Tag: vacations

Vacation within a vacation

Vacation within a vacation

Okay I dug this one out from the drafts. It should have been posted right after we got back from the vacation but got lost. Last week’s Thursday Challenge reminded me of it.. and so here goes….

It was last year that we kicked off this trend of a vacation within a vacation. We went off to Mukteshwar for a quiet off-the-beaten-track kind of holiday. This year it had to be Nainital, every North Indian tourists haunt.
Nainital holds a special place in our hearts. When we were kids and vacations were few and far between, we’d holidayed there with the cousins. Now 30 years later.. the memories are still fresh in our minds. The hot tehri (what Punekars call masala rice with vegetables) mummy made, the chilled rain that gave her a horrible allergy at Tiffin Top, the flimsy shelter under which we took refuge from that rain, the picture we clicked of my sister, a cousin and I posing as Gandhi ji’s three monkeys, the walk over dried leaves down China Peak (now Naina Peak) singing Suhana Safar. Interesting, how I have little memory of the climb… it’s just the walk down that has stayed. Guess good memories last longer than bad ones :-). The trip was unforgettable.
And so it was with a host of memories that we made our way to Nainital. While Mukteshwar has a special charm with it’s long winding quiet roads and lush greenery Nainital is .. well to put it mildly… different. It’s choc-a-bloc with tourists and then quite obviously offers every touristy thing one might want to do. There’s boating and ropeway, the zoo, caves and of course the Mall road with shops jostling for space. It’s a 12 hour journey from Lucknow and we decided to go by road since train reservations would have needed too much planning and our helicopter had gone for servicing.. heh..heh.. okay you didn’t believe that.
First the statistics..
14 adults, 6 kids, 4 cars, 5 hotel rooms
… Nanus, nani mas, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces, man fridays, drivers… chaos.
THE JING BANG: Here’s most of the party
I was meeting up with some of my cousins after nearly a decade and even though we’ve keep in touch there’s nothing like getting together. The long summers we spent together as kids before varied school curricula ended that tradition, have left us with plenty of memories and bonds that haven’t frayed. The years melted away. It was wonderful to discover that nothing changes… that childhood bonds remain.. the comfort level .. the shared memories, the laughter… it all came back. There we were having bun maska for breakfast, dashing off to the close by Pappu da dhaba for tea, stepping out for a boat ride or a walk down mall road yet always converging in a room for long chatathons.
The Pappu da dhaba needs more than a mention. Many of us in the family are teaholics. One glance at the resort menu and we pretty much cringed at the tea prices. Then we found Pappu… the perfect solution to our troubles. We started off tentatively wondering how the hotel staff would react to this preference for Pappu’s tea over their’s. However, soon we were going there in hordes, calling out to each other as we went.. ‘Let’s go to Pappu’s’. Then we moved on to getting tea in flasks for the tired members of the clan. And finally.. we were asking the hotel staff to loan us their flasks to carry the tea back.
The kids were in their own world. They put the rooms to good use playing hide and seek and chor police. The three older ones looked out wonderfully for the younger bachcha brigade. I am glad They got to meet each other and make their own memories. I could see at least one of my New Year Resolutions being fulfilled.
MEN AND WOMEN: While the boys can’t look beyond their bags of wafers Naisha won’t stop posing
IT’S FAKE: Naisha picked up this cap with hair attachemnets and was just too thrilled

I’M SO BRAVE: But that’s just a front. When we asked Hrit if he wanted to have a go he held the gun in one hand and shut his ear with the other. Only after many tries could he get the hang of it.
The weather was great.. cool and cloudy. The last night of our visit we had a hailstorm for a super finale to the complete happiness of the kids.
That’s it till next year.. can’t wait for May.

In Lucknow

In Lucknow

This is one post I should have done as soon as I got back from my vacation but what with the sister coming back with me and the kids’ birthday… it had to be put off.

After Lucknow’s dusty story I stepped out to the main shopping area, or maybe I should say the erstwhile main shopping area, Hazaratganj and Wow what a pleasant surprise. It is indeed new and oh so improved. Cleared of vehicles the roads look like a runway, shops have uniform sign boards, green patches, tiny fountains, awesome. There’s hope still. Lucknow will always be special.

Given that almost a month has passed since I got back I find it easier to let these pictures do the talking.
Bear with the longish captions please..

STUNTMAN: If you haven’t guessed already.. that’s from
the torturous train journey.
Hrit provided edge-of-the-seat excitement with stunts
such as this one and was the nightmare for all tea/snack-vendors

TWO’S COMPANY: When Naisha refused juice he sorted it out for us by having both of them, simultaneously

DRAWING CLASS: That’s one of Hrit’s ‘boy friends’..
only it turned out she was a she 🙂
 Naisha found a friend in the neighbouring compartment which left Hrit alone in the ‘boys’ team’. And so he went around the entire coach looking out for boy-friends. Finally he found enough of them to make his team bigger (one of who happened to be a girl). So there I was almost running a drawing class in the train for lack of any other way to keep the bunch of them occupied.


