Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Sundarbans - Reaching there...

This time we were 4 of us - 2 couples - Anirban & I and My sis-in-law & her husband. But thats not how they should be introduced...right? So let me reframe it....Anirban & I and Tiu & Chintoo. mmm..I prefer to use the names we call them with. It was 'puja' then and a lots of resistance from our parents. They wanted us to stay back home in the festive time. They were quite reasonable in asking so but we had a short chutti and wanted to do a usual.. so decided to spend 2 days with them and rest 2 with tigers ;)

So here we go....Anirban had already arranged for everything. We were going from Kolkata in a bus of Bengal tourism, and then would board a launch at some 4 hrs away from Bengal, by bus. Thats how I measure distance while traveling. For the first time we had a trip all planned. Lodging, food, sight seeing - everything was being taken care of by Bengal tourism.

We started early morning. My eyes were on the people we would be spending next 2 days with. We had a couple from Germany, a group of 4 ladies from Australia, 2 bengali families, 1 family from Orissa, and last but most important a family from Bihar... Most important because they were most loud and entertaining people in the trip. We were served breakfast soon after we started.

This family from Bihar and the group from Australia were our neighbors in the bus. My most of the time was spent listening to and observing them. It was real fun. They started with basic introductions. You can very well imagine the language problem. But the Man of the family was smart he prodded his kids to start the conversation. could be 2 reasons...he didn't want to take the risk of starting the conversation or kids were better at the language. I must compliment the kids here. They very successfully started the conversation and then all the family members joined in. I also got pretty good idea about the people around me...and that too without actually interacting. After 2 hrs we stoped at a petrol pump where we were told to freshen ourselves...a small dirty loo was there which we all were supposed to use. We Indians are quite used to it but imagine the situation of the foreigners. Anyways all of us were standing in the queue, where I got the chance to interact with one of the youngest in the Australian group. Got to know from her that in the group she has her mother, her aunt, mousi as we would call, and aunt's friend. Then we were served hot road side tea which was good.

Another 2 hrs and we were at Sonakhali from where we were supposed to get a launch. The bus stopped, we all got down. Australian group, I and family from Orissa were amongst the first ones to get down. By now we had got acquainted and had started talking...While we were talking we, my new Australian friend and I, kept walking without even realizing that rest of the group was following us...
So here we were leading the whole team to the launch without knowing ourselves where actually it is. Apparently Anirban and Chintu were calling us not to go further but we didn't hear. Now we all were at the spot where lots of local people are there and 3 launches are waiting for their people. I just took a wild guess and got into one that was nearest, assuming that this is ours. Whats the harm actually nahi hogi to utar jayenge..;)..And as earlier everyone followed the leader, oh which was me. Fortunately, all my guesses were right and we landed at the right launch. Wow we would be spending the next 2 days, 1 night on this. Great!
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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Jaipur Trip...

The Journey

There was no big group this time, it was only Anirban and I. We decided to travel at night and save a day. Our bus was from Bikaner house at around 9.00pm. So we came back from our respective offices at the usual time. I was not at Google then, so came back at 6.30pm ;) All the packing had been done a night before to avoid the last minute rush.

We reached Bikaner house on time. It was too cold. We had some hot coffee and waited for the bus eagerly. It was 10.00pm and we were still waiting...It was 10.30pm and we were still waiting. On inquiring at the counter we were told that the bus can be here any moment now. We were happy :). It was 11.00pm we found ourselves still waiting for the bus. But believe me it was not bad at all...
Chilled air, lots of people waiting - some families interacting and some losing their patience, - some reading without any effect of the bus getting late, - some like me sitting and observing people around and being happy about the fact that there is something unusual happening. Anirban was roaming around inquiring at the counter at times, busy talking to friends over the phone at times and talking to me at times..:)

Finally the bus arrived at around midnight. Nothing great about the journey though, as we were all sleeping ;) I woke up early in the morning to enjoy the early morning view and get the feel of the city. We reached at around 6.00 in the morning.

The City

We, as usual, had come with no definite plans. Got down from the bus, took a rickshaw and told 'rickshaw walla' to take us around. There's nothing like riding a rickshaw in the early morning :). After inquiring at 2-3 places, finally got a good place to stay.

