Who could be here? This is a jungle. There are no street-lights, no houses, no shops,' said my daughter. My son, aged six, looked out of the car window and announced, 'I'll stay in the car for the next fifteen days.'
When Bulbul Sharma first sees Shaya, she sees it at its worst. So what makes her return to the tiny, hidden hamlet in the hills again and again until she finally makes it her home?
Is it the incredible beauty of the changing seasons and the birds and beasts they usher in? Is it the convivial company of robust hill folk, like Thakur, the conspicuously hands-off handyman, and Bua, who ages before our eyes and grows younger and younger in her outlook, and the lives they lead unspoilt by urban sophistication? Or the sheer flavour of Shaya, embodied in its rhododendron wine and apricot chutney on hot chapattis? Sharma whips out her famous sketch pad and writing paper to record all things bright and beautiful in Shaya. Hers is a keen but humorous eye, and reading the observations she makes from a simple two-roomed cottage in the mountains, it is easy to believe that paradise resides there.