Monday, March 15, 2010

Rendezvous - 1

She couldn't stop the shaking. Her hands. Numb with the cold, with the rain. And fear. Fear like she had never known before. She had to stop herself shaking, else it would only be a matter of time before someone from behind would honk like they always dids in this part of the country. Delhi road rage was as famous as Qutub Minar. Well, not that famous, but you get the picture. And the other thing that was well known was the fact that it was one of the most unsafe cities for women in India. That thought spurned her into action. She started the ignition and gripped the wheel hard so that her hands would stop shaking. Lucky for her, she had worn her heeled slippers. Stepping on the gas would be much easier. She tried to think as she slowly waded through the rain into the crowded Connaught circle. Thankfully, she didn't have to concentrate on the route as she knew this part of the city very well. Think, think, Rashi. What am I to do now, she kept asking herself. You brought this on yourself, a quiet voice in her head said. "I know that", she spat out aloud. She was now angry with herself. Fear always brought that out in her. Fear meant that someone somewhere was responsible for something bad that had happened. And that someone deserved her wrath. And this time, it was targeted at herself. Why, why, why did I get myself entangled with that man. This was the 100th time she had asked this since 4:00 PM. Ever since he has smiled into her face, his eyes twinkling with glee. He knew what had passed through her mind at that moment. It was almost as if he could smell her fear. And the smile had slowly turned into a snarl. That had been enough to send her flying out of the cafe into the open parking lot. No need to worry, she had told herself. He can't do a thing to me right here, with so many people around. But it wasn't the things he would do now that worried her. It was what he had already done that needed thinking about. And what he had promised he would do, soon..very soon.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Ramblings...part 1

It's been almost 2 years since I updated my blog and I have been accused by near and dear ones of being lazy and inactive. I am guilty on all counts, of course. So here I am trying to prove that I still have it in me to write a few words. But at the same time, I am suffering from what can only be called a blogger's block. What do I write about? Some suggestions from the spouse are -
1) Our son Vivaan: Yes, it seems like an awesome topic. I can gush about how adorable he is, how much he amazes me each day with his activities, what his latest exploits are. But right now I am not able to find words to write about it. This will have to be a topic on some other day.
2) Our recent vists to Rajasthan and Agra: The sisters had flown down to India for the express purpose of spending some time with Vivaan and lavishing some TLC on the darling. To make matters interesting, we decided to go travelling to some of the well known tourist attractions in the nearby states Rajasthan and UP.

Our first visit was to Udaipur. It was the first time we were going to a trip with Vivaan, and I was tres excited, to say the least. Of course there were some initial misgivings about how much we would really accomplish in terms of sight-seeing with a 10 month old infant, but the fact that my parents were also acompanying us on the trip made a huge huge difference to my confidence as a mother and caretaker. As is often the case, the little one is the apple of my parents' eyes. To use a hindi phrase, Mom and Dad Vivaan par jaan jhidakte hain. He has them eating out of his soft pudgy hands at the slightest wimper.

Coming back to Udaipur, folks, it is home to one of the most expensive hotels in the world, The Taj Lake Palace, and every other hotel/guest house is located in such a way as to provide a view of the island hotel. It is beautiful no doubt, but the lake is so badly maintained that I think Bengeluru's Ulsoor lake looks much better minus the Taj Hotel.
We stayed in a very popular hotel called "The Tiger". It is owned by a German who has made India his home. The rooms were clean and very well kept, the service was excellant. And best of all, it is very reasonably priced. More information can be obtained from Trip Advisor which rates it very highly. I also strongly recommend it. The only negative point would be that there is no lift, so if you are travelling with someone who has a problem climbing stairs, it's not the best place to stay in. But you can always request for a room on the first floor, just like we did. We visited the following places -
The city palace It is certainly one of the most beautiful palaces that I have seen. Bollywood trivia is that Raveena Tandon had her wedding reception in the courtyard of this palace.

Vintage Car Museum I didn't personally visit this one, having never been interested in automobiles, but dear husband did pay a visit and he was duly impressed. Apparently you can rent any one of those babies for a day for a small prize of a lakh ruppees!!
Chittorgarh This is 2 hours drive away from Udaipur and is an absolute must-see location. We saw the Victory Tower, the palaces of Rana Kumbh, Rani Padmini, Meera Bai's Temple, etc. Our tour guide droned on and on about how Alluddin Khilji never did see Rani Padmini, because she would never have suffered such dishonour. However, I prefer the more popular legend, of how the Moghul warrior on just seeing the reflection of Padmini, was so smitten that he decided to attack Chittor. So very romantic...

Bagore ki Haveli The Sound and light show at Bagore ki Haveli ,which is right beside The Tiger was enthralling. Women wearing beautiful, traditional clothes of the region danced to some folk music. There was also a puppet show which immediately reminded me of the picturization of the song "Phir Raat Kati" in the film "Paheli". Now SRK tied to puppet strings doesn't exactly evoke a very Rajasthani image in my mind....

There is a lot more to see and do in Udaipur, for example , the Jag Mandir Island, but this was all that we achieved in our 4 days stay there. There are a few constraints when travelling with an infant, as I discovered. Before I forget, one of the highlights was the food. We had visited a resort in the outskirts of the city called "Aapni Dhani" which translated means, our village. They served very delicious and authentic rajasthani cuisine. We went to Sukhadia Circle late one night for eating the famous chaats. The result was that one of the siblings got infected with a bad stomach infection and had to pospone her return back to the US. So this is not recommened for those with a delicate digestive system.
A few weeks down the line, we made another trip. This time, it was a road trip. We had hired a vehicle which could seat about 10 people and tons of luggage. The first stop was Agra, the home of Taj Mahal. But more on this in another post.