Ropra is my family home in the foothills of the Himalayas. I don’t go back very often, but I do dream about it every now and then. My grandmother’s name was Ivy, and when I was a child she used to sit on the veranda with me and tell me stories about two monkeys, Chinoo and Minoo, who used to get up to all sorts of mischief all over the Kumaon hills.
The air always smelled of mint and magnolias. Orchids grew on the two magnolia trees on one side of the house and a rose vine had climbed up one of the veranda pillars on the other side of the house. The flowerbeds were always full of flowers and the forest beyond the gates smelled of pine.
At night I used to sit outside with my nani, my maternal grandmother, or my mother, or my uncle Sami, or sometimes all of them, and watch how the lights in the nearest town used to light up the next mountain. Ropra was a place of beauty, and a sort of natural magic. It was also a place where everything was possible. It was a place of dreams and musings.
Illegal logging, forest fires and late monsoons have parched the land, but I want to preserve my memory of Ropra when it was still a garden, with an abundance of fruit trees and delicious, wild, Himalayan berries.