Friday, April 6th, 2007
We left Bangalore on Friday evening by Karnataka express. Our neighbor was an account manager from Satyam, an andhraite brought up in North, who had a very active kid and an overweight housewife who was very nice, friendly and had a very beautiful smile. He had recently grown from being shy to being extrovert. He had a very bad experience at Manipal while getting his back cured and was ultimately diagnosed and cured well by a well known clininc in Malleswaram. Mush was quite and observant as ever.
Saturday, April 7th, 2007
Our neighbor had bought ticket till gwalior but were getting down at kopargaon to visit Sai Baba temple. Two young brothers took their place on a wait listed ticket and were fortunate to arrive at the right seat otherwise they would not have got a berth to sleep at. They had shared a berth to sleep when they came in from Delhi for Sai Baba Darshan. Also joined in a family of mother and daughter who had booked their ticket from bangalore boarding at their station that came before kopargaon. The daughter was a good artist at sketched and painting. Mush could befriend her faster than the telugu kid who was only a year older than her.
Sunday, April 8th, 2007
Gwalior came in earlier than we had expected and we had to wait at the station fighting with mosquitoes for Renu to pick us up and take us to their home. Poor girl had not slept properly for the last few days and had to wake up 5:40 in morning to pick us. We were led into a building on a square that looked like a commercial hub but also had few apartments at 3rd floor. A surprise but the balcony had a good view and the house was well furnished.
We negotiated with the autowallah who took us to Sun Temple ( based on the famous Konark temple in Orrisa), a beautiful and quite place but the security their was disturbed when he saw us shooting in the temple premises.
We took another auto to Sai baba temple and onwards to Jai Vilas palace. Enroute we witnessed a very chaotic scene at the petrol station with people fighting and shouting. There was no power so the palace was quite dark and was mostly dedicated to Scindia’s and their family photographs. There were beautiful pink chandeliers.
We were tired of autowallahs and messaged Chunnu about his location and he said he was on his way. He was bringing a Maruti Van from Gursarai and took us to Hotel Shelter where we had our food with the a/c because there was no power.
We came back to the apartment and met Manish Bhai and his elder brother who was so full of life and made everyone very comfortable in his company. He shared a special bond with his cousing and Chunnu and they had good fun pulling each other leg and creating laughter. I felt that Chunnu got close to this family because he shared his year of struggle with them attempting to get into a good management school.
We went to theme park in evening and only the soily wind had some movement. Back in apartment all had community dinner except me as I was the Jijaji. Night was fitful with mosquitoes biting the flesh out. I was trying to sleep and my wife was reliving the past and maybe sharing the present with old pals.
Monday, April 9th, 2007
Renu left in the morning. We went to the Gwalior Fort. A guide is necessary to explain the significance of the place and the awesome history struck us with surprise and humor.
In the end it’s all stones and mud.
The museum opened our eyes to wonder the past Jain sculptures. And the saas bahu temple turned out to be a temple of Lord Shiva and Vishnu. The Gurudwara was beautiful and I understood the sikh symbol of Ek Omkara. There is langer (free meals) all day through that we took feast into.
When we came out we saw a mango tree with beautiful fresh brown delicate leaves.
I rested after coming back to apartment Mush went sick and so rest of gang could not go out for a trip to famous markets of Gwalior.
Tuesday, April 10th, 2007
We left for Gwalior but ended up reaching Gokul. We passed through Chambal ghati and city of Dholpur in Rajasthan. We passed through Agra and had lunch in Bikanerwallah.
A guide intercepted us just before Mathura and we were naïve enough to listen to his claims took about turn to reach Gokul. The guide turned out to be a fraud along with the temple priests and we were lucky to lose just over a hundred rupees.
We left for Mathura and we were lucky to find Markets closed as it was Tuesday and it was easier to negotiate the temple. The place is full of sweet shops but unfortunately my throat was not feeling well. We visited Dwarkadeesh and JanmaBhoomi temple. The later is a huge place and has the cell where Krishna was born.
Chunnu got in touch with a friend in Vrindavan who promised a nice place to stay. The road was horrible and dusty. We visited Bakain Bihari temple and returned to meet Nikki at Gopal Temple ( an old temple constructed by Man Singh and destroyed by Aurangzeb who saw a huge lamp glow from distance and wanted to destroy it but lord came in temple priest’s dream and instructed him to take the statue to Jaipur through a secret tunnel).
He initially showed us a cramped but cheap room but it was too hot. Later we settled for a a/c room for the night. Others had dinner but I simply slept off.
Wednesday, April 11th, 2007
We had nice aloo parothas and chai. I had forcefully bathe Mush as she was resisting. We visited few more temples and Nikki invited us to his house for lunch. A pleasant surprise. We left for Agra and visited Sikandara, Akbar’s tomb and Dayal bagh, a memorial for a Hindu saint called Radha Swamy. Taj Mahal was quite a distance and somewhere on the other side of the city.
The first glimpse of Taj hits you in the eyes with its magnificent size and beauty. We were wonder struck for a while and I kept wondering How one could create such a beautiful place in memory of her loved one. And the sun set from behind of one of the minaret as dirty Yamuna flowed behind it.
Taj forces you to be romantic.
We had dinner enroute to Gwalior at a roadside Dhabba.
Thursday, April 12th, 2007
Chunnu left for Noida and we visited Achaleswar temple that has the legend that it caused death as it was attempted to be moved out from center of road. We bid goodbye to Manish Bhai and left for Jhansi. We visited Pitambara Temple in Datia.
We took a bypass before Jhansi and witnessed the construction of state highway and site for Sahara city.
We had food at another dhabba at Chirgaon and Mush sang her nursery rhymes in a hot summer afternoon sitting inside Maruti van.
Friday, April 13th, 2007
We visited Sagauli and met most of the villagers and they were related to us in some way or other. I learnt that people were searching for alternatives as the crops were becoming more unpredictable as rains failed for another year. People were also attempting to grow pepper mint. The temple on the hill provide a beautiful image as before but we could see the effect of becoming famous and commercialization.
We left for Gursarai late in evening and my wife misguided me on route on one occasion.
Saturday, April 14th, 2007
We visited orcha temple and were lucky to have darshan. Met a few relative there and in Jhansi and I was left at Railway station to wait for a train that was 4 hours late. I read through Business India, a business magazine.
Sunday, April 15th, 2007
I was lying on the berth for most of the day and came down in the evening to have a little chat and then conversation with most of the neighbors.
Somebody had stomach pain and we provide to help him out with medicine and rest but the old man from Geeta press asked me to call his acquaintance in Secunderabad to place a veg meals and masala dosa order instead of calling a Doctor to receive him at the station.
Even my stomach was churning but I went ahead with the food that was served as dinner.
Monday, April 16th, 2007
Morning 3 AM was the first loose motion and then until 6 that I forced myself to request Aunty to give me a tablet for loose motion. That helped for few hours but again the churning started and I had to take a different tablet from someone else and even that would not hold for long. But I was lucky that Bangalore finally arrived and I landed up in home with untarnished undergarmets.