Thursday, December 27, 2012

Kolkata- The Unplanned, Adventurous Trip!

We had a train to catch from Lucknow station for Kanpur and then Rajdhani for Howrah thenceforth. Goodness it was such a venturesome trip. For almost two days we were just on the run with few short stoppages. Lucknow-Kanpur-Howrah-UP Bhawan-Howrah Station-Kanthi-Deb’s Wedding-Back to hotel-Kanthi Station-Howrah Station-UP Bhawan- Kolkata airport-Delhi IGI Airport- Finally Noida. Bah! Seemed we covered many journeys within the span of mere two days. 

Sharat kept confirming everybody else’s train/flight tickets and amidst the entire hustle-bustle he forgot confirming his own tickets which rendered us in a little tight spot. Our tickets got confirmed while Sharat’s didn’t so we 5 of us managed on two berths. I and Sarita slept in God knows what kind of angels-an onlooker would have guessed us aliens for sure. Though Tashu slept great!

When we boarded train from Kanpur, there were two guys sitting at our berth already so we adjusted and squeezed in. I have no words to describe the expressions on their faces. It seemed as if we have snatched a morsel from their mouth. And, one of them had been listening to the pathetic Bollywood numbers on loud speaker. 

With super duper good night’s crunchy sleep we woke up all the more tired. And train got late. We reached Howrah around 1200 hours and rushed for a taxi. The taxi driver got stuck in a scuffle with Policeman who was reluctant to talk to us. Charged 500 bucks (driver claimed so) as a penalty of picking up passengers away from the taxi line. We were tired, hungry and put off by the police wallahs attitude. I didn’t like the city from the start. People, streets, taxi and almost everything and everyone seemed so hostile there. As if the city itself does not like to welcome guests. We had a terrible experience in the city. However, travel from Howrah to Kanthi was a pleasant one. 

At one time train stopped at some junction named Nandigram (As much as I can recall) and there was such a beautiful scenic beauty all around. I am usually scared to get down at any station other than my destination yet I got down and took a little walk on the platform. The breeze, the lush green fields clouded with fog- that was all so pleasant and soothing to my senses. For a moment I felt I have transcended to some other world.

The hotel where we are to stay at in Kanthi was somewhat similar to “Hotel Decent” :) And, drive from hotel to Deb’s place and from his home to the girl’s place was terrific though I don’t remember the exact events yet it was a wonderful ride in the daze. Black Label & Red Label Johnnie Walker Scotch Whisky- finally got to try it after studying all those funda behind its advertisement during PR. I got tipsy for a while and we ladies kept laughing over silly things we talked about. Sohini seemed sober of us three. Sharat embodied Devdas’s Chunni Babu Persona in the wedding. I was so tired that hardly noticed the ceremonies. Yeah, met the bride- beautiful (Bong girls are for sure gifted with beautiful dark eyes). Sohini did great as a translator all the time.  

It was nice meeting Muthappa. If I have to describe him then it would be- jolly-good fellow! Back to Kolkata next morning-tickets were not confirmed of the Rajdhani we were slated to catch so booked air tickets and left with very less time. So, all plans to go and see a city which had already made negative image got cancelled. We took a quick lunch @ some Chinese restaurant and headed for the Airport. We all were dead tired and may be one or two of us took a wink or so en route.
Back Home!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

'A' Sahab ki Mehman Nawazi

3rd day in Lucknow and there are lots of activities slated for today. I woke up, did packing got myself and Tashu ready on time so that we do not waste much of time dilly-dallying also, had to give some buffer to Deepak as he always is late.  I didn’t find my husband in the room so assumed he must be busy with Mr. David which actually he was.  I might be skipping a lot since there had been so much commotion on the mind front (graver issues that need to be addressed big time) so forgive me. 

Deepak was busy in his fixture and Kundan had to drop his nani and eventually we got late while Sharat and Sarita had been waiting for us. I do not like to wait and keep people waiting. Or maybe it is that I just don’t want to be late for anything. I have always been like this- either reach earlier than expected or be exactly on time. But, there is something with Deepak, howsoever hard he may try he still gets late and then I am available for free to take on the blame. Deepak delayed as he was busy with Mr. David- seemed a long time affair to me. So, finally we got late while Sharat and Sarita were waiting from like past an hour.

We reached Rajbhavan (that’s where our A sahib stays) at the main entrance guard confirms where are you going and then we are ushered in to visit A Sahib. Good yaar! I mean all that attention, power, authority and above the rest the respect which one gets in such position. It’s amazing!  Though, I still believe there are very few people who know how to handle their attitude- i.e. to stay grounded. Very few people manage to stay sober and decent with the power. And, I am sure Sharat is one of those guys who can (NB. I said ‘can' and not ‘may’) never put airs. I am no psychologist or human behavior analyst yet I feel that the impressions and analysis of people I generally make are sincere.

