After over 1000 miles of nestling in the backseat of a silver Vauxhall Vectra and a blue Mazda3 Takara. After over 10 hours of driving, close calls and rediscovering friendships. Finally, Inverness, we meet.
The guidebook next to me describes you as a city in the Scottish Highlands and one of Europe’s fastest growing cities. I am reading about your traditional beach resort of Nairn and the mystery of Loch Ness and even Charlie Chaplin’s supposed Scottish hideaway! Yet, as i walk along Young Street and hear River Ness flowing freely underneath, I am convinced there is more that meets the eye than the words in a guide book.
I am here with seven friends. We initially got lost trying to find Winston Guest House because you had not informed us about the road construction works and subsequent closures. However, driving on your roads is delightful experience I must say. The only downside is the drunk young men who speed past people like us screaming strange obscenities.
My friends, in case you were wondering are Neeraj Krishnan. He is like the dad around here. You should see him when he is in his element. He has a good heart and a humble spirit though. You will like him. There is Aparna Rajagopal. She does not speak much, but her silence can sometimes speak more than a pack of wolves.
Chakshu Rani and Nidhi Kajie are a couple. I know my supposed ‘snoring’ might wake them up in some 20 minutes, but then are the cutest bunch you will get to know. They are perfect for each other. You should have seen them earlier today when Chakshu was driving along the A70. Her long stares were met, though briefly, by his quick glances. CUTE!
Then there is the ‘terror’ of the group Anugrahe Hadke and her Housemate Samruddhi Pisal. There is a third musketeer called Aabha Koley but she couldn’t come. Anu (that’s the way we choose to call her) has an arsenal of cuteness, a big laugh and great sense of humour. She constantly ‘terrorised’ Neeraj through the journey with one liners and stories and was a disc jockey at a point. We are grateful for the like of Samruddhi though. A calming presence. It was weird how at almost every service stop, she switched cars. Guess she was spreading her love for all around.
Now back to you, Inverness.
Your restaurants along Bridge Street look inviting from the outside, but i am yet to taste any of their cooking. I am used to being spoilt by the cuisine from Cardiff so you will have to work harder. I am only going to let this McDonald’s burger and its accompaniments issue slide because it’s our first meeting.
If there was another way to put what i am going to say next, i would have done so. The Inverness Castle looks magical under the light of the full moon. Despite the chill of the night, my gaze never wavered from its magic even when the giggles of some of the ‘town girls’ drifted past.
In a few hours, i will be expected to rise again for a proper tour of your true character and hopefully it will be different from what these sheets of paper are telling me.
I have to be frank with you though, you are located in a land that is flowing with sights that turn heads. At every corner, grown folk like us studying for postgraduate degrees kept turning in our seats and ‘oohing’ and ‘aahhhing’ all over. Look, you have to understand something; you just simply can’t have that many snow-capped mountains, rivers with wildlife drinking from it, landscapes that literally come alive as the sun goes down and expect us to do nothing but just stare at them.
We took pictures. There is said it. We took lots of pictures. Deal with it.
We are glad to be here, though. We love it here.
PS: There is a girl, lady, woman, individual here as well. She is one of us but i wanted to save her for last. She is the most excited of the bunch. She actually got me to go out after 12 just to take pictures. Can you believe? This happened while everyone was getting into bed! Who does that? Then again, i have to admit. I will not have been on this trip if it was not for her. You will like to meet her. She is in the one with the broadest smile who thinks the moon should be in her pocket for safekeeping! Rumela Basu.