My trip to India last Summer – Part I
I know summer is long gone and winter is upon us. But I had to tell the story of my trip to India. It is one of the trips that I will never forget and want to capture it in a written form somewhere.
It was the first time I was travelling all by myself from London to Mumbai and then there was some help for me to get from Mumbai to Sangamner – my home town. However, being on the plane all by yourself for the first time on a flight which is more than 7 hours long is a pretty scary experience. It was my first time not having either of my parents or my sister alongside me to accompany me on the flight. It was a great experience. Usually, on the flights, if you have someone you know alongside, you only talk to them. But being all by yourself you can talk to people around you and not have 7 and a bit hours of completely awkwardness. Having landed at the Mumbai Airport, everything went really smoothly. It was one of the best flight experiences I have had in my flying lifetime 😀
The journey from Mumbai to Sangamner was 7 more hours. My chachi (aunt) had come to pick me up at the airport to help me get from the airport to Sangamner. I don’t think I could have done the whole journey all by myself. It was one of the few times when I have been up for 24 hours or more. I just cannot sleep on the planes or the cars or the buses. I like to see what is around me, even at 32000 ft, I would rather be looking outside than sleeping in the plane seats. When I got home, I was greeted with some tasty Pav-Misal (an Indian dish). That made the whole journey of 24 hours worth it. It felt really great to be back home. Since my dad, mum and my sister were all in London, I had the say in what was being cooked and I asked my chachi to make me all my favourite dishes which I had missed in London. For 2 weeks, all that was made for lunch and dinner was something which I liked.
The second Sunday that I spent in India was my trip to Jawhar in the district of Thane. Jawhar is a small town located in the Western Ghats of India. It is a beautiful place for a day out. Since it was the monsoon season in India, everything around me was green. There was grass everywhere I looked. The mountain peaks were covered with greenery. It was a great sight and my first mini-trip in India was a great success. We had left for the trip early morning since the drive from Sangamner to Jawhar was pretty long. When we reached there, we met up with one of my baba’s (uncle, fufaji – we call him Baba) friends’ house and had a pretty nice lunch to greet us there. We spent the whole afternoon sightseeing around the town and seeing the Hanuman point, the sunset point, the old castle and a waterfall!. I had visited Jawhar back in 2006 but a lot had changed since then. And in 2006, I was pretty young to have a memory of what the place was like, so this time when I visited, all those memories came back to me pretty quickly. It was a great day out and I really enjoyed going there for the day. On our way back from Jawhar, we stopped over in Nashik to have some snacks such as Disco-Pani-Puri and Bhel. It was a great ending to a great day.
During the first two weeks that I was alone in Sangamner without my parents. My chachi and I both went to visit some of my chachi’s relatives who had lost someone in the floods of Uttarakhand. It was a pretty sad moment to hear such stories of people who had been washed away in the floods. My condolences go out to every one who lost someone in those floods. That day, I went for some shopping – didn’t find much – and then went to a restaurant to have some great meals. (I can’t remember what they were but they were great!)
The name Sangamner comes from two rivers meeting up with each other in this village and therefore Sangam – which means a merge of a river with another – and ner which means it is a village. In Sangamner, a lot of people get up early for morning walks near the banks of Pravara river so I decided to go too one day and it was one of the most quietest places you will find in the whole of Sangamner. A place where you are far away from any traffic that you won’t hear the constant beeping of the horns but not too far that you feel you are out of the village. The river had water flowing too (the dam had released some water just a few days before I visited) which made the walk even more enjoyable.
After my two weeks were complete, I had to go to my Nanaji’s (my mum’s dad) house to visit them and also to attend a wedding of my cousin (Masi’s son – Mum’s sister’s son). It was another 6-7 hours journey to get from Sangamner to Jalna. However, I stopped over at Aurangabad to meet up with some of my other cousins who then took me to Jalna in their cars. It was the first time I was visiting the newly built house. It was set up really well and had lots of facilities which were useful. I spent a few days staying in Jalna and catching up with my Nanaji, Naniji (Mum’s mum), Mamaji (Mum’s brother), Mamiji (Mamaji’s wife) and my cousins. As the days rolled on by, the wedding spirit was increasing and more of my cousins joined us. One of the days, two of my cousins were coming to Jalna from Hyderabad on trains and they were scheduled to arrive at 4AM in the morning. So me and a couple of my cousins went to pick them up at the train station and then from there went to a dhaba (a restaurant outside the city) and had some early morning Poha and Chai. It felt really great waking up so early in the morning and having such an early breakfast with quite a few of my cousins (yes, I have a lot of cousins ;))
As time went on, we were getting ready for the wedding. So we were being invited to my cousins place for lunch and planning out the wedding plans (for those who don’t know, Indian weddings are pretty long). It was great fun. All of us cousins got a lot of time together where we would just talk, play, tease each other. We also had to plan a dance two days before the actual Sangeet so me and 6 of the other cousins had planned out what people call a “lame dance”. I usually don’t dance but this type of dance was pretty different and I liked it so I did it. The steps were pretty easy to follow and the songs were pretty unique. (There is a video of it somewhere on the interwebz. Find it if you can 😉 I might post it in the near future :P). We all had great fun in setting up the song and making sure that it was funny as well. The wedding was set in Hyderabad and we were set to travel from Jalna to Hyderabad via train (atleast 12 hours on the train). On the day of travel, the first of many wedding lunches was set up where all I had was 12!!! gulabjamuns. After eating so many gulabjamun, I was hoping that I don’t get sick on the trains so tried my best to keep myself fit to eat more food later on in Hyderabad. Our train was scheduled for 11PM but as Indian railway usually is, it was 1 hour 20 minutes late. There were about 100 passengers (just the people going to the wedding) + luggage and the train would stop at the station for only 1 minute so we all the young’ens were given the task to load the luggage on board. It was a fun little task that was divided between all of us and it all went smoothly and since it was so late at night everyone fell asleep as soon as they got their berths.
Will continue this in part two… sometime next week 😛