The irony was palpable. Sitting in an air-conditioned room, eyes glued to a large screen LED TV fitted with Firestick, and watching Malgudi Days being played on Amazon Prime. Even otherwise reticent A couldn’t help being amused at the presence of technology all around that took him back in time (almost three decades) to be part of 10-year-old Swami’s life and his struggles. Nostalgia engulfed the air in the room. Emotions overflowed. Scenes from childhood emerged right in front of A’s eyes. He turned around the head again to acknowledge the magnitude of the reality that was slowly sinking in. Digital era had brought him closer to memories of Doordarshan era when entertainment was way different. When life was way simpler. When we were kids and our entire entertainment world was wrapped around Doordarshan. When there were no repeat telecasts. Today, watching Malgudi Days on TV brought back a sea of long-forgotten memories of an era gone by. Technology begets nostalgia. The irony was palpable.
Last leg of Mumbai travel was one of the best experiences of my life filled with contrasting explorations. It started with roaming around Bandra and Juhu in an auto, watching a play at the Prithvi theatre and culminating it with an evening at the iconic Taj. Let us begin with the day when sis and I decided to see Mumbai in auto leaving parents at home. We started with Mount Mary Church in Bandra which was beautiful and serene. The silence was peculiar to the one experienced in almost all churches where you can hear even your breath’s pace.
From there, we decided to hire an auto and move around Bandra and Juhu for some real hands-on Mumbai feel. We were fortunate to come across a very interesting auto guy who said, “Madam, pay me Rs 250 and I will show you the houses of all your favourite stars. I visit their houses every day.” We hopped into the auto happily not knowing at that time that it would be one of the best explorations of our lives. We stopped at every filmstar’s house, posed, grinned, blushed (at the embarrassment of our acts) and just had pure fun. Here is the proof of my typical middle class Indian fan girl moments, visiting Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan and my all time favourite Sachin Tendulkar’s houses.
Above pictures are only some of the samples of my posing spree. We passed through every Bollywood star’s house that you can imagine. “Madam, Jeetendra ka bungla sab se acha hai,” was the verdict of this very interesting auto man. We glanced dumbstruck and awestruck at residences of Amitabh Bachchan, Anil Kapoor, Raveena Tandon, Red Chillies Office, Jeetendra and many others. We stopped for a while at the Juhu beach too.
Finally we landed at the Prithvi Theatre in an auto and said our goodbyes and thanks to the driver. We had booked a show and still had some time to kill. So decided to go for a nosch at a beautiful cafe near the theatre. With full stomach and satisfied souls after a cup of coffee and sandwiches, we went to the Prithvi theatre for another satiating experience. The theatre premises was filled with passionate performances and an enthusiasm that was hard to skip. It was nostalgic to come across the actors from my childhood whom I had watched on TV, Doordarshan to be specific.
The last stop of the day was at Juhu beach enriched with dusk time, nature, sea and good life. Enjoyed street food at Chowpatty and happily returned home with a bag of lifetime memories and experiences.
The next day was a neatly planned one with parents. Visited the iconic Taj for an evening tea watching the Gateway of India standing tall as the dusk dawned and the whole world indeed seemed like a stage. The time stood still for me. It was my long long long cherished dream to spend an evening at the Taj sipping tea. And I don’t know why but the magic that tea brings into a moment can never be experienced with food. One of my longest held dream came true that evening at the Taj in the company of my parents and sister. For a moment, I just closed my eyes and internalised the whole thing to take with me.
So this is how Mumbai, the city of dreams, fulfilled my dreams of a perfect holiday and life-altering travel experiences inundated with family and friends. As I wind up sharing my experiences with you, all I am left with is a deep sense of gratitude and peace that hovers around when some of our dreams come true.
Khandala and Lonavala were a disappointment chiefly because I visited there in the peak of summers. And when I say disappointment it means for me. The place may excite other travellers abound but since I can speak only for myself, it failed to excite me. They are monsoon destinations I believe. The fun might lie in seeing the mist and experiencing subtle winters in Mumbai, which we north Indians experience aplenty already. Still we managed to enjoy the best we could.
Had booked a resort for the weekend which was a nice place to unwind. It had a fair amount of greenery and the only greenery I saw during my whole trip. We reached there on Saturday and decided to stay in the resort for the evening, which was quite musical by the way. The speakers were set in full volume in the lawns and the guests (including me) danced to groovy music sipping the drinks of their choice and enjoying snacks. Spent some beautiful moments strolling around watching the dusk settling in, chatting and whiling away time. During our two-day stay, we ordered room service, relished ‘chai and charhca’ and visited local stalls for packed foods that had some interesting edibles to offer.
