YOU HAVE TO VISIT INDIA with no preconceived notions when it comes to the clash of civilizations during your travels, especially by road. The contrasts are vivid from hour to hour, day to day, as you try to come to terms with the sheer vibrancy of color in the villages contrasted with the depressing drabness of diurnal encounters of third-world poverty.
And so it was when Lolita and I spent a few days leading up to April Fools Day in 2003 touring Ranchi with my elder brother Misbah followed by a brief stay at his newly established ranch 40 miles away nestled in an out-of-the way village called McCluskieganj – once touted as “Little England” by its retirees of Anglo-Indian heritage.
As a retired General of the Indian Army, Misbah insisted that we first repair to the Officers Mess, all very spruce, spic and span, and adorned with pictures on the wall of past commandants – including his! There, all the officers on duty – senior and junior – welcomed us with due deference both before and after a right royal lunch:
Lolita (right) being shown around the Mess Gallery Portrait of Misbah on the Right
Relaxing in The Comfortable Mess Lounge for a Cup of Tea
After taking in the local sights, the three of us took to the road and headed for Misbah’s ranch 40 miles away. The hilly countryside was a joy to traverse and along the way we came across a variety of scenes that I can recall all these years later:
En Route from Ranchi to McCluskieganj
The Ranch was a game-changer – a place in the wild that only an outdoors-man could or would relish with enthusiasm. But the ranch house itself was warm and comforting.
References: Wikipedia; My Photo Album
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