THE BOOTY: To say that the SIL loves Naturals ice cream would be an understatement. So passionate were her appeals to The Husband and so heart-rending her tales of deprivation (since Naturals doesn’t have an outlet in Lucknow) that he got about ten tubs packed in dry-ice so we could carry it through the 24-hour journey. And doesn’t she look thrilled?


BREAKFAST AT LUCKNOW: Ever tried bread-jam and mangoes for breakfast?

TRIAL ROOM: Chaniya Choli gifted by nanima being tried on


HAND ART: Naisha’s first proper mehendi ever

IPL ATTACK: The nephews, specially this younger one, is an aspiring Malinga.
Here he is with Naisha’s fake hair for the perfect look.
He has for long debated ‘Easy ways to get rich’. The two he shortlisted were to ‘star in a film’ or to ‘play the world cup’. The first option was discarded because it had too many people involved and any mess up by any one could be the end of his dream. And so that left the second option. If I may quote ‘sirf ball ki dhulayi karni hai’. What’s better, reasoned he, by the time he grew up Malinga would be too old to really trouble him.. so the Cup is ours.


SARTORIAL WONDER: If Nanima got new clothes for Naisha
she couldn’t leave out Shanti, could she?
Here she is cornered by Naisha into stitching up new clothes for her doll. Of course Mowgli got new clothes too.


CARD GAMES: Then it was Dadima’s turn to keep Naisha occupied with a card game.


FURSAT KE RAAT DIN: Though the husband was there for just a few days he made the most of them. Here he is chopping up some watermelon while the older nephew bites in

BONDING: Hrit, Naisha play the hoop with their cousin


MORE BONDING: Apparently that’s how boys bond.

MASI GYAN: This is something I could never do and so the masi took up the task of imparting
this crucial skill to Naisha. Take a guess..
… that’s right.. she’s teaching Naisha to whistle.
Now you know why masi is such a hit with the kids

POTTED: And finally these two pics are of a roadside shop that completely fascinates me.
I guess it’s all about the colors. Love it

So which one’s your favourite?

Next up.. Nainital pics.
Shaame Awadh ….

Shaame Awadh ….

….is just not the same this time round. Oh no I’m not going to start off on how Lucknow used to be this wonderful place and how it has changed for the worse. I’m really not one of those who leave their hometown only to come back periodically to criticize it.. uff the heat.. uff the crowd.. uff the narrow roads.. uff no roadsense at all.

No no.. that’s not me. However this time round the famous Awadh evenings bear a jaundiced look. Lucknow is crazily dusty. The entire city seems to have been dug up for laying some huge sewer lines. Mammoth pits follow you everywhere, flanked by yellow mountains of mud. The hot May breeze blows the mud into your hair, in your mouth and everywhere else it can possibly get to. One half of the roads has been left for the commuters. Give over some more space to vehicle parking and you’re left with a veritable strip.

‘Sawadhan’ that’s the catch word
Didn’t I say yellow was the predominant colour?

That’s right on the road

Scary, isn’t it?

The two-wheelers climb onto pavements wherever they can, leaving the pedestrians to manage the best they can. A ride on cycle rickshaws, which, by the way, are a huge favourite with the kids, can be safely classified as adventure tourism. The two wheels are never on level ground and you’re left clutching the rickshaw for dear life. If the kids are with you and you have some shopping to hold onto as well remember to carry a few extra pair of hands.

The kids are of course kicked beyond happiness. The ups and downs thrill them no end drawing shrieks of delight at every bump. I’ve had to contend with enough curious/annoyed looks from passers-by who, distracted by the kids’ glee, find themselves stumbling.

In any case our forays outside the house have been severely limited because the kids have decided to fall ill by turns. It seems like they’ve taken it upon themselves to keep me in character, making sure I don’t forget for a moment that I’m an OM. No heading out to those gorgeous shops piled with Lakhnawis, no handing over the kids to the myriad nanis and dadis, no being the dutiful daughter/DIL. They cling to me like glue during the day and keep me awake at night. Sigh!

The good news is that finally now they’re on the mend and I’m ready to step out and step out big. We’re planning this rather ambitious four-day visit to Nainital with an entourage of over 15 uncles and cousins. Keeping fingers crossed.

The real holiday begins

The real holiday begins

I’m off to Lucknow. After two-months of waiting the tickets cleared finally. Thank You, whoever you are, for cancelling your reservation and making way for us.

Really this is such a huge perk of being a SAHM. Never in all my years of working could I afford a one-month holiday. Of course I carry my work with me but it’s definitely lighter what with dadu, nanu, nanima, dadima, masi, mamas, tai, tauji and a pack of cousins to share the kids.

