Friday, February 28, 2014

Bank, Movie, Reception, Movie, Museum - weekend with friend

Manoj, with whom I used to travel in train/bus to and fro Tirupur-Coimbatore (50+km) during college days, came over to Bangalore (15,16 Feb 2014). He had some work in bank, wanted to meet me but on one condition - no trek :-/ It is more than 50 days now since I last went to a trek :(

He woke me up around 5:45am on Saturday and I managed to convey how to get bus to CMH road and to get a daily pass. I prepared poha for breakfast (coffee too before that :P) - managed to make it salty (despite my experience being less salt most of the time I cook for myself). Bank work (getting PIN for debit card and KYC form) at SBI PBB in Koramangla went smoothly and we had plenty of time left for the day before going to Tumkur for Yashwanth's reception.

After fruit juice, we decided to go Phoenix Marketcity and Decathlon on Whitefield road. We got lucky to get a bus till NGEF (avoided about a km walk from KFC to Old Madras Road) and traffic was pretty thin too. While waiting for bus to mall, Sun decided to make us feel the heat (after a cool morning).

I was carrying a handy Quechua foldable bag which had to go through security check 3-4 times as we moved about in the Phoenix mall trying to locate PVR cinemas. We ignored the signs in very large mall pointed PVR outside of the mall. I was assuming PVR to be in some floor inside the mall itself :P. After security guards pointed what the signs had said all along, we went out and saw that PVR was building by itself.

Lot of things to like about this PVR complex - large lounge, lots of screens to indicate current and upcoming movies, some cut-outs for famous ones (also for viewers to take pics :P), very nice sofas to wait, large restrooms (but didn't some arrangements inside), etc.We pondered between Tamil movie or Robocop or Frozen. I wanted to see Frozen, but still we went back inside Phoenix to check imdb rating - but wifi didn't catch on, so Manoj connected via telecom operator itself and Frozen was chosen.

We bought tickets (250 bucks each since it was weekend), had lunch and then went to Decathlon. I checked out cycles (gotta buy one soon) and then after lot of window shopping, Manoj got a T-shirt for himself and his younger brother.

Movie was awesome. A mickey mouse short film (started in black and white & then awesome 3D effects mixing with color) preceded the movie. Gotta see the movie again. The song 'Let it Go' has become my first addiction to a English song :P

By the time we came out, it was 5:30PM - about half an hour late to our estimation (because of ads and short film). It took 3:30 hours more to reach Tumkur for my colleague Yashwanth's marriage (bus pass helped us to changes buses to Hebbal, Yeshwantpur, another local stop and then finally catch KSRTC to Tumkur - not without drama though, the conductor told us we will have to go standing, we agreed only to find lot of empty seats! Perhaps he wanted to avoid the crowd that came in later to have more seats). It also meant, we could catch car pooling that our office colleagues had arranged.

We reached the reception paying an autowala 40 bucks for about a km (who initially asked Rs 70!). Immediately went to stage, wished the couple, stood for photo and then went to have dinner! Last four of office colleagues were having dinner. We finished soon and then hitched a ride with them back (6 in 4 seater car :P. But then two of us were wafer thin :D)

It was midnight when the long day finally ended (even longer for Manoj). It meant shelving our plan to Wonderla the next day. We slept a lot instead. Had breakfast at Adyar Ananda Bhavan (Manoj cracking a PJ that he can't go to Chennai and all for having breakfast) near Indiranagar Metro station. Came back and then watched another animation movie - Monster's university.

As I proved useless in suggesting good place to visit in Bangalore, Manoj resorted to Google and came up with a very nice spot - HAL Heritage Centre & Aerospace Museum. After lunch, we reached there by 3PM. Ticker was Rs 30 each and Rs 50 for still camera (we needn't have bothered, but it was worth it).

The museum is very well maintained, a guide would be nice though. History of HAL was well explained through pics and models and posters. Audio/Video room was not functional. There is well maintained garden throughout the complex (no wonder they participate every time in Lalbagh Flower Show). Some real life sized models were on display too. Engine models were so fascinating and complex.

Lot of free space to roam about and benches to sit. A small canteen and shopping place for aircraft models and toys as well as small pond with fishes makes the place a must visit.

HAL Heritage Centre & Aerospace Museum

More photos here

After leaving, we had tender coconut and then caught a bus to Lifestyle. Walked another 1-2 km to reach Brigade road. Had ice cream from American corner (bad idea for that weekend with stomach troubles). Then went to one of my favorite hangout in Bangalore - Blossoms book house. Was finally able to get hold of Arthur Hailey's Detective.

