Dewdrops on bamboo leaves!

Summer holidays meant 25 days at my grandparents place, 25 days at my aunt's place and 10 long days at home.
Located at Visvespuram, my aunt's place was a stone's throw from Lalbagh. Those were the days when sleeping till late was taboo and frowned upon as a waste of precious holiday time. Getting up at 6:30 meant we had 2 options: (i) join my uncle at the morning prayers, which lasted a whole hour or (ii) scoot off to Lalbagh for a refreshing, healthy and un"adult"erated "walk".
Given that option (i) meant sitting cross legged on the floor quietly for an hour under the watchful eyes of adults who were positioned at the right vantage points to ensure discipline, option (ii) was the most sought after. Add to this, we were a band of 6, with my oldest cousin (all of 15 years) popular for coming up with incredible ideas that left us in awe of his worldly wisdom.
Upon entering Lalbagh through the West gate, as you walk down the main pathway and take the right fork onto the trail around the lake, there was a bamboo grove. Walking along the trail, you could reach out and touch the bamboo leaves, and most of the mornings, there would be dew on the leaves. "Dew from the bamboo leaves applied into the eyes, makes your eyes sharp and bright", thus spake the wise old cousin picking up dewdrops carefully from the leaves and dramatically lowering them into his own eyes! And we 5 awestruck children dint need any more persuasion to turn this into a ritual. Come to think of it, innocent passers by must have been quite amused to see a band of six 10-15 year olds picking up dew drops from bamboo leaves and rubbing it into their sleepy eyes.
And that dint end there because we had to also prove that it worked. We would then turn the other way, towards the lake, point out to far away objects/birds and pretend to know exactly what they were (sparrows, pigeons, kites, serpent eagles (!!!), kingfishers even!). Not to be outdone, the rest would maintain that this was exactly what they saw too and hence their eyesight was as sharp, if not better, that the other.

Ahhhhh...those were the days!

From Heaven Lake by Vikram Seth

From Heaven Lake was an impulsive pick.
From Heaven Lake is different from page one. Very few travelog'ers can take you along like Seth does, on his impulsive, stubborn and ambitious journey as he hitch-hikes his way from Heaven lake (in China) to Tibet, then Nepal and finally home, Delhi. The fast paced narrative (I say this because there are often twists in the plot which could have made for a good piece of fiction) is rich with metaphors, taking you on a cultural tour through rural China, often leaving you with a feeling of surrealism, as you stand by the road-side when his truck breaks down in the middle of a road that barely exists or as you hold your breath, guessing how he would get to Nepal with all the rains and washed away roads.
And whats the best part about the book? While he expresses his opinion on various things Chinese, both political and cultural, at no point of time does it turn preachy or philosophical!