But that was it. The touristy exploration was a let-down. As first-time visitors, we were given a list of nine tourist places. It began with Laxmi-Narayan temple. Parents were happy to start with an auspicious place as always and I was like “temple here too”? Anyways, so began our journey that would prove to be a nightmare pain. The temple was beautiful but closed when we reached. We roamed around the premises and clicked pictures. The stairs, as seen in the picture below, lead to the main temple.
Next on the list was Sunil’s wax museum. We were hesitant to go and dad outrightly refused to be a part of it. I insisted saying what’s the harm in having a bad experience together though later it proved to be the only fun we had that day. The wax statues were admirable. We had our tiny winy kiddish bit of entertainment getting pictures clicked.
Next destination was the Lion’s Point. Open breezy space and beautiful peaks. Again because of the weather, the place felt short of the scenic charms I had seen in Kausali, Shimla, Nainital, etc. Though comparisons are not healthy but I am doing so just to give an idea to others planning to visit the place.
Lion’s Point will be long remembered because it was here that I forgot my bag. My bag containing cash, cards and many id proofs. I realised I have lost it on reaching Bhushi Dam, our next destination. My throat dried and the heart started pounding. I immediately rushed back which took us good 25 minutes. The drive back was fraught with anxiety. Much to my relief and sister’s grin, I found it at exactly the same table where I had left. Normalcy returned and again affirmed my belief to take nothing for granted in life.
Bhushi Dam was okay but the experience made me laugh at myself. To reach there we had to hike 20 minutes of not-so-deep stretches and stairs. We decided to leave mom dad at the base and let the sisters do the marching in scorching sun, fighting and laughing all the way up and down. The view was something like this.
After such a long day, we wanted to tick mark all the designated spots just for the formality. We had found nothing great as yet and were hungry too. It was hard to find good places for snacks or lunch. Our next stop was the Monkey Point. While entering there we had second thoughts on covering the full area. It made no sense to traverse the ill-maintained park just to see some monkeys. There was litter all around. We hurriedly had a look and ran back.
Last stop was the Sunset Point. With heat, crowd, unhygienic surroundings and growing hunger pangs, we decided to skip the Sunset Point and head back to the resort. We had left right after breakfast and managed to get only Limca and mangoes (called Carrie) in between. Reached the resort around 7 pm, had some tea-sandwiches and finally felt at home. On Monday, we headed back to Mumbai. Midway, met my cousin and her family after 10 years.
It is in moments like these when you realise how life just passes by. The clock keeps ticking whether we are aware or not. My cousin and I are an year apart. We grew up together, had sleepovers at each other’s place when we were young, learnt cooking skills from our mothers around the same time and got scolded for being careless teenagers. In later years, we used to commute daily back and forth from Ambala-Chandigarh to our workplaces via train. We had a huge friend circle of girls who boarded the same train every day. Very much like the Mumbai local. Today, we met after a decade. A lot had happened in between.
So, that’s how my Khandala trip ended on a bitter sweet experience. In my next travel post, I will culminate the series winding up my travails. You have one more boring post in the offing but with the most interesting part, driving around Juhu and Bandra in an auto and an evening at the iconic Taj. The best experience so far. All in next travel post.
There is a joke in the family. The B+ joke. Father and I both share B+ blood group, and are very similar in our habits. The way we sit, the way we form postures, the way we form a pattern in the air with our hands while thinking, and the way we place our hands behind our head while watching TV. We both are bit casual in our approach towards life, flexible in our attitude, and rigid in our actions. We do what we have to do even when the whole world says otherwise. We forget easily, never keep anything in heart for long. We both are mostly at the receiving end for our callousness and carelessness. We laugh at our follies and are capable of not taking ourselves too seriously. With age, I have started to look like him too.
I may not love all my personality traits but am proud of them for the simple fact that they come from him. They make me similar to him. That’s a different point that I have imbibed most of the not-so-worthy traits and am yet to show any signs of his strong Leo side. He’s an avid reader, I usually languish. He is an epitome of generosity, I am nowhere near. He can talk for hours, I can stay silent for hours. He is extremely social, I am sort of an ambivert. He has a huge circle of friends, I can count mine on fingers.
