In the city fields,

Contemplating cherry trees….

Strangers are like friends.

                                          -Kobayashi Issa

Renowned Japanese Haiku poets have enchanted their readers through a glorified imagery of illuminated spring blossoms and their overwhelming impermanence. The symbolism of appreciating the fleeting wonders of blossomed pink buds spread around the globe from Japan to US, Korea, Sweden and many countries.

India joined the burgeoning fad last year with the inception of the Cherry Blossom Festival in Shillong. I decided to experience the thriving frenzy and live the philosophical gaze by attending the natural splendor.

The pale pink blooms of autumn belong to the Himalayan cherry blossom or Prunus cerasoidesThe native cherry blossoms flower for barely two weeks with delicate petals wafting in the gentle breeze.

Banking on pleasant temperatures between 15 and 22 degrees in Celsius and an elevation of 5000 meters above sea level, around 5000 trees are planted between Umiam and Shillong. Dinabandhu Sahoo, the director of IBSD, is the think-tank behind getting Shillong to plant more trees and organize a mass festival that would boost tourism by drawing the world’s attention it.

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First Day: A Massive Blow to the Inflated Hype

When the State Government decided to capitalize on the stunning pink and white blooms, the festival commenced on an uncolored note.

Looks like the prolonged rainfall forced the blossoms off the trees.

So much for the unpredictability of the weather that left the tourists dispirited and sad!!

I couldn’t spot any of the flamingo pinkish hues at Wards Lake or Polo Ground. The Wards Lake was rigged up with paper lanterns to be illuminated at night.

Apart from the pink and white lanterns, nothing really lived up to my expectations.  Western Music Unplugged was scheduled for evening and I decided to drink up the beauty of the nightlights on the brink of dusk.

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Paper lanterns put up at Wards Lake
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Illuminated bridge at Wards Lake
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Wards Lake at night
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Illuminated paper lanterns near Cafe at Wards Lake
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Cherry Blossom festival saw Wards Lake come alive at night

Second Day: Morning Sunshine and Glowing Optimism.

Waking up to the sanguine sunrise and peaking outside the window from my room, I could catch sight of blushing Cherry blossoms with sprouting buds soaking in the rising temperature to blossom. My hopes lifted up once again and I decided to hunt some more Cherry Blossoms on the rise.

Like a book in teetering piles, I went on a mission to scout out places that would enable me to take full advantage of the beauty of this brief season.  Thanks to an Instagram page @cherryblossomshillong, suggestions poured in from a guy who struck the dirt road and clicked pictures of a perfectly blossomed tree about 11 km from Shillong near ML05 Café.

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Cherry Blossom trees outside my window

This is my first meeting with the gracious Cherry Blossom at face value. I felt there were two worlds radiating from the suffused cluster. One world which was radiating outwards and the other which took me inside the one-dimensional life that evolved around dense lies and pretensions.

The Japanese Cherry Blossom festival is premised on the concept of appreciating the beauty that lasts for a short while.

The bitter truth that eludes us from mourning the instability in life and come to terms with the fact that nothing lasts forever, be it health, wealth, status or youth.

I never appreciated the subtleties that transformed into graceful affairs but gazing under the mystical pink curtain, I was swept by a positive vibe to reflect on the lost moments.

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Cherry Blossom near ML05 Cafe

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Cherry Blossom: Love at first sight
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Cherry Blossom: A perpetual astonishment
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There is no such thing as stranger under a cherry blossom’s shade
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Cherry Blossom near the Eastern Air Command Road, Shillong

Although Wards Lake had a no-show Cherry Blossom appearance, pinkish hues infused the borders of the lake next day. I was unlucky to not stay the next day but the burst of optimism that Shillong will be painted in pink and white hues by the end of the festival seemed promising.

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Cherry Blossom: A new day along with a new fragrance at Wards Lake
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Wards Lake getting pink
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To be alive beneath cherry blossoms

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