A trip to Lucknow Residency, Bara Imambara, Chota Imambara, Rumi Darwaza, and finally Lucknow Mahotsav. So, we had tea and Tashu watched her Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Episode on YouTube and then we all left for Residency. It was a nice trip- all girls cooped up in one car and the guys with Kundan. We had this Policeman tailing around all the time after all ADC needs to escorted lol! However, this made me wonder do these guys get some privacy or not? Well, everything has its pros and cons.

We went to a museum first and then Residency area. Tashu loves gardens, flowers, walking barefoot on grass and when she got little tired and irritable, I took her out in the garden for a while. She loved it and enjoyed which gave us few clicks.

A group outing always confirms the fact that what you enjoy with a bunch of good friends that you can never do alone. We didn't do any historical digging to be specific or checked all those cannon marks on the residency wall. What we did is a quick tour, pulling each other’s leg and Sharat and Tashu combat over the camera. Tashu thought that it's her camera while it was Sharat, and he teased her to his heart’s content. Seems Tashu has registered everything in her little kaleidoscopic mind and may come up with some good revenge plan with Sharat. Sharat, stay alert since as soon as my girl sees you on FB she starts saying, “Maine kuch nahin kiya.” And, I am sure every mischief is your doing :)

After residency we headed towards Bara Imambara, now I got a little glimpse of Lucknow with those mosques, and old houses. There we found a guide appointed specially by Sharat's caravan. Deepak was busy on the phone throughout the outing. This David seriously kept him busy. Even Sharat had so many calls coming in between. So, most of the time these two big shots were on their phones and this gave Kundan big time cramps. He was really into complex," God I am so vhella banda no calls for me." Sohini is a lucky girl! At least her husband once home is home. Almost every photograph has Deepak on phone call. I sometimes feel so bad then it's a part of my life so maybe I should not be bothered any more. There was bhoolbhulaiya in Imambara premises kind of creepy if one really gets lost. I at times wonder how those Nawabs and kings who actually were of robust physique were able to escape from those narrow gullies. We did a good photo session there. We actually did spend lots of time in Imambara, so there was no point going to Chota Imambara, and Rumi Darwaza which in fact is like the Delhi gate from where you pass while commuting. This made us decide to go and have something first to satiate our palates.

I figured out that Royal Cafe Chaat Outlet is quite a famous joint in Lucknow at least among our friends. Sohini wanted us to try Basket Chaat , and all the way to this joint I kept wondering what this Basket Chaat actually is then  it was like 'khoda pahad nikli chuhiya'- it's our Dilli's own Lacchha Tokri... God what all nuances people have picked up to make money. Anyway, we all had chaats and then scuttled back to Sharat’s place. After a while we left for Lucknow Mahotsav. Sohini caught a little cold and had sore throat yet she was game for any outing. So we left for Lucknow Mahotsav again I felt it’s going to be some cultural event show. It had few minutes’ cultural programs though and the rest was any ordinary fair with an amalgamation of Delhi Haat INA and Appu Ghar. As they say when you are with friends so there is no end to the fun. We took a giant wheel ride excluding Deepak and Tashu. Meanwhile Tashu and Daddy took car ride. It was so good to see them enjoying together. Then we all of us including papa-beti took Columbus ride. I thought that it’s not going too high so Tashu would be managed but we had to get it stopped in the middle as Tashu started screaming and choked a little. Deepak also felt dizzy and then I knew he would stay same rest of the evening. Kundan-Sohini left early and we guys left for dinner at Royal Cafe, Hazratganz. The food was really good.

Next day we just lazed around and had Palak Paneer in lunch and a movie late evening. Gypsy broke down while coming back so had to wait for another one for a while. By morning Deepak decided to attend a Deb’s wedding and Sharat was busy confirming tickets of the umpteen numbers of people including us.