At reception while Anirban was busy negotiating, I went through the leaflets and information brochures about the city 'Jaipur'. Wow! found one interesting information. There is 'Elephant festival' today evening in the city :) So we only have today first half to go site seeing. There's Holi tomorrow and office day after. So we went up to the room, freshened up, had breakfast 'aaloo prantha' and meanwhile told the receptionist to arrange for a cab for us in an hours time.

And here starts 'exploring Jaipur city'. The cab driver, a middle aged man with big mustache, was more than happy to be our guide and tell us all the details about the city. The moment we sat in the car he started of... this is a city of glorious past....all the names of the rulers that ruled the city with all their family details. Though we were not very keen on hearing that but still looking at the enthusiasm with which he was narrating, we heard him patiently.

The first place we visited was 'Hawa Mahal'.

It was a nice bright day, with lots of interesting people around.

Then we went to a place where we could buy lots of Rajashani stuff...Jaipuri rajai, dress material, jewellery, decoration pieces...and many more things. Probably drivers have a kind of contract with these people...he was praising the stuff to a suspicious level ;). We didn't buy anything.

Next on the list was 'Amber fort'. On the way our driver cum guide narrated us the full history of the place. Don't want to get into which now :) Could see the fort from was awesome, couldn't wait to reach there.

The fort is beautifully built, surrounded by a boundary wall 12 km long.

Thereafter, we went to the only Meera Krishna temple in the world. It was quite near to the fort and is not very frequently visited by the tourists. It was very calm and quite there.

That was it for now. We were hungry, so decided to have lunch on our way back and get ready for the elephant festival.

The Festival

We relaxed for a while in the hotel and then started for the Elephant Festival.

It was great. Beautiful ladies in colorful dresses were there to greet us all. A traditional welcome was done with Colors and Aarti. Most of the spectators were foreigners.
The inauguration was done by the tourist minister of the state. And then started a series of interesting things. The agenda items were - Elephants' fashion show, I mean decorated elephant parade :), Elephant Polo, Tug of war, Performances by locals, and much more...

Enjoyed it thoroughly!!!

To our surprise we were the only people in the hotel that night. It was fun ;).

The 'Holi' Day

Now starts our journey back home. Another great experience. We had not booked our return tickets, thinking that we will take a night bus as we came. But..... that day no vehicles on the road....Why didn't it occur to us earlier that we will not find anything on a festival day. Next day was our office so no taking chances. Somehow we managed to find an 'autowala' to take us to the railway station. Roads were all empty, except for a few boys groups roaming around with their painted faces and lots of policemen and police vehicles.

We were lucky enough to get the Shatabadi tickets for the same day afternoon, of course after much hard work. It was Anirban running around to arrange for the tickets. I did my favorite thing...sat and observed people. No, actually, I was taking care of our luggage as well. ;) The train was in the afternoon, so waited on the station for half a day. There was no hustle and bustle of the routine days at the station. It was all very quite. Had lunch at the railway canteen.

Journey back was comfortable. Office the next day better reach on time and rest.
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Friday, December 7, 2007

Trip to Nainital - Concluding

We explored the area that evening and got to know that there are many places we can visit the next 2 days. There are places like bhim taal, naukuchia taal, Sat taal, Kausani, Ranikhet, Almora and so many more. As usual again a discussion time... so many places to visit? After much discussion, came up with the idea of not visiting many places but to enjoy the near by areas. Had to keep something for next time as well na...hehe.

Also managed to find a good Bengali restaurant. Let me tell you a typical thing about Bengali people....I am Bengali by marriage... Whichever part of the country they are in, they will find 'Bengali food' and they... or shall I say we... love Bengali food.

Next morning after getting fresh and having yummy Aaloo Paranthas, we started for Bhimtaal and Sattaal. Nice roads, Gulzar songs, wonderful view... enjoyed the always. Bhimtaal was good.
Had hot 'Bhuttas' there.

It started raining the moment we reached Sat taal. Wooowww...thats what we wanted. Now who all want to get wet with me..;)...all...great! Decided to boat in the rain, have u ever tried....its awesome.

Also spoke to people around, and planned to come on a full moon night the next time :).

Lunch time! Had some rajmah chawal...most of people didn't enjoy it though.

Started our journey back. The best part of having your own vehicle is that you can stop wherever you want to.

So while going back to Nainitaal we halted at 4 places....not for food or tea but just to enjoy the view and the weather.