After cooking Maggi for Manoj (he wanted light meal and I was skipping), bid him goodbye after instructions to reach Shantinagar. A weekend well spent :)

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Village stay, Gujarathi wedding, no work - awesome time

Follow up post to bus travel from Bangalore to Surat. Fair warning - long post just like long Indian wedding :P

From one of the busiest highway in India (NH-8), we turned right to take Kosamba-Moti Pardi (KMP - thats a short-name I just made :P) road, the junction flanked on all sides with Hotels and a Fuel station. After having had breakfast at "Decent" hotel, we saw "Honest" hotel being newly constructed. Immediately within few meters into KMP road, thick black smoke were rising from factories - guess sugarcane. Road was good enough for 80+ km speed. Further ahead, it was more village like with trees and fields (spotted Sugarcane for sure) with occasional passing of carts and bikers and cars. The ride was about 9km and some narrow village road ride later, we reached Yatin's house - almost 26 hours after leaving my little room in Bangalore.

A function was just about finishing (Yatin was wearing white Kurta-Pyjama with Haldi applied at various places, sitting on a dais and Pooja being performed). Me and Devang refreshed ourselves upstairs, Yatin's cousin Viraj and his friends Prasun and Suraj giving us company and general welcome. The narrow roads, some bare brick houses, cattle sheds, etc reminded me of my own native village (Bhawtari) in Rajasthan. But comparison ends there - new houses will give stiff competition to houses in Indiranagar (Bangalore). We named it modern village :D Also the coconut trees definitely stood out along with many guava and mango ones. On the balcony, looking out, I realized that the narrow road ride was just a long detour - the tent in front of Yatin's house extended beyond the road and the power-line pillar being effectively used to hang lamps along with other wooden ones needed to spread the tent. Space behind was used to park cars and almost full.

Once the function finished, we were requested to have food at Ramji Mandir. It was between 4-5 PM and we had just had lunch around 2:30PM! After spending some time idly, we nevertheless went through short-cuts and village roads to the temple. Large open space in front of temple was tented to provide catering service (workers from nearby town/city). Don't remember exact menu, but all meals I had there over two days was similar - some sweet, sweet dal, vegetable curry (usually potato, brinjal) poori, rice, snacks (papad consistent item, even at wedding), butter milk (obviously I avoided it :P), etc. Poori's were small - about two mouthfuls which led to frequent requests from Suraj and Prasun :P The service never let our cups be empty of water for long and at end used to wash our hands in plate (effective I must say to avoid space and queue for washing)

Later in the evening, women folk gathered in front of Yatin's house to sing songs passed on from generations past. Whether all the rituals are necessary for a marriage might be debatable, but one cannot deny the festive entertainment, social interaction and things like songs preserving our heritage for so long. Kids don't need an invitation to play - they are so adept in turning something trivial into interesting game. The one that got our attention too was something like this - kids would get hold of wooden pole with one guy left standing without one - his aim being catching a pole empty when two kids exchange their spots. Rules were little more complicated than that which we didn't understand - like the calling of name which makes the catcher turn around from current direction.

I took a power nap with the singing acting as lullaby. Previous night's sleep quota was getting covered. After sometime and yet another food munching (atleast 5 for the day for me and Devang), we wisely left the arena to another house where we were to sleep for two nights. This house was what prompted us to coin modern village - Chinese symbol on doors, windows that become one way mirror on the side having more light, one wall painted like the Asian paints ad, nice floor and restrooms, etc. Beds were already arranged with nice warm and cosy blankets. Yatin told us that we were to wake 6AM next morning when we left him, but Viraj soon confirmed what we suspected it to be. We were free to sleep even till noon. We didn't take long to get comfortable and dug deep inside those blankets with two fans at close to full speed :P. Smart phone wale put their phones to get charged. If it hasn't been obvious - this little village had electricity pretty much all day. Forgot to mention - every house has atleast one primary requirement - झूला (swing) some of them with a fan above. The other common thing being a cattle shed.

