Travel has no real meaning without memories collected from experiences. This post as the name suggests, is on a very personal terms, where I try to recall and relive the memories gathered from various travels. Of course, while some were made with friends most were embarked upon with family. I do not wish to hinder the privacy of any person and thus the names are strictly withheld. But the memories which are shared by many would surely make them remember their part in it. This post is a rather different listicle than I have ever made till date; and I do so because most of us are on a verge of starting a new life- joining work, pursuing masters, maybe even getting married (who knows!). This may well be the last time before we hear of many until we meet in person years later.
So, let us begin!
1. I remember having gone to Shantiniketanwith school friends for a project. Though the project itself took us only three hours of field work (and God knows how many months of analysis and factory manufacturing of graphs later); the rest of the time was free to explore the place. The excitement of travelling with friends (maybe for the first and last time) started our day with some of us actually forgetting to bid goodbyes to our parents (me included).Upon reaching the place, all of us were most interested in taking in the air of a new place and enjoying a part of the authentic culture of West Bengal. We visited a park- played bowling, took some groupfies(the term wasn’t very popular then), and caught our teacher lying flat on the grass trying to capture some insect which had camouflaged itself in the grass. The next morning a dear friend was greeted by a monkey and I, well saw someone rather good looking outside my window. Well, I cannot miss out on the great food that we had especially snacks (at least I had never had such tasty veg pakodas in my life before and sadly never after too). The evenings were spent working on our project, sharing ghost stories and one distinct night we indulged in a sleepover. Most of us are in different parts of India today, but I am sure that these memories of our trip together (and also a promise to have a reunion ten years later in 2021) would always bind us with an invisible chord.
2. Mandarmani has been covered at large in the blog previously, but here are some more tit-bits which actually made the trip so interesting. This trip was made immediately after my higher secondary examinations and involved my family members. We had a quite uneventful journey except some constant blabbering from the driver regarding the choice of songs that I played on the mobile phone. Our first day spent in the beach passed quickly. We admired the beauty of the place. My grandmother started talking to the people of the hotel. We found out the timings when there would be no electricity and planned to leave for sightseeing during those times. I also spotted a couple (maybe honeymooning, who knows) wearing matching clothes at all times. Evening came, and our super smart driver instead of taking us to the local shops drove us straight to the fish market and got the tyres stuck in a quicksand! The rest of the evening was spent in telephoning the reception to fix our AC till both we and they got equally irritated of it and replaced it altogether. Oh and I missed the shell collecting part! The next day saw my uncle hastily entering our room while my aunt and I were playing (cards probably) to say that he had been calling my aunt many a times but she had not picked up. She replied calmly that the phone was on silent mode and thereafter he left. I spoke aloud just then that he actually did not say the purpose with which he was calling though he came and asked why she did not pick up the phone! That apart there were no memorable incidents and after a two night stay we reached home safely and I was indeed happy with the trip and to get rid of the fidgety driver.
3. The first time I went to Delhi was in 2009 and I fell in love with the place. The ambience is such that every nook and corner of the city reminds you of an era of royalty. Our first destination was the Rajghatwhere I almost burnt my feet. The second was the Red Fort where I almost fell down in the moat below. It is said that in the Mughal era, the moat was filled with crocodiles .I thanked my lucky stars that I did not fall on a moat full of crocs! Let me also hint, that this isn’t the first and last time I was about to fall on a moat. Looks like I have a magnetic pull towards moats of all forts. The usual sightseeing followed with Lotus Temple, Street Shopping, Birla Temple, Humayun’s Tomb and Qutub Minar. I distinctly remember the name of the hotel we had lunch in –Art Chillies. Delhi Haat was reserved for some shopping. In fact we had such a friendly driver this time, that he actually influenced us to change our train schedule to Mussoorie, the next day to another road trip to the place. (But it was not altogether a bad idea!)
4. My visit to Mussoorie deserves special mention. I was practically dragged out of bed- a groggy eyed me – at 3:30 am by my mother. All of us were up and ready by 6 am. It was to be a long trip and we were to start as early as possible. But we got delayed. Apparently, the driver was not informed that we were to reach Mussoorieand so he backed out. But, the hotel staffs were cordial enough to get hold of another chap who took us. We stopped for breakfast at nine at a place in the highway (the name of the inn quite evades me) but I never knew highway food could be so tasty. We resumed our journey through sugarcane fields, a very rocky stretch of road near Ghaziabadand lastly hit the mountains. We stopped for lunch at the foothills and then continued. On our way back a day later we proceeded towards Haridwar before going back to Delhi.
5. My next trip to Delhi (2014) was just a stopover to check on a relative and then proceed towards Agra the very same day. But, the day happened to be the oath taking ceremony of PM Narendra Modi. Delhiwas jam packed and so we were diverted to Jaipur for a halt till the Delhiairport got cleared. We were already delayed by a long time. Nevertheless, we resumed our journey checked on our relative and proceeded towards Agra. The next morning finally ended my patience of 19 years to look upon the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort (where I was about to fall in the moat again !). The evening was reserved for shopping. But Agra is an expensive place. The handicrafts are best to look at for people like me. For those who know me, they might recall the fact that a baby donkey, which I was trying to photograph, did not appear very polite and its push nearly wrecked my camera.
6. The same journey continued the day after to Jaipurstopping en- route to Fatehpur Sikhri and Salim Chisti. I had great fun riding a local shared auto which is quite different from the ones found in Kolkata. It is more colourful and spacious. Of course thereafter inside the monuments I burnt my feet . A little kid started stalking us inside Salim Chisti repeatedly saying that he would recite poetry for ten rupees. Finally after seeing the monument we heard his poetry, gave him some money and bid him goodbye.
7. Jaipur was my favourite amongst the lot. The feel of Rajasthan is something different and invokes in me an excitement that no other place has managed to invoke. Chouki Dhani a village resort is a must visit for those who haven’t seen it. That apart I visited the usual places. The best part of the place was our hotel. It was built on the upper storeys of a shopping mall. The food was nothing less than that of 5 star hotels. The only thorn in the entire trip was the return journey when our Kolkata bound plane got delayed by almost six hours .
8. Asansol was my last family trip taken in December 2014. This trip also had our neighbours join in. Actually, it was on the insistence of my friend and me that our parents took this short journey. The first blow was when my father’s flight got delayed and we had to shift the entire schedule by a day. We were to start early in the morning but got delayed because I slept on. I was woken up by my friend at 5 am but then I got back to sleep and was late by almost an hour. We visited Maithon and Kalyaneshwari Temple. The next day just as we were about to start our journey – the car broke down. It took around an hour to get it fixed. We saw Panchet and so excited were we to reach our next destination that we forgot all about lunch. At nearly 2 pm we remembered , abandoned our destination , started food hunting and got something to eat nearly an hour later. The rest of the journey was quite smooth and on our way home we stopped at Saktigarh to buy Langchas –which are my favourite sweets. The days ahead were filled with my examination and were quite boring.
This post is probably the longest I have ever written but what is the fun of reiterating memories if not explained in details? Keep following for more such experiences, memories and travel accounts.