Sunday, July 6, 2008

Ghoom Barabar Ghoom

Our Trip : Ghoom Barabar Ghoom

The idea of going independently on a tour was so fascinating that plans started to take a concrete shape even before we realized it. The discussion ranged from a shopping list to what one would be actually wearing and doing. No stone was left unturned as to the activities which would entertain us. It may not be wrong on part to say that our group enjoyed talking nineteen to the dozen.

Frantic phone calls between the group members as to the amount of luggage and that too ‘smart’ luggage preoccupied our thoughts and the amount of discussion and interest ensured that we were on our way; for now at least to the railway station. Indeed, the Vadodara railway station has such a grand look, one feels invited; feels as if we need to go and travel.

The Dehradun Express, a train which takes a very long time but was very convenient for our group. The morning of 18th Dec saw a very busy time for 10 families to see their children on the tour. Can you imagine, younger siblings giving advice to the older ones!!

The bright lights of the oncoming train filled our hearts with excitement and as the rolling wheels of the train stopped, time stopped!! Our bogie was nowhere in sight. Surely there must be some mistake.

“arrreee… who S2 toh wahan hai, ekdum last” called Vijay, our friend.

This sentence created a hectic activity among at least 25 people who started to rush. The number of people to see us ‘off’ was more than the actual travelers.

Everybody got in but now the train would not budge. Satisfaction is rare. If the train does not come, it is a problem. If the train comes and you don’t it’s a big problem. But when the train does not move when you are seated, it sure means wishing ‘goodbye’ every 2 minutes!!

I always say ‘tata..ta…..ta..’ when leaving but this time Aai(mother) got so fed up that my parents left before the train could leave the platform. Even Sheetal was supposed to report for her work. She did all the packing and I hope I’ll remember where she has kept what. Even her list is very complicated. “Bring me dry mehendi coloured bandhani saree” said she and the other day she showed me another brown shade.

“Hmmm” !! people and their idea of shades.

Shefali’s sister came after her birthday bash and examinations. See Mona’s sister, giving her last minute instructions of not eating anything ‘baharwala’ or talking to strangers. Those “what would my big sister do without me” was all I read in those 3; Sheetal, Sonu and Vasudha. These 3 sure make a flock.

Only Poonam scores in case of bossing. I whish I had a sister like Mili – so cute and obedient or may be the grass is greener on the other side. Poonam felt so much of responsibility, she came 45 minutes early, may be because we are going to stay at her home.

All of us had prepared very well for the journey. Proper blankets and snacks would surely see us through. But at what time was the train going to start? Wasn’t it late already?

Ah, the movement of the train and we were moving. ‘Bye Goodbye…’ so it went. We were laughing and having fun when we decided to play a game where any word related to computers is to be told. This was invented by Lavanya, the ever bright and her own self person. she always joked about how her father was burdened with a child like her. She sure had the ability to laugh at herself.

The game was obviously being dominated by the Java people, NT (Neerav Thakkar) and Lokesh. NT wouldn’t lose a chance to win and Lokesh would always find some out of the blue solution. Poonam and Lavanya stuck to their C++ concepts and Shefu and myself explored VB for carrying on the game. But where was Nimit?? Peacefully sleeping! Wonder what had got into him. Some problem, I suppose he is those types who do not believe that talking lessens your problems. I hope he is his normal self again, after all a tour without his soul would be the worst thing.

And look at Neerav Shah (Dada), with eyes closed and ears all attendtion, he would give us some solution. But dada has not sense. He sleeps with his spectacles or may be he wants to see clearer dreams. I heard wearing coloured lens makes your dreams of that colour. God!! And my doctor advised me to remove the lens before going to bed. What confusions!!

The game ended finally and we played Antakshari for some time, before one of the passengers offered us a tabla as back ground music. Must say it was a “musical dabba”. In between, we had many singers and dancers with the asbestos as their musical instruments.