I wisely turned off my 6:15AM alarm before sleeping but still ended up waking at around 6:45AM. I freshened up, read few pages of Xenocide and then tried to sleep again. Meanwhile, some kid had come knocking looking for someone I had no idea about. After everyone was up, our royal treatment continued - hot water and soap was supplied, tea given and even offered breakfast - that was already arranged in temple, so we could decline gracefully. We met Yatin and then went for village tour - that meant going to the canal. It wasn't a long walk but a little too hot to our liking on a February morning. We spent some time there - just idle talk about canal and how deep it was and how water was flowing at all (we did see that there was alternate sloping and flat surface - using momentum of down slope to carry water over flat slope and then down again). Our host was passing by in motorcycle - stopped by to chat with us. Yatin's uncle passing by in car - stopped by to chat with us. We all liked this aspect of village life - Prasun kept repeating this throughout our stay and to anyone who asked :P

We also got to see some engineering wonders - a load hauling auto (open container), except that the front part was being pulled by part from motorcycle (guess it was bullet) instead of the normal ones. And fitted with CNG too. (We later learned that CNG gives about 300 kms for Rs 100 fuel - might be exaggeration, but still very impressive)

We then came back and continued straight on road to reach temple (instead of galis and spotting more modern houses - one with two nice palm trees). As it was day of important function, arrangements were bigger. It was pretty hot day and we first quenched ourselves with cool water - brought in thermo-bottles (something similar we had arranged for my brother's wedding in 40+ degree June month). As it turned out, we had arrived right time (around 11AM) - we were having brunch while normal waking people were having their second helping of the day.

When we returned, arrangements were being made for "Grah Shanti Pooja" (I first misheard it as गृह instead of ग्रह - which changes meaning from Planet to Home :P If it was a Marwadi marriage, Pooja for Home Peace would have made lot better sense than for Planet :D). Bed (thin as well well as thick ones) were laid all over the place for sitting, a platform on the opposite side of pooja for Geet-Sangeeth as well as big poster and photo frames of the marrying couple and family were placed. Kids as usual found a way to play - this time over-turning themselves on the bed, sometimes over the back of another kid. Yatin's room-mate Ruchik arrived by now, we went back to our stay to rest and freshen up a bit.

Then we went upstairs to check on Yatin and his family getting ready. Barber had come for home delivery :P I enjoyed some time in jhoola before all forced me to wear a पगडी (turban) too. When we came down, crowd had significantly swelled and by start of function had occupied every space available and more. We sat few paces in front of the music stage, looking very odd in our turbans - I strongly suspect we were ridiculed by locals :P. We were served fruit juice (pineapple + orange mix) - which took long time coming to us. An elderly person was distributing chocolates (throwing rather) to women folk. And then Mohammadi (our colleague) arrived too.

Pooja went on, we could barely see from our position and couldn't hear anything as the hired artists sang in Gujarathi/Hindi along with commentary about pooja and people involved. I would have liked more folk songs but then perhaps the locals liked Hindi ones :P (not that I understand Gujarathi :P) A few times in middle of pooja, more sweets were 'distributed' amongst the women.

Like the previous day, food was arranged immediately after the function. We stayed back to allow huge crowd to clear up a bit. Big relief when we removed turbans (had blocked ears and a bit tight over head). But even then, we had to wait when to finally went. We had soup while we waited (and joked that it was customer satisfaction ploy by caterers). After another sumptuous meal, we took another round of village (some different route) and came back to temple. We kidded Prasun and Suraj to have another innings (they were not-out in batting :P). After some chit-chat with Yatin (having his dinner), we came back. Beds were being re-arranged for ગરબા (Garba) later. We stayed a while before deciding to take power nap and returning.

I read few more pages of Xenocide while others slept. Ruchik was sleeping like a guy not slept for a week. And we proved to be troublesome guests - tap in bathroom gave away twice - fixed cleverly by Prasun though using a wooden stick. Around 9:30PM, I went out to check if the dance program had started. Mid-way I could hear the starting notes. I saved my kurta to be worn next day while others dressed in kurta-pyjama or more casual dress. When we arrived, crowd were beginning to build again. Huge clearing in the middle and chairs arranged around. After some songs (artists finding innovative ways to make us applaud at end of a performance - there were 2 male and 1 female singers. Yatin was called to sing on stage which he somehow avoided, but artists were equally well-equipped. They sang Kaate Nahi Katthe (song from Mr. India) and made Yatin to sing I love you :D), it was time for main show - Garba. Not sure if I had seen before, but certainly first time I was seeing live. And of course, we normally associate Dandiya with Gujarat (made famous in Tamil Nadu by AR Rahman's rendering in movie Kadhalar Dhinam).

