Could someone identify the people who give nifty names to shops, hotels and roadside inns? While travelling by the Jaipur-Delhi highway on a freezing, foggy morning, when the car felt like a spaceship advancing through eggshell white clouds, we suddenly saw a white signboard with red letters, ‘Jungle Babbler’. It was the name of a hotel reminding us that we were on terrafirma. A hair salon in my city is called ‘Appearance’. Never mind the spelling, the name stumbles upon a profound truth that uneasy lies the outer shell, if a black glory is not crowning it. A hotel at a bus station in a vacation city was metaphorically called ‘Traffic Jam’. In a small town in Rajasthan, at a swarming market place, we heard music blaring from a shop that sold cassettes and music systems. It had an onomatopoeic name, Jham Jhoom Enterprise. A few lanes farther down a beauty parlor proved it’s utility through it’s name, ‘Magazine Girl’.
Bhowali is stillness personified with it’s mute mountains and soporific roads. Even the soft drone of cricket jars on this quietitude. In sync with that, a small eatery called ‘Tranquil Restaurant’ snugly nestles at the foothills. While driving from Bhowali to Nainital in June we were faced with a highland shower. The gorge and the mountains on either side were veiled in white vapour. Our adventurous driver inched forward through the miasma following a truck’s taillight. Came a signboard, ‘when life gives you an unexpected turn, expect your only friend, the L.I.C. Yellow cosmos, Scarlett poinsettias.’ Came another sign, ‘the road is lonely, barren and steep and I have miles to go before I sleep.’ Sums up our life’s journey in a couplet, doesn’t it?