I wanted to buy some Chikan Sari for Ma so Sarita took us to this market called Chowk. On the way, we had a small episode of chicken aka chikan. Sharat exclaimed, “Prachi, you will find really good chikan in this market.” Deepak looked at me as if I have sinned and am already doomed. I said Yeah, I know that’s the reason I am trying it here in Lucknow. Sharat and Sarita both exclaimed, Yeah, when in Lucknow you ought to try it.” “Lucknow aye aur chikan nahin liya toh kya kiya.” DKS was so tensed and gave me so wearied looks which I definitely overlooked. I simply told him, "See Deepak it has to be some day then why not today." I am not asking you to try that, I and Tashu will do. Deepak really got so irritated which of course he didn’t make too conspicuous and replied, “I am fine with whatever you want to do, but Meri beti nahin karegi.” Sharat coaxed him to try it once at least and my dear husband was reluctant even to hear anything about it. Though he was very much convinced that I am about to try the chicken (chikan) that day. He just walked along helplessly as he was the one under the butcher’s knife.  He didn’t get what this chicken-chikan is. We entered a sari emporium and started checking few. Then, we told him this is the chikan we were talking about all the way long and not the chicken. Man, you had to see his expressions he gave a sigh of big relief. Lol! I still wonder how he could believe I can try non-veg when I don’t even eat Egg. But, that was a great fun at the expense of Deepak.  The entire time he had those tense looks tinged with helplessness.

Sharat did his shopping and then lunch @ Dastarkhwan. Food was overpriced and not so good. Royal Cafe topped the charts but somehow Golgappas @ Chaat Corner stole away the trophy.

Kundan-Sohini had already left for Kolkata in morning and now we have to catch the train for Kanpur and from there for Kolkata.

See you @ Station guys.

Wait, I was about to miss something here- Sarita, when I first met her, my husband declared, "She is very quiet and sincere Georgian wife till date." I too kind of agree with him. Now, she of course is sincere but never knew she could be so fun and amiable lady. I mean I had this imprint on my mind that she doesn't talk much and she is quite serious by nature. Woo, when she entered with a tea tray in her drawing room. She was all so amicable and cheerful. She had such vibrance on her face as compared to the day when I met her first. But, then those were the difficult times and now God Bless them both. They look so made for each other.

And, yeah Palak Paneer and Tea- we can check in anytime for that :)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Kundan's Land Finally!

I just had a thought-shall this post be the thread of the last one or begin afresh. No idea! Whatever be the case this post will still stand individually. Before, I tell you about Kundan's Land (the term got its coinage from a well known member of Georgian family who himself is a travel writer).

Let me take you little back in time so that nothing gets missed.

So, finally we reached Lucknow station. Train was I think late. My dear husband said how to find Kundan-Sohini here. Well, he knew, and of course I knew that wouldn't be too difficult. You just have to look for chic & sassy Sunglassed faces- lo behold! There comes Kundan-Sohini. Guys, couple really have a style statement! Loved it! I personally feel, very few people know how to carry glares and they are the ones!

After having nice, warm ginger tea we left for Kundan's place. This is one such new feeling -to be picked-taken-rushed-again taken-shown around. You might be going crazy with all this mumbo jumbo well, what all I mean is it was new to be new at some place where you are just supposed to sit and wait for things to be done. 

Kundan aka Mars champ has this flair for talking and telling you things- this tendency to tell you everything in a go with details. And, he really was bubbling with full on martial energy hahaha after all we were in Kundan’s Land. You can never complain ‘you didn’t tell us this or that.’ It’s up to you how much attentive you have been while all the details were poured in. I had heard of so much about Omaxe City and his newly built house that I just didn’t want to miss that first look. I hardly had a minute’s sleep in train and was practically dozing en route Kundan’s home yet I snatched myself forcibly from the stupor and got attentive to him. He took us from main gate of the residential society-Omaxe City so that we can have a good look around. And, I propped myself up a little to see and take in everything in my view. We took a big round and then a right turn and there stood his palatial mansion alone so defined- huge white house.

Uncle was reading a newspaper, relaxing under morning sun. His chair facing little lawn they had maintained. I was so tired to see around yet I never miss to see little gardens in the houses. I have lived in a house with huge garden before coming back to India. Besides a little garden in your house is the most precious possession-like an asset you feel pride in.

I greeted uncle and aunty. Actually, to be honest, I was looking forward to meeting Kundan’s mother. As, Sohini told me she is a very nice lady and I too found her so. I don’t understand her language (Bhojpuri) but her expressions and smile make me comprehend whatever she is talking about. Most of the time either I nod or smile back or say ‘haan ji’. But, then this is also a kind of conversation -a smile from one face to the other.

I was so hungry. Usually, I never even ask a glass of water with anybody, but when Sohini went in kitchen to fry bhaturas then I just couldn’t control and just had garam garam Chole Bhature which actually were so tasty. Kundan showed us our room.  

Kids have their own way of expressing joys and sorrows, likes and dislikes et al. Tashu liked the house more than me and Deepak. She was really enjoying there- climbing up and down stairs, watching Doraemon through stairs. 

