When my nephew asked me if I would like to accompany him to Amritsar the first thing that came to mind was that I would spend time with Esha, my daughter and a chance to wash away all the sins that I have been accumulating all these years 🙂
I love travelling and always am fascinated with the long train journey with speedily changing scenery from one state to the other. Tamil Nadu Express is one of the prestigious and fastest trains launched by Indira Gandhi in 1976 and was always my favorite when I booked my tickets to Delhi.Sadly after Laloo finished his term as the most successful Railway Minister, India has ever seen the Indian railways has gone to the dogs….literally. Dinesh Trivedi…areyou listening??
As soon as my nephew Kirat and I settled down in the train the first thing we noticed were the creepy crawly cockroaches all over the place .With great trepidation we unrolled our bedding to catch some sleep. Kirat and I tried our best to kill as many as we could!! When i woke up in the morning I still saw the cockroaches leisurely making their way all over the seats, luggage, people, and what have you. After brushing my teeth I got down to opening my bag for some homemade breakfast.I had a box of strawberries in my fridge which I thought i would savor in the train.When I picked it up..to my utter chagrin it was full of hundreds of cockroaches and i dropped it like a hot cake into the garbage Bin…I complained to the attendant that the bogie was full of roaches and he only had to say…Is it??
That was one nightmarish train journey to Delhi. To add fuel to the fire the train was more than 4 hours late and we had to travel all the way to the Wagah border .But the late train made us cancel the trip to Wagah and we set off to Amritsar in our taxi..Kirat, Esha and me with 2 drivers!! Sunny Walia was the one with all the wrong info about the places and the route. Me being a typical south Indian could not tolerate nor comprehend the love ballads that he played in Punjabi in the car. Frequent pleas to change the music fell on deaf ears.
We stopped to have lunch at Zhil MIl dhaba which was highly recommended and turned out to be highly overrated as well.It was an interesting place though with very interesting looking people around.A punjabi uncle in a full black pathan suit donned a black cowboy hat he must have bought at the trinket store there. There were 3 young sadhu dressed boys who were shopping at the Nike and UCB store there!!!
We continued our journey through lush green fields and passed through Panipat, Ludhiana, Ambala, Jalandar and so on. The driver who said he was a native of Amritsar strangely lost his way en route. While i was dozing off in the car(Innova by the way) suddenly I could hear a siren.I was alert with a jolt and looked around for a police jeep but none was in sight. This happened again after some time and then I realized that the siren was in the car itself.The driver kept using the siren to clear his way!!! On the journey to and fro i was wondering when we would be pulled over by a real police jeep for using a siren!! Thankfully it didnt happen.
We reached Amritsar at late night and woe betide the hotel manager gave away our booked room to someone else.He guided us to another hotel nearby and it was nearly 12 by then. We crashed out and planned to go to the Golden temple at 4 in the morning. I set the alarm on my mobile for 3.30 and I was up at 3.15 itself waiting for the alarm to go off. The bell boy showing his right hand said that the left tap was the hot water one!! I kept waiting and waiting and the hot water never came. Well it’s not easy to wash away your sins now. Is it? It was a brrrrrrrr cold shower .Esha was dead tired and when I woke her she said she would join us later as if it was a party we were attending . Had to literally coerce her out of bed and then all 3 of us set off for Harmandir Sahib.
A pleasant cold morning and the first sight of the Temple reflected in the waters of the Sarovar always make me gasp in amazement. The camera could not get enough clicks it seemed. There are no words to describe the wonder of this architectural marvel. We started the parikrama from the left and reached the entrance just as the Palki Sahib was being carried from the Akal Takht to the Harmandir Sahib. Even at that early hour there was a massive crown and it took us more than an hour to reach the Sanctum sanctorum. Once inside prostrating in front of the Guru Granth Sahib made me feel so calm and serene and I prayed for the well being of all my loved ones. Spent some time on the first floor praying in that benign ambience and then walked back partaking the Kadha parshad at the entrance and then to the Akal Takht.It is the seat of Sikh Religious and Political authority vested with all powers.
It was still early morning and the sky was covered with cottony clouds….perfect backdrop for a photo session. We were ravenously hungry by this time as we didn’t have dinner and we hurried to the Langar hall and all that they served at that time was Tea and Mathis!! Hunger pangs led us to Kulwant Kulchian Wala….sadly the kulchas didn’t live up to the famous name.
Disappointed at not going to Wagah border we just slept for a couple of hours and headed back to Delhi. I asked the driver to stop at a mustard field as I think that they look really good…one whole expanse of yellow a la DDLJ. Esha and Kirat ridiculed me at first but then came forward and posed themselves. The Punjabi songs played in the Taxi gave me a real headache. We reached Esha’s flat at around midnight and then to total oblivion until morning.
Meeting my niece and the kids for lunch is always an exciting and thrilling prospect for me.Sahej is my first and favorite grandson and Rubani is a sweet billi!! She sat on my lap and talked nineteen to the dozen. Watching her and Jiya dressed to the nines and keeping me engrossed with their talk made me want to relive my kids growing up years again. Wishing them to be toddlers once more! Sumptuous lunch at Sidewalk courtesy my niece Sonya and a visit to Bangla Sahib Gurudwara with Kiran summed up my day. I didn’t have time to visit my sisters but then I spent time with Esha and cooked Dal/chawal for her which she relished and that surely was fulfilling. A simple meal which gave so much pleasure!!
Kirat the adventurous refused to travel back with me as he wanted to enjoy Delhi for another couple of days. Dakshin Express on the way back was much cleaner and neater though it took too long a time. The attendant actually sprayed a room freshener and Hit for the stray roaches that were around. My mobile battery got heated up too much while charging it in the train and my laptop acted real funny too when plugged in. Home sweet home at last but then my delicate digestion protested the foreign food and I also had a throat, ear infection and a cold and I thought maybe my sins were being washed in slow motion like some scenes in the movies.
Any travel is a learning experience and am already waiting for my next journey.