Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A trip (Phase-I Bangalore to Belgaum)

थोडी देर तो हो गयी। पर देर आए दुरुस्त आए।

I am bit late. A little bit only. Agreed that it is not by minutes...not even by hours or even days...only three or four months. But I really believe that it's better late than never (sorry for the cliché). But i am sure you will forgive me. After all I am solely relying on your benevolence to overlook this fault of mine.

So let me cut all this crap and directly jump to the real story or rather the travelogue.

During Feb-March Manish, better known as Mani, had informally extended an invitation to me and the lukhha gang to attend his marriage ceremony. A kind soul that he is, he had chalked out a tentative itinerary too, what with all the paraphernalia associated with a trip...what to see, what to do and the biggest of all, the mode of travel during the entire trip.

The moment I saw the invitation I knew I was going. And I found in Mukul and Sourabh the guys who shared my thoughts. Since May day holiday was around that period we wanted to make proper use of the holiday to cover Pune, Nashik, Shirdi as well during the extended weekend. The preparations began is right earnest. First and foremost, how and where? Well I do not consider myself a meticulous planner but try we must. After all a good trip depends on good planning. The execution rests on Gods will. And I did try to have a good plan ready.

The first and compulsory start point was Belgaum. After all we were going to attend Mani's marriage. But with due apologies to dear Mani, by the end of the trip the catalyst (the marriage ceremony) became the shortest event in the travelogue. An ideal catalyst...what say?

Before buying the tickets we decided on a tentative schedule. Mukul had already purchased the ticket along with Boss. So I and Sourabh also decided to buy our own ASAP. I left it to Sourabh to make the purchase And what a 'purchase' that was. Well, on hind site I should be thankful that he did not buy a AC First Class ticket. It was decided that except for the return ticket all else will be purchased in-situ i.e at the time of journey.

Now we started planning for the trip. Sourabh wanted to minimize the travel, specially bus journeys. We also wanted to optimally utilize our time. Keeping all this in mind we arrived at the itinerary as captured the pic.

Although the itinerary looks hectic but we had tried to keep the journeys only during the night. We wanted the most comfortable journey for us in general and Sourabh in particular.

Day Start Time(hrs) Src Dest
30-04-2008 2100 Belgaum Pune
01-05-2008-Pune Halt
01-05-20082000Pune Shirdi
02-05-2008 1400ShirdiNasik
Nasik halt
03-05-2008 0700
03-05-2008 1100
03-05-2008 2000

Amidst lots of hungama finally the day of journey arrived. I reached office all excited. After all this is going to be my first ever outing with friends. But I had no idea what awaited me in the office.

Sourabh called me and with a grim face gave me the grimmer news that he will not be able to accompany us for the trip. Suddenly I went blank, all the planing, the ruckus, the excitement coming to naught, and for no fault of mine. Let me explain to you the reason behind my distress. As you may be aware IRCTC has (actually had) a rule regarding e-tickets. The primary ticket holder (whose ID is given during the reservation), if he cancels his ticket, the whole ticket stands canceled. And in this case Sourabh was the primary ticket holder.

I was aghast. Is it a joke or God is playing a game? But if it is a game then I am equally game for it. No point being angry; solution was needed and fast. But thankfully I was not the only one going through this predicament. Another group was in a similar dilemma (and I added to it...if not part of the solution part of the problem atleast etc. etc.). The only option I could see was a bus ticket. If it's gonna be a bus journey then be it. Any way Hrishi (aka Pahadiram) was going by bus only. But before reaching any decision I had to make a call. Rajani was up to it. She called Railway enquiry just to make sure... and, maybe seeing my determination, IR in the meanwhile had changed their rule. What a relief, a relief equaled only by the...well forget it. I immediately changed the ticket and got a new e-ticket.

How much work was accomplished that day...well do I need to tell that?

In the evening I started early from office, reached room, and started for the station. Black clouds were gathering in the horizon, the sky was gettign darker by the minute. And by the time I reached the bus stand it started drizzling. Kiran Lokhande (aka Loku) was waiting for me there. We took an auto-rick and started for the station. Negotiating the rain and a break down of the rickshaw finally we reached the station. But other group was conspicuous by its absence. And with 10 minutes for the train to start they arrived all huffing and puffing. We boarded the train and the journey began. After some light refreshment we sat down to gather some breath, and in the process left other passengers breathless, and all angry.

Till one am we continued our Antakshari, dumb charade and what not. Everybody contributed.
Finally all exhausted we moved to our respective berths. I went to 3-Tier along with Navdeep (aka Bhola) and Ram . If you remember, I had a booking in 2-tier AC, but I being a thorough gentleman exchanged my berth with Rajani.

The train reached Belgaum on time. Nothing else worth narrating happened during the journey except for the display of "holier than thou" attitude of TTE, who asked us not to play Go-card. Pahadiram was there along with Mani's would be brother-in-law to receive us. We started for the venue in right earnest. There we had our breakfast.

The weather in Belgaum was pleasant, much like Bangalore. The place still holds that rustic feeling that is all lost in Bangalore, more like a bud that is all set to bloom into a flower but is still thinking if it really wants that.

The accommodation was in a government guest house. It was almost 9 in the morning when we reached there. The guys moved to one big dorm type room and the mademoiselles moved to adjacent room. We leisurely freshened up and then dressed up. Then another half an hour was spent for photo session. It was time for us to start for the venue. We got up from the self induced torpor to start, no not for the venue--far from it- but to wait for the Mlles' to come out of their room. After waiting for what seemed eternity they finally came out. Looking at them we realized that we are here to attend a marriage ceremony. I won't spend any time or effort describing it.

It was getting hot outside so the eves boarded an auto-rickshaw. We walked. The wedding hall was wonderfully decorated. Mani was all decked up in traditional attire eagerly waiting for his bride to enter the venue and consequently his life.

I made sure I did not miss anything going on in the Vivah Mandap. After around an hour or so we moved towards lunch tables. Special attention was bestowed on us...after all "हम बाराती जो ठहरे"।

Soumen had his almost one years quota of sweet (jalebi) served on his plate.
After a sumptuous meal, we bid adieu to the newly wed couple to move towards the guest house. After spending sometime inside the room, I got hold of Bhola and went out to explore the locality. I was walking a desolate, a rubble amidst a clean and neat town. The upheavals, the trepeditions going through my heart and my mind was unexplainable.

After 2-3 hours of loafing around we came back. I did not try to sleep, because it would have been meaningless.

After sometime we started preparing for the evening reception party. We reached there early and stayed for about 2 hours. We bade final good byes to Mani and his family and started for our second phase of the trip. Mukul and I had a bus to Pune at 9:30pm, the remaining members of the gang had return tickets to Bangalore at 9:00pm. BTW, our Pune bus reservation was also arranged for by Mani only.

We reached the bus stand on time. We had Uncle and Aunty along with us (They were Mani's former landlords), they were also going to Pune.

At 9:45pm we boarded the Volvo bus. I immediately pulled the quilts and with lots of anticipation, questions, excitement and anguish went to sleep.

We human beings have a common nature to turn a blind eye to things that we do not like to see. We overlook things that we find difficult to accept and surprisingly we can go to great lengths to avoid being confronted with the truth. With this I will rest my submission for the first and so unforgettable day.