Unlike my previous summer vacations, this year’s made me come face to face with some hard realities.

As usual, the summer vacation began with sheer boredom to which I have been subjected to since we moved to our new home where there aren’t many neighbours or any of my friends. My father foresaw this and booked three flight tickets to Delhi. I was happy as I wanted to visit all the historical places I had learnt about in school. I thought of the amazing architectural structures Delhi is famous for.

But things turned upside down as soon as we reached Delhi where summer was almost exactly like in Kerala. We wound up our sight-seeing with the Qutb Minar, Lotus Temple, Red Fort and India Gate. As we found no difference between the weather in Delhi and in Kerala, we rented a car and wandered aimlessly in search of a cooler place.

The journey was tireless until we started climbing the serpentine roads going around the mountains of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. At first the sight of the hills and mountains up close and personal was enticing and then it gradually turned to be scary.

Often we were lost as the ‘way’ was just an assumption. There are no roads. The sides of the mountains are chopped or cut through to walk from one mountain to another. We saw people struggle to survive in that land where they hardly get enough to live or work on. I saw many children work in the terrace gardens, picking the logs and walking miles around the mountains. For many of them school is a distant option.

Nature is often not in terms with this land. Landslides and floods are commonplace. A small downpour or a minor tremor is enough to cause panic.

We spent the nights dog-tired in the narrow valleys guarded by gigantic rocks with our ears open to the roars of the river. I wondered how the locals sleep so peacefully with no guarantee of another day.

We reached Manali after 4-5 days. Only then we came to know that we were misguided by the GPRS as it had picked a worn out route instead of the new one.

My vacation was lit up by that two-week journey covering my ‘Incredible India’ by road.

Abhirami K.R., VIII A, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Thrissur