

Anyway, we finally set out for the hotel, almost 2 and a half hours was 8 pm when we set out and now, our prime concern was where we should finally obtain dinner. This is what has always struck me as bizarre : the fact that even on weekends, one usually considers oneself lucky if one manages to find any diner functional at the perfectly plausible hour of 10 pm. This is one of the few things that we're yet to become acclimatised to : the fact that people here rise with the sun and retire with sunset, have dinner at 6-7 pm and top it off with a miniscule supper of cookies and milk at what would be our normal dinner-time or haunt the refrigerator in the dead of darkness for a midnight snack to satisfy sudden pangs of hunger. It's obviously the most practical thing to do, I've always thought, given the pattern of late evening sunshine in the northern hemisphere, but we being used to an entirely different set of food timings on the other side of the earth and in a tropical zone, simply cannot order our bodies to follow a similar rhythm. Hence, we were driving back, hoping to stop at some rare highway exit diner along the way, which catered to the eccentric travellers' whims. However, most seemed to be closed or closing, indicated from a distance by dimmed lights, neatly stacked upturned chairs on tables, the lack of any vehicles whatsoever in parking lots and more obviously, by the utter absence of any human being in the premises. Well, we were getting more or less reconciled to dining on our stock of travel snacks that night, especially considering that even the fast food joints nearby the hotel seemed to have downed shutters. We were singularly lucky to find the local Wendy's 'drive-thru' functional. We ordered salads and wraps at a point before the actual window, addressing a disembodied loudspeaker presence (Sabya Da did the honours actually, while we collectively prompted him), which repeated our orders for confirmation. A couple of mins later, we were happy humans, receiving our night's supply of food through the drive-thru window at the back of the eatery. We stumbled into the hotel, bidding each other goodnight at the stairs, into our respective rooms, where a shower later, we were having a healthy dinner (we were the salad freaks, of course) and hit the bed. Actually, K was snoring quite audibly, by the time I had worked my way halfway through my stack of greens. It wasn't very good manners to fall asleep with the TV on, but he was too tired, of course, to take that into consideration !

(To be contd...)

1 comment:

little boxes said...

love the new look :)
and travelogues just give me a high!


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