I’m not the only one busy what with the packing and informing the milkman and the maids, the kids have been busy too..
Naisha’s been in a tizzy making a card for masi, the two of them being members of the MAS (mutual admiration society). The card features Chhutki of Chhota Bheem fame. The great endeavour was considered important enough for her to call up masi in the middle of it all to ask for her favourite colour so it could be incorporated in the master piece. Then she asked me for an ‘envelon’ and promptly coloured that too. Naisha certainly doesn’t believe in doing things by halves. Then of course sticking to the womanly stereotype of not being capable of keeping a secret she had to call masi again and tell her that she had a ‘prize’ for her (I still haven’t been able to explain the difference between prize and surprise to her).
Hrit got all excited and wanted to make something too though he couldn’t figure out for whom. He was however sure he wanted to make it only for a boy. He finally settled for Nanu.. choosing him over his cousins and Dadu. I hope Nanu is gratified enough at this honour and the others are not overly disappointed. He drew some colourful fishes in an equally colourful ocean.
Doesn’t it resemble Hussain’s work?
And here’s what happened when we tried to impart some ‘gyan’ to Hrit…

Hrit: may I have an ice-candy
Me: Not now. I don’t want you to fall ill because we’re going to Lucknow
Hrit: Why? Don’t they have doctors in Lucknow.

The Husband: Be good when you’re there. If anyone troubles dadima, nanima, dadu or nanu they’ll be put on a train and sent away.
Hrit: Where will they be sent?
TH: You can go where ever you want to.
Hrit (Thinking hard): I think I’d like to go to Bombay.

The only catch in my happiness.. the day long train journey. Beware all you co-passengers the twins are on their way.

On the way to Gir

On the way to Gir

Finally, finally I can start writing about the Gir trip. Because of the whole thing being a last minute plan we had to take a train from Mumbai to Rajkot and then proceed to the Mahindra Resort at Sasan Gir by road. We reached Bombay station a good two hours before our departure.
When we had moved from Bombay last year, we left behind some very very good friends, one of whom braved the crowded railway station and the sweltering Mumbai heat to spend some time with us at the platform.
The reunion
Waiting for the train was never so much fun
The dear friend arrived with her son and her mom. The son is the twin’s absolute chuddi buddy and his arrival created much excitement. In an unabashed show of affection the boys fought to outshout each other with ear-splitting screams — apparently that’s the way guys profess undying friendship. The daughter did the shy act, hiding behind The Husband till she was coaxed out to join in the shouting, which she soon did with gusto. They then proceeded to exchange valuable information like teaching each other how to make Chinese eyes and trading complex dance steps. Forgive me for the picture quality but the kids were on the move and I just had my phone handy.
That’s how you make Chinese eyes
Check out this cool move
Even after almost an hour the excitement refused to die down. The imminent danger of being ostracized by the other passengers at the station roused us from our own gossip-party. The poor passengers had had their feet stamped umpteen times, their luggage examined and their seats taken up by the young chimps and were beginning to tire of the constant ‘excuse mes’ and ‘sorrys’. We decided it was time to break the party. After many hugs and flying kisses the pals said au revoir.
We loved the train…
Now onto the second happy surprise of the trip. Either I’ve been out of the Railway circuit for a long time or Mamta didi has waved a magic wand. The train seemed like a miracle. For starters it was clean. Barely had we settled down when a young man entered with a broom and cleaned away the non-existent garbage. After a while he appeared with a bottle of Colin and a cleaning cloth to wipe the mirror. The loo was dry and clean. There was a hand shower no dirty-mug-with-a-chain and even a clean tissue roll and liquid soap. Wow. Cheers to progress.
… and so did the kids
Upside down in the train
… for completely different reasons of course. They climbed up and down the berths shouting chai chai, pulled the curtains shut to make their own ‘homes’ and hosted parties for their ‘children’ (Naisha’s Shanti and Hrit’s Mowgli were obviously traveling with us) while we watched with baited breaths waiting for a mishap. Our wait was rewarded by not one but three of them.. three mishaps, I mean. Thrice Hrit fell off the top berth.. twice on his way down and once right from the top. Thankfully he fell on his bum which took the repeated bashing pretty well. The kids weren’t much trouble really. They kept each other busy, were not too noisy (that, I must confess, is a completely subjective observation) and didn’t really bother the other passengers (again, subjective).
We reached Rajkot by 10 am and proceeded to Gir by a taxi. And now as Karan Johar would say, “Hold that thought. I am going into a break”. Baki ki kahani when we get back.
On a happy note, the evil eye has finally lifted from our home and both children are well. As I saw them off on the school bus and waved till it was out of sight (the few perks of being a SAHM) I sent up a thank you prayer for the return of normalcy. I celebrated by putting off all my chores and spending the precious hours watching Once Upon a Time in Mumbai. Yes I know it’s an old one.. but I’ve got used to watching films much after their sell-by date. And once upon a time I was a first-day-first-show girl. *sigh*.

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