Sohini has kept Television set in such a way that anybody can see it from anywhere in the house. People in kitchen, on stairs, on first floor-it’s a view for all and spares kids  from straining their eyes too.

I honestly do not want to compromise on the privacy of KS... yet let me tell you I really liked the idea of wardrobe cum dressing room cum bathroom attached to their bedroom. At first, I wondered why Kundan and Deepak are leading me to a cupboard when what I asked was a bathroom to take a good nice shower. I didn’t want to be hurled into a cupboard for this. (As kids in Narnia and discover a new world of fantasies and even if it has to be done then let me take my little girl along why she miss all the fun) And, lo it was actually a bathroom with nice dressing area.

I must say Kundan has done a lot of thinking and invested loads of hard work, money, and time and above rest his dreams. Dreams are those precious ingredients that help in building a beautiful world for you. Aah, again I’m going astray.
Tashu and I took a power nap and then we left for outing. We were there for three little days so no lazing.

KS (Okay now on Kundan-Sohini would be KS) took us to their society club- an awesome place to spend your evenings. I so very much liked that with pools for adults and kids. Relaxing area, clear water pool, palm trees surrounding the entire area what else one would need.  It was so beautiful. Tashu didn’t want to come back; she was so exhilarated at the sight of so much water around her. We literally had to drag her back from there. I really envy you people for this lol!

We took a round of entire Omaxe City. It’s quite similar to the Sushant Lok in Gurgaon or may be more like a place where Vijayadithan used to stay. It’s remote from the main city hubbub, peaceful with less traffic and less people then we went to Sushant Golf City. It was beautiful indeed but all of this made me feel little wearied- I don’t mean ‘put off’ actually it was like I expected something else from the city ‘Lucknow’ and haven’t seen any of it anywhere.

Though, the silence- I would definitely not call it ‘peace’ was for sometime soothing which of course we delhiites do not usually find. These societies resemble like concrete jungle of bricks with impenetrable silence in them. They are so lifeless because people who generally shift to such sites are so loners the do-not-disturb-me-or-I’ll –see-you-by-fist types.

We were doing sightseeing, gossiping and having good time but what got registered in my mind is Kundan’s exhilaration- the excitement with which he was showing every place. It happens when you realise your dream somewhere and you want people to feel it and see them the world you have made for yourself. I would have done same in his place and I was so liking it and slipping into my own reveries again which of course I am not going to talk about now-may be later some time.

At Golf City too Tashu had fun. We all actually had some good moments together. It was tranquil there with green grass, water fountains and a steep slope which Tashu definitely loved most.  

And, here too was fountain so again it was real difficult for us to drag little girl back.

We went to Sharat’s place after that- to his office where Tashu spilled tea. Everybody noticed that I am not with my husband that day but next TATA-Ambani-Birla or something like that in the line.  I was about to forget this episode OMG. This was the highlight actually, didn’t I tell you Deepak was in the middle of some deal when we left Delhi. So, here this deal was on-going and he was continuously talking to some Mr.David on phone which finally confirmed Kundan that my husband is more interested in this David guy and not in his wife. Alas! Poor me, how so much I tried to hide but couldn’t.

Anyway, it was not only me who is struggling with - Pati-Patni- aur Phone scenario; Sarita too is a company in this.

Evening was a ride to the city- Not ‘City of Nawabs’ but ‘City of Mayawati.’ (here, again I quipped about this self obssessed lady and my husband is going to warn me against the consequences that may befall upon me).  Kundan drove through the city showing us all those stone carvings, and ‘huge parks with no parks,’ elephantas, in the city. We checked out Ambedkar Park, a huge memorial built in B.R. Ambedkar’s (who of course must be wondering like me-“ why the hell so many stone gardens- a small plant would have done it man!or a hospital or may be a free school”  “the lady has gone crazy cashing my name, I bloody died poor in vain”) memory.  

And, then back home.

I wanted to take a stroll outside after dinner with Sohini so for this I planned to put Tashu to sleep first. When Sohini asked to come for a walk it was me whom I put to slumber. I was dead tired!

Kundan’s parents are very simple people. Aunt’s language as I told you I cannot comprehend yet understand.  She gave me a Sari which Sohini made me choose. It was not necessary but couldn’t refuse aunty, though she was very much concerned whether I’ll wear that or not since she has never seen me in sari or suits either.   A funny episode happened related to my dressing. Kundan’s nani ji was there and she asked his mum, “doesn’t she wear anything like sari or what...” to which aunty replied, “no, these are the only kind of dresses she wears, and don’t worry.” She felt that I am not used to wear saris. I was there when this tete`-a-tete was going on in between elderly mum and daughter. I just couldn’t control myself and a giggle passed out. Aunty gave me an expression as if she had made her mum understand things well.

