Thursday, June 5, 2008

SKIING EXTRAVAGANZA - Day 2 - 'Old memories and New!'

Day 2 – “Old memories and New!”
(25th January 2006, Wednesday)

Rajdhani caused us a minor discomfort by reaching 45 minutes late. But we can’t blame the railway authorities, for they were simply sticking to Indian Standard Time!

Reaching Delhi I couldn’t contain my excitement. We got a royal pick-up courtesy Sukul uncle’s car. We dropped dad off at Naval Head Quarters. I got off at SP Marg and headed for Tanwars’ residence while Tanya headed to Arjun Vihar to Sukuls’ residence.

Meeting Sheetal, Aarti and aunty after 10 months was superb! It felt familiar, it felt like old times. Once I settled down, I tried calling up loads of my pals- Neha, Anmol, Shikkar, and Ishan…but no one seemed to be home. It angered me a bit for I had informed them much in advance about my trip. I then called up Sharanya and to my relief she did answer my call. We talked barely for 2 minutes before she cut the call as she was in some class.

My last hope was Aanchal; and she didn’t disappoint me. She promptly answered my call and we talked as if nothing had changed. The phone went dead at the peak of our exciting conversation. I sighed and retorted, ‘great!’ in a sarcastic tone. While I waited for the phone to come back to life, I contemplated whether to go to school-alone-to meet my teachers, now that my friends had ditched me. (I completed my 12th grade in Delhi before moving to Mumbai for college) My contemplation was broken by the ring of the phone. It had resurrected!

I was at it again- making calls-this time with a positive result. I got through to Ishan, only he wasn’t at home but right outside the colony where Tanwars stayed. I rushed to the gate and met both Ishan and Anmol. Boy, were we excited?! For sure- at least I was. We talked for a while, fought as usual, teased each other, remembered old times, caught up with new developments in each others lives and at last-after much debate- concluded that however much we ourselves may think we’ve changed, we hadn’t changed one bit, just the circumstances had.

The three of us then headed to school. I met my Maths teacher, Mr. Ramaswamy who was happily married, Nidhi Soni ma’am who asked me the full form of H.R. College (don’t even ask, its too weird-period), Librarian (How’s the Sweet Valley fan doings?!) and finally Parul Jain (PJ), Vaishali Das (VD) and Nidhi Soni ma’am. They were genuinely pleased and surprised to find me in New Delhi! I shared their surprise for till the very last minute this ski trip was uncertain, mostly because in just 3 months I had my PE-1 exam to appear for. I did not get to talk to all my teachers for more than 10 minutes, but the 10 minutes were fantastic and enough to pay my gratitude.

Heading back to Tanwar’s residence I had lunch and along came a surprise. Anamika and Shefali (we were a trio!) had come over to Tanwars’ house looking for me. Anamika had even left a gift for me – a silver chain with four small stars and one big star in the centre, the typical ‘bling bling stuff’! Adoring the neckpiece, I longed to meet Anamika for she was almost like a sister that I never had. The very next minute she called and I rushed to meet her. Oh! It was just like old times. Thereafter I accompanied by Naveen, went to meet Shefali. She’d thinned down and looked prettier. The day, so far, had been rocking! I relived some old memories and it felt like home!

I headed back to Tanwars’ residence. Taking a long hot water bath I tried to calm my anxious nervous. Skiing, it seemed so alien, almost scary. The meal that followed-gajar ka halwa and some snacks-helped my cause. Getting into my jeans and lots of warm clothes, I was ready for the bus ride from Delhi to Manali.
In the meantime dad collected our bus tickets, brought gloves, scarves and inners to bear the cold up at Solang. Dad, Tanya and I headed to ISBT (Inter State Bus Terminus) in our Chauffeur driven car (Sukul uncle again!).

We were booked on the so called luxury Volvo. Taking the name for GOD, we prayed for a safe and exciting journey. The seats were soft and I could drown in them. The push-back gave the feel of a bed that was inclined 20 degree upward from centre on. The comfort and tranquility in the Volvo was broken by the sound of the speakers. The TV screen lit up and to my disgust the movie we’d have to bear for the next 3.5 hours (Yash Raj’s usual!) was Neil & Neil. That’s not all; they ended my ordeal within an hour, simply to make it worse by playing James. (Mohit Mathew’s acting is as cold as he is hot!) I preferred sleeping.

In between my occasional naps, I breathed in the scenery. The landscape varied from flat road to steep climbs and hair-pin bends. On the way, we say a marriage banquet hall dressed up in lights. Even the decoration of fake palm trees was covered with strings of light. It seemed like a magical city. What a treat for the eyes, and imagination!

Our first halt was at 10:30 PM at a place called haveli, somewhere on the highway. We ate some tit-bits and resumed our bus journey. Then we ate some chips and bread pakora and went off to sleep. Despite the comfortable ride, my back and neck were getting strained. I hope I’d wake up and not have a nagging pain.

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