The B+ bond is my strength in life just the way it is for you all with your dads. Happy Father’s Day to Dad, Dada, Paa, Pitaji, Pops, Baba, Abba or whatever you call your father lovingly.
For me, it is always Papa! His mobile number has been saved as ‘Pyare Papa’ in my mobile ever since I have owned a phone. And his is the only number I dial till date whenever I reach the bus stand of my hometown in Ambala to say, “Papa, I am about to reach home.” And he is always there to welcome with front gates wide open for the car to enter without stopping, along with his big welcoming heart.
After spending the first day in Mumbai making beautiful memories and experiencing myriad colours of life, the second day was a home-stay. We had balanced out the itinerary by interspersing some rest time in between exploring the city. It is a different matter that stay-at-home days were not entirely within the four walls. Adjacent to sister’s home were two malls, Infinity and Inorbit, which became sort of my second home. Jump out of bed and hop into a world of flashy showrooms, big brands, window shopping and cafes. Ironically, evening walks lead dad and me straight to food courts to explore eating options, which proved to be disappointing though.
One such evening at the mall was something like this, with a cousin adding to the family bonding time.
Another day, another mall adventure. It was a typical girls’ day out (with sister) where shopping topped the chart and some gifting options to be picked for friends and family back home.
The remaining time was spent binge watching movies and shows on Netflix with no care of the world. Food was ordered at least once a day, tea times became more frequent, and conversations came in abundance. Such days are rare and cherished. More than anything, it was the pleasure of seeing mom and dad having long stretches of free time on their platter. For the first time, super busy parents were bereft of household responsibilities, leaving them with a mix of emotions. Sometimes relieved, sometimes unproductive.
No care of the house, and the maids, and the maalis; no feeding the cows, and the sparrows, and the dogs; no supervision of house security, or locking main gates at night, no more tension of ensuring if the lights are off, the water motor is off, the switches are in order, the plumber needs to be called, etc, etc.
So what did they do? Binge watched “Zindagi Gulzaar hai” and loved it too. Parents, uninterrupted free time and binge watching, all three are antonyms. Just like the two ends of the sea they never meet. But parents nevertheless got introduced to the concept, which needless to say, was more of a compulsion for them than a choice. All I have seen them do is making sure life flows smoothly for everyone in the family. In these 15 days, sis and I made sure the tables turned for once and they got to experience the pleasure of good hospitality.
Next on the cards was a visit to Khandala, which was not what I had expected. Why? In the next travel post. Sleepy now. Good night. May you all nurture beautiful dreams and get to live your dream-life!
Birthday celebrations were an eclectic mix of rituals, blessings, solitude, togetherness, love, beauty and lesser degrees of Celsius in the scorching summer heat of May. A perfect pace for the life I aspire.
Birthday is an opportune time to sit back and evaluate. How well you are doing in this play of life. How much you have succeeded in adding your special touch to the precious gift of ‘Life’ bestowed upon you. A time to look back at how it all started, where it is going, and how it should be.
As the birthday nears, random thoughts start regurgitating in mind. The need to hold a pen and paper, and pour, gains momentum. This year, the blog has replaced my personal diary (which were many by the way). The birthday wish used to be a secret until I decided to blog again and include all of you in my life’s journey. So here I am, with a blank page opened in front of me waiting to be filled with the conversations I am having with myself.
Like each one of you, my life has been an amalgamation of the good and the bad. What has gone by is great for learning but futile to waste energy on. It can be used as a reference point though to assess the journey. Future, hopefully, will follow the same path as past, offering some sweet, some sour slices of life.
I am at a stage now where (idealistically speaking), I have reached a kind of an equilibrium in the years lived by and the years yet to come. When there is enough to look backwards and a lot to feel excited about for the years ahead.
The celebrations have already begun. A friend gifted this beautiful hanging and some indoor greens.
A small weekend getaway has been planned. Quality time with family is on the cards again, specially with A, who is setting new standards in getting busy with work.
How I am feeling: Happy, of course! And grateful, very grateful for this life and the way it has been laid out for me.
What I seek? Happiness & health for myself and everyone else, company of loved ones, and grace of God!
My (not-so-secret) b’day wish: The power to give and receive, good thoughts, good vibrations and good deeds. And a big heart to love!
As for the reflections on life, I will share some another time. Now, it is time to celebrate, with a road trip again. Leaving you with a glimpse of how the day began.