By the way, after the breakfast of bread, jam, butter, we had revitalized our energy and it showed in ur next game of continents. Then came the delicious spicy pulao brought by NT. Remember, those ants in Africa which devour anything that comes in their path. You could say the same about us.

Sitting here in Ratlam, I can already feel my stomach’s demands. Poonam, Shefu, NT, Nimit are standing on the platform or on steady ground and I am writing this sitting in the train and hearing my stomach. Lavanya and Mona are sleeping peacefully and Purvi is writing her own diary not allowing me to read y own to others lest our thoughts get mixed up.

19th December, 1999

Wonder the amount of food we can eat! No limit. We finished off sandwiches, pulao, puri bhaji, tea, chikki etc in one day.

Today’s day dawned with a refreshing smile on everybody’s lips except Shefu, who was on the verge of crying because we woke her up. Ha..ha..ha….

Mona had threee cups of tea in less than half an hour and I had two. Lavanya got up at 9:00 blabbering about some ‘blue box’. I think she might be dreaming about her won blue sweater. NT had some problem sleeping; could be because of no blanket or the torch and lens case kept near him. To top it all he brought a ’20 brushing toothpaste’ which was given to all to check the 20 times theory. Wow! Such generosity at the cost of proving his theory or was it the other way round?

Neerav was the sleeping beauty of the group with a sleeping bag and Poonam’s jacket and Mona’s slippers. He is those ‘udharu types’, Lokesh the ‘fireman’ and Nimit the ‘Sherlock Holmes’ types with his unique cap.

Poonam has now asked Lavanya to keep silent for 45 minutes. Now there is no fun without her chatter, but thankfully I am getting time to continue with my writing. Everybody else is also quiet and poor me, I am quiet and busy writing. Nevertheless our group is a very good mix of all types, the silent, the chirpy, the naughty, the enthusiastic, the smart and what not; all have a special place in my heart.

With 4 of our group playing Crazy 8 and Napolean, the others passed time chatting and soon there was time for Shefu’s thepla which were over in no time. Then the chips and popcorn were done away with.

Suddenly, there was a change in the scenery, with Dehradun approaching, the air became more and more pure and the trees and flowers increased and most of all, our spirits rose. I hope I don’t sound like ‘the dead rising’

The train screeched to a halt at 6:00 pm and Uncle and his friend, Mr Goel were at the station who were simply surprised at the amount of luggage we were carrying. Anyway, the 10 of us with 26 bags managed to squeeze ourselves in 2 cars (the WinZip facility as they say).

A refreshing snack of freshly baked pastries and namkeen and adrak ki chai added a pink colour to our cold nose and cheeks. By 9:00, everybody had had a bath and felt warm and snug and dinner was the best part. Aunty’s rajma was too good with steaming rice and salad and pickle.

21st December, 1999

As planned on 20th, the sumo arrived on time at 8:00 am and we were all to go to Mussoorie. Confusion starts at the beginning and that is what happened. Getting ready then having a breakfast, not to mention the constant chatter, Uncle and Aunty managed to see us off by 8:30 am. So far, so good.

The first place of visit was the lake where many of us were feeling giddy. But the boating in the lake made everybody feel fine. Everybody was taking photographs of somebody or we were just banging into each others boats and shouting and then came the time to alight from the boat. Shouts of ‘oh, the waters so cold’, ‘it’s too deep’, ‘there are aquatic plants’ filled the air.

The next stop was at Kempty Falls where water turns into milk and flows though mountains by cutting them and carving a path of its own. The splash of water, the feel of water droplets on our face because of the fall, gave such a nice feeling; we took photographs and then moved towards our sumo.

The next destination was the company garden which very few people were interested to see so we moved to Mussoorie Mall. The shops in Mussoorie were nice, there was the roadside painting hawker who prices each painting at 1200/-. Too much!! Then there were woolens and softies. Lavanya and myself purchased the same sweater at 150/- and then the rest bought 11 sweaters or jackets of the same type for themselves or their friends.