Good that we came in rainy - because its off season so no high rates and lot of people and two - just drive a stretch with good view, nice music and fog around...You would know :)

Reached back at around 6.00pm in the evening. Everyone, except Anirban and I, decided to go back to hotel and rest for a while. And we decided to go and have some Chinese food ... Anirban's favorite! Had nice chicken momos....not me...I am vegetarian...Thats the tragedy of our life, Ani's pukka non veg and I do not eat non veg. :(

Now is the party time! Elaborate meal, some drinks, loud music and masti. Had a blast that night... :)

Early around 6.00am I heard someone outside. And to my surprise, it was 'maalish wala'.... Anyways didn't get the malish (massage) done but me and Anirban got up to enjoy the view outside.

Everyone, except Avijit, was still sleeping.... Now where is Avijit? You should be able to thing he really enjoy doing. his car... :)

Decided to go the same day afternoon. Check out was at 10.00am, so decided to have breakfast in the Bengali restaurant I mentioned earlier. We all packed up and started climbing up to the parking with our luggage. Up and up and up......ahhh finally we reached. Had 'Luchi Dum aloo' a typical Bengali breakfast.

Journey back was not as enjoyable, not because we were tired but because we took the different route and got stuck in a traffic jam for around 4 hours.... :( We were expecting to reach at 9.00pm but reached at 2.00am. We really enjoyed the drive on dark sleeping roads with soft music.... Gulzaar is great!!!

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Monday, November 26, 2007

Trip to Nainital - Part 2

After having tea, we started from there at around 8:00 in the morning. That was a lovely morning...we were quite excited and fresh. There were no changes in the seating arrangement...inspite of the fact that some people wanted to ;)

Though we tried to keep both the cars close to each other, we lost the track of the other one...apparently they had taken some other route :). So another round of calling them up....finally they managed to reach us in about 15 min. We managed to convince them that our route is better...hehe

By now we all were hungry. So we stopped at a place we thought is good enough to have decent breakfast. Some of us ordered bread omelette and others butter toast, even chowmin was on the menu.. :) ....Yeah we were quite happy with our choices when we ordered but......I would be the last person to crib about things....but I've recently picked up this habit from someone ...and to my surprise I enjoy it ;) so let me go ahead and complain about the kind of food we had...
It was horrible....even that would be an understatement...:)... All burnt toast, with half cooked omelette, and no butter... Somehow we managed to gulp it to fill our tummies. And the bill! it was even more than what we paid last night for our dinner....Oh didn't tell u about the dinner experience na in the last post? That was a road side dhaba :)

Hey but where is our 'Driver' Avijit? Avijit, please don't mind if you come across this blog ever and read it ;) were one the most interesting person in the trip, believe me! He was busy cleaning his car, that is one thing he would not miss, ever. ;)

Here we go.....Now no stopping before the destination..we decided.

The weather that day was really good. I always enjoy journey more than the destination. The music, the road, the surroundings and the companions...everything was just perfect. :)

We stopped at 2 places on the way... though we decided not to... hehe
- First was the cool calm place with lots of greenery around, I think we were somewhere near to the Corbett. At least that is what was told to me.

We preferred walking that stretch rather than driving.

- Second was the place near to Nainital. We were hungry by then so thought of stopping there. It was a nice place with a waterfall and some tea stalls....We had hot tea, omelette, and some pakoras...and clicked lots of pictures.

The other car started before ours. We preferred to stay there for little more time and enjoy the ambiance. Cool breeze, Fog all around, and Light was amazing!!!

Nainital was hardly a few kilometers away now.

We managed to reach at around 3.00pm. :) Wow what a place...awesome!!!

As the trip was not a planned one...we had to look for a place to stay. Two of the "most experienced" people Anirban and Agni, decided to go for the hotel hunt. The newly wed couple decided to roam around the market and shop. Avijit, Baby and I decided to stay back near the car and enjoy the lake side view. And Agni's friend, we call him 'stock market', why I'll tell you later....he was nowhere to be found...;)

For some time we waited outside the car....I mean around an hour, and then decided to sit since it was quite tiring. And u know what, in another 10 minutes we realized that all of us were fast asleep, in the car parked in the middle of the market....always sleeping at the wrong place and the wrong time ;)...The wait was really looong. Our mates came after around 2 hrs with such an excitement as if they have conquered the world. Lets see what have they found...