Mithu (Parrot) was the centre of attraction there.

Tashu made them put the cage down so that she can talk and play face to face with him. She tried her best to feed him biscuit, chapati, daal and everything else she could get hold of. Mithu too understood she is a hard nut so he played the competition hooting on the top of the voices. Tashu befriended Subhi (kundan’s niece) and that because she drew Doraemon for her.

I wanted to talk about Sohini, but just couldn’t find space in between as she needed some special mention. From last time I met her she has grown mature, very mature. It was so nice to see her managing this big house which I definitely would not be able to do alone. She was happy. They say ‘first impression is the last’ and how so true it is in her case. For me she is like those little birds who starts chirruping with first ray of sun. Sound of her voice is like a bird chirruping-smiling and laughing and talking at the same time. And yeah, Kundan she is a true match to you-high spirited and bright young lady.

Next day we had to leave for Sharat’s place and yeah there were some plans of going to Lucknow Mahotsav, and of course I didn’t want to miss visits to historical sites. I fell in deep slumber-still hoping to see the City I had always been reading of in my books.

Keep Walking...
At Sharat’s-Next Day!  

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Trip to Lucknow- The Train Journey!

So, finally a vacation, if it can be called so. Lucknow trip was in mind of course, but the plan was never concrete. I still am in daze so as to how my dear husband sacrificed this much- taking a holiday from his beloved workplace. But, then revelation was not far behind- he had a fixture in process which he worked on in Lucknow. He was happy with his lappy and some David (the client or what not).
Lets begin in a classic way- that's the way I love to read stories.
One fine evening, on December 4, 2012, which actually turned out to be the terrible beginning for a holiday (Tashu hit herself on her eye lid, Deepak's fixture didn't close, landlord cheated 1500/-from previous month's rent), we left for Old Delhi Railway Station to catch our Farakka Express bound for Malda and Lucknow being one of its drop. En route station we went to my Ma's place for a quick dinner and leave our car. I confidently suggested Deepak that it's NDLS from where we have to board the train. Unfortunately and as usual I was wrong, and train was from Old Delhi Railway Station (DLI). We immediately rushed to take auto for the right station and fortunately made it in time.
Now, the train- It was very unhygienic and people are all over it right from berths to floors to doors. We had those side seats and as far as I can recollect it was RAC (Reservation against cancellation). We had seats no. 15 & 23 i.e. my seat back faces his one. Though its the very common seating pattern which we actually practise in our daily routine but I thought of compromising during train travel and so did he. Deepak exchanged the seats and sat right in front of me with his premonitions related to chilly night winds. He actually was right; I mistakenly did not pick comforters and so had to spend a very wry and back chilling night. I slept uneasy or rather say didn't sleep at all. Waited for morning to come so that pain of not able to sleep due to cold winds seeping through gaps in windows subdues. I am thankful that I had enough shawls to keep Tashu warm that night. Though, I am not liking it yet I have to say Deepak's premonitions were right that I and Tashu are going to have very painful night journey. He at one point even suggested deboarding the train and getting back home to which I refused feeling that this chance would never come back.
There were umpteen situations that made me go into tizzy during that night train journey but Deepak won the field again- he managed, amidst all the confusions of seat exchanging and spine chilling winds, to work on his laptop. God, I was so pissed off that time- I might even have looked like a twin sister of red color Angry Bird (which you can easily find in Shoppers Stop, Big Bazar, and many other toy shops.
We reached Lucknow in time. Kundan and Sohini were there on the Lucknow station to receive us. Finally, few days away from tedious household chores and Deepak's ruminations over future & plans. I was looking forward to some great time with my husband, kiddo and of course with Deepak's friends whom I now consider as members of my extended family.
The issue got settled that we are to stay first at Kundan's place and then with Sharat.
We went first to A Sahib's( that's how Sharat is being referred as-'A' stand for governor's ADC from Army) residence in Rajbhavan UP. I have always found Sarita ('always' as if I have met her 'n' number of times- lol!) very coy and reserved-les talking types. On the contrary she is so vibrant with all those easy falling words and smile of hers. And, guys let me tell you, if my dear husband begs first position in chai-wallah competition then she is no behind. She gives tough competition to Deepak. Tea was so refreshing and aah I can still feel the aroma and taste of it down my throat. (wink wink). Tashu had some flowery times-plucking flowers from Sarita's garden. Then we left for Kundan's home thereafter.
So, we reached Omaxe City- residence of Kundan-Sohini. :)
Stay at Omaxe City, Lucknow....
Keep Walking... :) ;)