Not able to find video which closely matches the one performed here, unless I get some clip taken at that time. Nevertheless, watch this one from 1:20

It starts slowly with three-steps and people going in circles - sometimes circles within circles. Yatin's family members started and then one by one many from the crowd got in to form a very large circle. We were obviously pulled in and I can be applauded for the most comical show ever. But after two circles, I did atleast get the beat and rhythm of the steps (not necessarily visible on my outside). Singers were continuously performing (pretty difficult to differentiate change of song). I got tired pretty easily but the villagers kept on it for more than 2 hours I suppose. The pace picked up in various stages and left us in awe by the gracefulness of it all.

There was a break, during which the crowd thinned. To our surprise, we were served gobi manchurian and tea and then dance started again! Pace picked even more this time - which was being performed by few select ones, while others continued in their sedate pace. And then, to satisfy the adrenalin, songs moved to bollywood ones made for this very purpose - like lungi dance. The artists stopped and left when the show moved beyond their calling - at which point some villagers were pretty disappointed. They even tried a failed attempt to bring a car and play. One guy led chants of Yayaya (Rockstar) - which felt like some sort of rebellion :P

Hiren joined us to make it 6 for the stay that night (we could have accommodated 2 more easily). As you might guess, we slept  long. I got up around 7AM again - don't remember the last time I slept past 8AM. I finally finished Xenocide - some consolation. That's not to say book was bad, it just was too long and not fast moving. We had breakfast and then went to Viraj's home (forgot place name) - it was about an hour's journey through various fields (sugarcane, wheat, cotton, channa, etc). On the way, we got some snacks and heated jawaar (even raw tasted good). Spent about an hour at his place - looking through photo albums, with Big-B's Lal Baadshah in back ground and munching away jawaar mixed with snacks. Followed by tea and, wait for it - ice cream! We got to know a bit about agriculture and tools (mainly drip irrigation) and use of CNG (saw all motorcycles fitted with one). Guys polished their shoes and sandals before we left.

We reached back Kantva and had just enough time to freshen up a little and pack-up. We had to leave to Baruch. We had to travel on the busy NH-8 again, with long hold up due to accident on one crossing. I kept a lookout for Hotel names - wasn't disappointed (saw two more Decent hotels and some other English word ones). To drop Hiren, we went via Ankleshwar instead of NH-8. It was better choice as we got to cross the Golden Bridge on Narmada River (built by Britishers, metal bridge about a km in length - no nails, rivets used instead). It was wide enough for about two cars to pass side by side - buses and other large vehicles prohibited. 

We reached the welcome place for baraathis after some confusion. We turned out to be first car from our procession, and so a bit worried if it was right place :P A large area was tented and chairs placed with provision for some snacks and water. Being Yatin's friends, we got special treatment and went inside house meant to receive Yatin. Lots of mosquitoes, but otherwise nice place. We went to roof and waited. We were served a very tasty snack (again forgot name :( - it had aloo, apple, pomegranate, etc) followed by ice cream and then tea! (odd combo twice in a day, but different order). Once again, there was Pagdi tying - I somehow escaped :P. Then bride's family performed a welcome ceremony followed by gifts. It was reciprocated from groom's side after sometime. We waited downstairs - on beds arranged all around like before. Kids were playing with big ballons - smashing on each other and elders alike and moving on quickly when they burst.

We then walked to bride's place for dinner (about 10 min walk) - large tented space opposite the bride's home. Waited for Yatin (coming in car) and then seated opposite him - again special treatment extended to us :P Food was largely similar to that we had in Kantva. We then walked back to original welcome place. A different tradition compared to Marwadi wedding - but as one joked, perhaps it helps to have our stomach full before baraat starts.

The loud band wasn't as good as previous night's show. But very few cared - baraat is all about fireworks and frenetic dancing surrounded by bright lamps. Got to credit one singer though - he sang in pretty believable female voice - solo/combined as well as in male voice.

After some time, there was Garba show again. Not as grand as previous night, but nice to see tradition being followed. Suraj and yours truly avoided dancing as much as possible (beneficial to us as well as to unfortunate viewers). It was pretty late in night, but still people were returning to their homes - good to see them taking our obstacle in stride and not making an issue. There were even posters and police arrangement informing public of the baraat. But I doubt many in the houses on both sides of road would have slept amongst the loud fireworks and band.

It was past 2AM I think, when we finally reached bride's home. And that too after speeding up baraat in last stretch. Bride came flanked by her family to welcome the groom with garland. Then after some more ceremony to the groom, some inspired thinking got us forming two lines and joining hands above when Yatin walked inside to the mandap. There was Geet-Sangeeth arranged here too! Gujarathis do like live music shows ;) Perhaps inspired from us, bride's side formed two lines and held their hands on ground for the bride to cross!