We got down with our luggage at a place not very far from the market and cars went to the parking. We started walking, climbing the stairs with our luggage, walking, climbing the stairs, walking, climbing the stairs....walking, climbing stairs...oh god where are we was as if we are trekking a hill!
Finally we were there. 4 big rooms with nice spacious balcony and a wonderful view of the lake.

So all the "mehnat" was worth it.

Now is the time to relax or to have some food and chat or to go around or to go boating...i mean all these were the options on our minds. Finally, we decided to take hot bath, have something and then go around the place to explore the options for the next 2 days of stay. :)

I never thought that I would be able to write so much about the trip....Its the third part and we have just managed to reach Nainital. But as I said earlier, journey is always better than the destination!
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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Trip to Nainital (Part 1)

I came early from the office that day. We were supposed to leave at around 3pm and were a group of 8 people. Since I was the first one to reach back home from office I started following up with all....and Our house was the meeting point :). Everyone took their own sweet time to finish their work at the office and come. Finally, after many calls to and fro, everyone managed to come by 9.30pm. Not Bad at all ;)

And.. guess what.... we were still to decide where to go...hehehe...The choices were Nainital, Shimla, Palampur....mmmm...thats na we even discussed the option to go to Chandigarh....

After a loong discussion....
another hour...we decided to go to Nainital. I was happy as I had never visited Nainital before. :) We picked up 3 cassettes of RD Burman / Gulzar combo. Why I am mentioning this here is because these song were the most important and enjoyable part of the trip. Imagine we listened to the same songs time and again....the whole trip....same 10 songs.. :)

So finally we started. There were 2 cars...Avijit's and Agni's....Now the discussion was who will sit where....Why? would have been in the trip to know why.....Very smartly in slipped into Avijit's car with my luggage... :)....and I was very happy for this accomplishment.

We had Avijit, Baby, me and Anirban in one and Agni, Lokendar, Mrs Lokendar, and Agni's friend in the other. Just imagine even after spending 3 days together I don't know their names. Not because I
didn't speak to them but just that we called Lokendar's wife as Bhabhiji and Agni's friend...well... my mistake I forgot.

All of us had got long list of instructions from our parents......They were extra worried - we were traveling in monsoons... two - we were driving ourselves... three - we decided to travel at night to save a day... four - all of us are adventure freeks....five - well... will not bore u with a long list..:)

We were listening to soft music ...the one I mentioned earlier.... and enjoying the drive; and suddenly at around 2pm we woke see that we ALL were sleeping...including the driver ;) Then? then what, we stopped and asked the policeman...
don't ask me what was he doing there at this hour..... if there is any decent guest house around to spend a few does that remind you of Jab we met. ;)

After a search of just half an hour we were able to find one. We decided to spend night....
rest of the night actually...there. Oh! but where is the other car. There it was finally... another 15 min. :)

Took 2 rooms....all ladies in one and all men in one...
was there any need to mention it...Well..there is....
Those who know me would know that I have very few traits of a typical lady...:) So I h
ad a tough time with 2 ladies...typical ladies :)...They had many questions for me.....Why don't I wear bindi and sindoor, How many ssilk sarees do I have in my wardrobe, where do I shop my grocery from,.....again don't want to bore you with full list....I listened to them and agreed that I should actually follow what they suggested......Well...They had the majority ;).....So the next day I wore kurta, jeans...couldn't wear saree/ suit as I did not bring any.....with a small bindi and kum kum (sindoor)....I was looking always ;)

It is important here to introduce them.....

Mrs Lokendar from Meerut...just married...typical housewife...

Baby, also called Mrs. Avijit from Bengal, married some 10 years back.....learning Rabindra sangeet these days....

And you know me.....
Shailza, orignally from Himachal now settled in Delhi with Anirban. Easygoing, frank, honest and creative.....Want to make world a better place to live in...
I am contributing my bit I guess... :)...

See the difference in the way all 3 are introduced and believe me I have just narrated the way these 3 ladies will introduce themselves...

Not that I do not support being a house wife. I enjoy being an ideal wife, ideal bahu and may be I'll be ideal mom in future....but at the same time, I strongly support the fact that one should have her own identity as well....ME as a person....What say?


PART II, coming up soon.....

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