It was last year that we kicked off this trend of a vacation within a vacation. We went off to Mukteshwar for a quiet off-the-beaten-track kind of holiday. This year it had to be Nainital, every North Indian tourists haunt.
Nainital holds a special place in our hearts. When we were kids and vacations were few and far between, we'd holidayed there with the cousins. Now 30 years later.. the memories are still fresh in our minds. The hot tehri (what Punekars call masala rice with vegetables) mummy made, the chilled rain that gave her a horrible allergy at Tiffin Top, the flimsy shelter under which we took refuge from that rain, the picture we clicked of my sister, a cousin and I posing as Gandhi ji's three monkeys, the walk over dried leaves down China Peak (now Naina Peak) singing Suhana Safar. Interesting, how I have little memory of the climb... it's just the walk down that has stayed. Guess good memories last longer than bad ones :-). The trip was unforgettable.
And so it was with a host of memories that we made our way to Nainital. While Mukteshwar has a special charm with it's long winding quiet roads and lush greenery Nainital is .. well to put it mildly... different. It's choc-a-bloc with tourists and then quite obviously offers every touristy thing one might want to do. There's boating and ropeway, the zoo, caves and of course the Mall road with shops jostling for space. It's a 12 hour journey from Lucknow and we decided to go by road since train reservations would have needed too much planning and our helicopter had gone for servicing.. heh..heh.. okay you didn't believe that.
First the statistics..
14 adults, 6 kids, 4 cars, 5 hotel rooms
... Nanus, nani mas, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces, man fridays, drivers... chaos.
I was meeting up with some of my cousins after nearly a decade and even though we've keep in touch there's nothing like getting together. The long summers we spent together as kids before varied school curricula ended that tradition, have left us with plenty of memories and bonds that haven't frayed. The years melted away. It was wonderful to discover that nothing changes... that childhood bonds remain.. the comfort level .. the shared memories, the laughter... it all came back. There we were having bun maska for breakfast, dashing off to the close by Pappu da dhaba for tea, stepping out for a boat ride or a walk down mall road yet always converging in a room for long chatathons.
The Pappu da dhaba needs more than a mention. Many of us in the family are teaholics. One glance at the resort menu and we pretty much cringed at the tea prices. Then we found Pappu... the perfect solution to our troubles. We started off tentatively wondering how the hotel staff would react to this preference for Pappu's tea over their's. However, soon we were going there in hordes, calling out to each other as we went.. 'Let's go to Pappu's'. Then we moved on to getting tea in flasks for the tired members of the clan. And finally.. we were asking the hotel staff to loan us their flasks to carry the tea back.
The kids were in their own world. They put the rooms to good use playing hide and seek and chor police. The three older ones looked out wonderfully for the younger bachcha brigade. I am glad They got to meet each other and make their own memories. I could see at least one of my New Year Resolutions being fulfilled.
|IT'S FAKE: Naisha picked up this cap with hair attachemnets and was just too thrilled|
|I'M SO BRAVE: But that's just a front. When we asked Hrit if he wanted to have a go he held the gun in one hand and shut his ear with the other. Only after many tries could he get the hang of it.|
The weather was great.. cool and cloudy. The last night of our visit we had a hailstorm for a super finale to the complete happiness of the kids.
That's it till next year.. can't wait for May.