Viraj and party took care of groom's shoes (don't know eventual result :P) with some camouflaging. We were given flowers (to be showered during Saat-Phere). We didn't get to see much of happenings on mandap thanks to photographers and videographers blocking our view. When it came to saat-phere, we all stood around and started showering flowers plucked from garlands adorning the mandap itself :P

Finally, at around 4AM, after all ceremonies and bidaai, we left for Kantva. Initial plan was for me to go to Surat airport straight, but we had enough time now. Tired, we slept for a while but load music was a deterrent. Devang and Mohammadi went Ankleshwar to catch train to Mumbai (and then bus to Bangalore). Ruchik went with Viraj. Myself, Suraj and Prasun left for Surat (after bidding bye to Yatin and some freshening up and one last cup of tea) - driven by a relative who has his own sugarcane field and had slept only few hours past two days - I for one was certainly a bit embarrassed with so much hospitality (not to forget mentioning the weird feeling because of not working anything for 3-4 days at a stretch).

After some CNG filling (always topped to full tank irrespective of how much was there earlier) and fast highway riding and through Surat (very busy even so early in morning - saw a girl riding to tuition in scooter!) and rising buildings around outer ring road, we reached airport - about an hour before scheduled departure. I freshened again a bit, had the remaining pieces of Khakra (left over from bus travel) and snacks. Surat airport had only one gate and no need of bus to transport us to the plane. I slept fitfully while waiting, briefly saw takeoff over Arabian sea and slept again for most part of flight. Long stop over at Mumbai and then another delay in Bangalore waiting for #4 (more than an hour! didn't take #6 to avoid changing bus - bad decision). To make it a bit worse, I had taken only half day leave that Wednesday. Worked the afternoon session from home, fighting against fatigue :P

Sunday, February 9, 2014

A day in bus - Bangalore to Surat (Feb 1, 2014)

I had travelled to Malegaon via Shirdi in bus (18-20 hours in total) for my room mate Prakash's marriage. So it wasn't difficult decision to make to travel in bus to Surat for my colleague Yatin's marriage. It gave me a wonderful opportunity to visit Gujarat.

It is difficult to imagine that we have option to journey long distances in bus, but perhaps it is inevitable given the lack of adequate train options (in terms of seat availability, timings, as well as bus journey saving half a day). SRS has even introduced service from Bangalore to Jodhpur!

Some last minute answering to office mails, cooking Kichadi, packing, etc had me hurrying to catch a bus to Majestic. When the not-so-surprising traffic in Ulsoor around 2:30PM seemed to be jammed forever, worry gnawed me insistently. I forgot my headphones in hurry to make it worse. I had a novel (Xenocide) with me, but that was for 'real' bus journey (only 100-odd pages were left to be read, I was actually trying to finish it that Saturday morning so that I could take a new book :D) It turned out to be unnecessary fidgeting - I reached Majestic before 3PM, while my bus was 'scheduled' to depart at 3:30PM.

I had general idea of direction from google maps, but I had to ask multiple times to reach Anand Rao circle - had sugarcane juice after long time on the way. I was going in the direction of circle when I had the first confusion - two SRS booking office on opposite side of road. I chose the larger one, but that turned out to be parcel service and the guy told me to take right from circle ahead. I still had plenty of time and walked forward. On the corner was another booking office and one opposite the road again. Common sense was telling me both weren't the place I was to go(no place for bus to park) but I was at unease again and asked for direction. I was told to go further. I passed VRL travels having a large open parking lot, so I guessed SRS must be having one similar ahead. Was finally right and saw passengers getting into a bus. Bus being early surprise was short-lived, it was going to Mumbai, not Ahmedabad.

Good to see restroom facility here. While I waited, I got to see a guy with military crew-cut as well as a bag indicating military. He was coming in our bus too (overheard him inquiring at the Mumbai bus). He had a weird habit - carried a water bottle, gulp and spit often - like every 5-10 minutes. Saw him doing that almost everytime bus stopped during our journey.

Oh well, I have written so much and I haven't got into bus itself yet - my own weird habit :D Devang, Yatin's room mate joined me around 3:30PM. The bus finally arrived and left few minutes past 4PM. Half-an-hour behind schedule already. Getting out of Bangalore proved herculean task of more than one-and-half hours. There were passengers getting in at various pick-up points, it seemed like SRS booking office was located every 2-3km.

