A quirky little place up in the hills

Just spent a couple of days in Landour, staying at an Airbnb property and walking around Landour, just Landour. We didn’t venture anywhere near the mess of Mussoorie and just focussed our energies on walking in the area between where we were staying (a couple of hundred meters down from Char Dukaan) to Char Dukaan, Lal Tibba and Sisters Bazaar. And what caught our attention is the quirky sense of humour in the signs that we saw around. These could be signs on the roadside dustbins, private properties or even in commercial establishments like cafes and restaurants. Of course, there would be the wildly unimaginative “Trespassers will be prosecuted” sort of signs, but between these there would be a couple that would bring a chuckle to your peregrinations.

This is the first one that we came across while having a brunch on Day 1 at Anil’s Cafe at Char Dukaan. It made sense for a small hill town which, we expected, would have a heightened sense of environmental awareness. So, while we took a pic of this, we dismissed it and didn’t really think too deeply about it.

After the brunch we decided to walk up from Char Dukaan to Sister’s Bazaar to pick up some provisions for dinner. And that’s when we came across a few signs that got us excited. We noticed that there were dustbins at the side of the road and all of them seemed to have something written on them. And they were not the typical thematic meaningless rhyme (that usually sound very silly).

Messages on the dustbins seemed interesting, but not really unexpected. A few steps ahead we came across one on a wooded board nailed to a tree in the forest, which must have been a private property.

That did seem like a nice message with an interesting take on the ubiquitous nature of the connected lives that we seem to live these days. And while we felt that it was worthy of a click, we didn’t really think that there was a theme yet. And then we saw this…

And we all just burst out laughing. “Leopards on patrol”, “Donations of human protein accepted”, that was really a funny way of telling us to keep off their property. It was great to know that leopards have been spotted in this area though. A few more bends ahead we came across this…

“Beware of dog” or some variant of that is what we have been used to see to keep off unwanted visitors. Someone seemed to have made some effort to clock their dogs and let strangers know that not only did they have the canines on guard, they had ones that were great sprinters as well and they had clocked them to the nearest half-second!! And if one wasn’t Usain Bolt, one would be well advised to stay away.

By now, we realised that there seemed to be a common thread running through the messages on signboards in Landour that indicated a serious application of mind to making mundane signs interesting (and blog-worthy). We must have looked rather silly, though, stopping to click a pic of each dustbin.

We reached Prakash Store at Sisters Bazaar and got chatting with the owner about these signages while picking up our provisions. And we gathered that the person behind them was the owner of the Rokeby Manor.

The Landour Bakehouse had a bunch of these really funny ones. But the one that had us in splits was this “signage” outside…

We did see a couple more noteworthy ones while we were walking back from Sisters Bazaar to Char Dukaan around the theme of getting lost…

We were now well and truly hooked to this quaint hill-town. I stumbled upon a book by Mussoorie’s favourite son, Ruskin Bond, about the history of the area and learnt that Landour had one of the oldest settlements in the Mussoorie hills. And in early days used to be a land that had attractions for both the pious as well as the debauched. He writes in that book…

The famous traveller, Lowell Thomas, visiting Mussoorie in 1926, wrote, “There is a hotel in Mussoorie (the Savoy) where they ring a bell just before dawn so that the pious may say their prayers and the impious, get back to their own beds.

After a few hours of walking around and seeing things like this written all over the place, you can say that we were all smitten. We spent the rest of our trip just walking around Landour and looking out for these quirks. The place didn’t disappoint. Among one of the more quirky ones was this plastic zip-lock bag taped to a shelter / look-out – a #PoetryPouch is what it was called. And as quirky things went, were as quirky as they could get.

We decided to spend Day 2 walking out Lal Tibba and sitting down there with some books. That was a different route from the one we took the previous day, but as for the signs, it was the same theme and they kept getting more interesting.

Some more philosophical than others, but often not too far away from the truth that we believed in. Maybe this was written by one such poet / philosopher (or maybe he was really taken in by Johnny Walker!!)

This day we decided to grace the Landour Bakehouse with our business – the aroma of the freshly baked goodies were just way to tempting and we felt that we had walked sufficiently to have burnt off any surplus calories. Plus, this would give us a chance to soak in the quirkyness in the cafe. One could say that we were definitely not disappointed on both counts. Their croissants were excellent and their walls had some interesting things to say…

There were a few more trash-can signages to discover on the way back. By now we were trying to explore trails that we had not taken so that we do not miss out on any of these gems.

We were now reasonably certain that we had left no sign left unturned. So for our last day we decided to focus on the Rokeby Manor and more specifically their restaurant, The Emily. The food was excellent, but that is not what this was about. They didn’t really disappoint us with their signages either.

This was, for sure, one of the more memorable places that I have been to recently. Even though we think that we walked everywhere we could see a path, there is this nagging suspicion that we may have missed something. Only two ways to figure this out I guess – either you tell me or I make another trip there soon.

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