Poonam, Lavanya and myself went till the end of the mall and walking back was a big effort. The chill was biting and piercing and at that time, Harish’s words rang in our ears – “you will need to wear 3 sweaters in all”.

23rd December, 1999

The first day when we did not see the dawn, and slept tile 9:30 am was a very normal day to be explored. Reading the ‘The Times of India’, in the filtering sunlight, sitting on the chair was a very warm experience in the chilling cold.

A heavy breakfast at 11:00 and a Vikram to Paltan bazaar found us in the bargaining market of Dehradun. The whole length of the street was colourful with this and that and one wished to buy some of this and that.

Purvi started off for her windcheater. I was trying to locate a saree blouse for my mother. Lavanya was trying hard to pass time and appear interested in others. Poonam had decided to stay with her mother. Shefu had made good bargains regarding her own shopping list. And what about Nimit, NT, Lokesh and Neerav? Busy in finding a gift for Poonam and Lokesh, each was running here and there trying to get the best bargain.

Such confusion ruled over us that each was going in a different direction. In this scenario, Nimit was sitting quietly, eating a pastry in front of Gaylords. We all gathered around Nimit and Purvi asked Neerav to try on her wind cheater.

“There’s a fault with this piece” said NS. One should have seen Purvi’s wide eyed surprised face. See her quick footsteps and see others concerned look. What to oversee and what not, so LG and myself went to some other part of the street.

After some time, Shefu, Purvi, LG and me had Chinese. I wonder if it was Chinese Chinese or Punjabi Chinese? All Punjabi masala and no garlic ginger paste, made it taste different.

Wonder of wonders! While going towards Gaylords, we met the gift searching party with a good proposal of telephones. Anyway, we were least interested in the technical portion and so having left the selection procedure(comes often as one appears for campus interviews) to this group, we went to Gaylords for a hearty snack of pastries. Ooh, the delicious pastries, chocolate, pineapple etc ; all were mouth watering. And damn cheap too! Unlike Baroda.

“Let’s go to the fancy store” called Poonam, our guide and host. “You are sure to get nice sweaters”

And off we went.

I selected a sweater for Baba and so did Shefu. Purvi went for a cardigan for her mother. Lokesh was busy selecting from the kids wear for Gudiya, his niece. That done, we realized we had no time sense; no time table to stick to. It was already 6:30 well past 4:30 when we were supposed to visit the computer division at ONGC. Anyway, we always enjoy shopping and bargaining.

This is life; eat, sleep, shop and enjoy!

At night after a dinner of hot chhole and rice, we again carried on with our ‘group discussion’. “Trrrr iingg…..” rang the telephone. It was Mona, telling us to pack her bags for her to travel to Jaipur. She would jin us later. What a mess. Each had enough on oneself and then to carry something extra. Oh no, so the whole burden was shifted to LG only because both were project partners.

24th December, 1999

Alas! The day to leave Dehradun arrived. Our plan was to go to Jaipur by a bus. But there was no organization on part of the travelers. Few were ready well on time but then what about the others on the other side? Hah. Dressing, eating, talking, hurrying, shouting, packing all at once! Uncle and Auntie made us hurry so as to catch the bus and reach Delhi on time.

The us journey was peaceful, except for half an hours traffic jam. Our bus also failed and all men had to get down and ‘maaro dhakka’. They huffed and puffed and then the bus budged and rolled and was thus started.

After some time, we reached Cheetal Grand, a resort worth watching and being watched at that place. The place is too good. The flowers, the music, the people, the ‘mahoal’ was just out of this world. There was a cage for birds who where eating so much grain that they looked obese.

We reached Delhi at around 3:30pm and went straight to Bikaner House to catch a bus to Jaipur. After the reservations, it was time to have some lunch at the Dhaba opposite to the Bikaner House.

The bus journey in Silverline was too silent except for the seats at the back.
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