Beyond The Clouds
evo India|July 2018

Riots. No internet. Torrential rains at the wettest place on the planet. A true-blue SUV. Perfect recipe for getting high then!

Abhishek Wairagade

1862MM. THAT’S THE AMOUNT OF RAIN THE ‘wettest place on earth’ receives. The infamous Mumbai monsoons fill in only about 1/6th of that. Imagine constant sound of rain splattering over your house’s metal roof, numbing your mind like a heavy metal track. The locals have to make do with grass as sound deadening material. You can barely see anything ahead of you even with eyes wide open; even a car’s headlights bring visibility of less than four feet. Thank the clouds that follow you everywhere – they dine with you, they follow you to the market, they accompany you to bed; they're even in your dreams. And no, the place we are talking about isn’t Cherrapunji but Mawsynram; the rain-swept sleepy borough that dethroned its fellow Meghalayan town to enter the Guinness Book of World Records with its torrential downpour. What better way to get high on the monsoons than to pay a visit to the wettest place on earth?

The Getting High series has put the Duster through various highs in life; we have taken it to the world’s highest tea estate, driven it to the highest peak in Tamil Nadu and even dived into the now famous 3 Idiots lake, the highest saline water body in the world. In this edition, we had to make it big and thus we conjured up the simple plan of jetting off to Guwahati, then motoring down to Shillong, the British HQ of Assam (1874) and a town that had earned the nickname of Scotland of the East, and finally on to Mawsynram. A mere 154km in an SUV as capable as the Renault Duster that we had pretty much travelled the whole country with. What could possibly go wrong?

We picked up our Duster from Guwahati and headed straight for Mawsynram, a drive that shouldn’t take more than three to four hours under normal conditions. The route takes you through Shillong which is also the rock ‘n’ roll capital of India. We however found the rocks in the capital rolling with mobs pelting stones and what not. You see, a simple scuffle over drinking water led to a fight between two communities following a WhatsApp rumour leading to the whole city being put under curfew and internet services being suspended. Amidst all this, were my snapper and I, re-discovering the era when GoogleMaps did not exist, our shiny red Duster doing precisely what we did not want it to do – grab eyeballs. Now who wants to get high?

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