At 5:50PM, we got our first break. Conductor announced a 10 minute break, which turned out to be more than 20 minutes. The hotel employed two people outside - their task being guiding for parking as well as whistling loudly to attract attention of passing cars and buses. Have I mentioned that world is a weird place yet?

 Sunset on the way
After the break, movie procession started - Awara Paagal Deewana, Phir Hera Pheri, Deewane Huye Paagal, OMG, Khiladi 786 (didn't finish by the time we got down next day). Thankfully, volume wasn't too high like I experienced in KSRTC Airavat (to Shirdi). There were two screens, one just behind driver (only curtains separated passengers) and another in middle of bus to entertain the 44 of us. I mostly watched the comedy scenes and spent rest of the time watching the scenery go by (sunset, speeding cars on highway, numerous toll booths, oil tankers longer than our bus, village lights, etc) or brooding about life. After dinner around 10PM (decent food in Punjabi hotel, very crowded due to multiple buses and cars, waiter assuring repeatedly to calm down angry passengers) I somehow slept while the 2nd movie was on (I put on thermocot plus used the warm bedsheet provided by SRS). But then, it would have been miracle if I had peaceful sleep the whole night. Once the movie finished, I woke up due to change in ambient noise. And then it was fitful sleep for rest of night.
We were woken up early next morning (few minutes after 6) at a large complex housing petrol bunk, refreshment and hotel. Village/town was Taje, approximately halfway in the Mumbai-Pune Expressway (not the NH). Devang and me had tea (not bad, but cost Rs 15!). First rays of dawn were still some time away, but I could see mountain range to the left as we started again. We passed through tunnels, hair-pin bends and past some very scary cuttings through mountains (protected just by rope nets against landslide, can't imagine the scene during monsoon).

Houses in hills were very good looking and seemed systematic - or perhaps constructed to be sold as getaway villas. As we neared Mumbai, tall towers started showing up. Like getting out of Bangalore, getting in and out of Mumbai seemed to take forever. Not sure of the boundaries, but must have taken atleast 2-3 hours. There was small hold-up in traffic initially but otherwise we weren't stuck in jam. After 8AM, 3rd movie was on (also means that charging plug points were active - another luxury). I was bored of movies by now. I thought I would get to see hustle-bustle of Mumbai, but wasn't to be. Did see DY Patil cricket stadium, local trains, most taxi being Santro (didn't see even a single normal santro :D), a slogan "Non-smoking is bridge to good health" on one of the bridges (lots  of water bodies and mountains in Mumbai).

Near Mumbai

We had some snacks I had got just in case we were hungry beyond the frequent stops I knew would be made. Around 10:30AM, we finally stopped for breakfast (we were still in Maharastra though) at Decent Hotel (food was decent too). Perhaps, due to buses like we traveled, South Indian food was as prominent as local food. To be on safer side, we skipped oily poori-bhajji and ordered idlis. While waiting for everyone to finish, front glass of the bus was being washed with water. Devang informed me that there were two drivers for the trip. Nice policy. The speed was pedestrian compared to SUVs zooming past in highway - but better safe than thrill ;) It was pretty hot for February morning, wondered how dry and hot it would be in peak summer.

I got out Xenocide to read, but it was slow going and I was frequently looking out the window (blocked slightly by large ad letters of or watching movie. Soon I gave up altogether. I hadn't seen OMG before, so it was better time pass. It was getting a bit irritating too that our destination was still long way to go.

Around 1:20PM, we got bonus break in form of diesel fill up. We bought palak khakra thinking that we might get dropped at Kosamba before lunch. Devang informed the conductor of the place we needed to get down showing map on smart phone. As we crossed Surat, Yatin called me to get status. He told that only 20-30 minute travel was left but then around 2:30PM we stopped for lunch :D We weren't that hungry, but thought better to have something than disturbing our hosts at an odd time. Roti, aalu-mutter, onion, cabbage salad were good (Gujarati taste ;) ) The hotel had a large fountain inside as well as mini garden behind with some birds cages too.

Finally, at 3:30PM, we were dropped before a flyover near Kosamba (but had to actually get down few kilometers further ahead). We were sent a car (Santro if I remember correctly) and we finally reached Kantva (Yatin's village) more than a day after the multi axle volvo had picked us up at Anand rao circle - just about 4 hours delay than scheduled ;)

Except for little less sleep, I didn't feel tired because of the journey. Good leg space and semi-sleeper recline plus the rarely feeling bump in ride on good highways in volvo definitely helps. Long distance travel is no more exclusive to trains and planes.

Village, marriage programs, etc in next post :) - Here it is

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