Finally, My flight ticket to Mumbai got booked. There had been a significant reduction in my speech, diet and activeness for a week. I noticed it when I passed by the regular chauraha without stopping for Paani Puri.
Week 13: Mumbai-Pune
Day 1 Part 1:
The fateful day arrived. I had booked an early morning flight to get past the flight phobia as fast as possible. But since morning, the God was in playful mood. The monsoon decided to strike and it poured cats and dogs. I was praying and the cab was cutting the water in the speedy lane. Suddenly a big water body flashed over the wind shield. The watchful driver applied brakes to slow the vehicle, but the truck behind us, could not and it resulted a 25 Tonns beast bumped our sedan from behind. After a quick settlement, we rushed for the airport and somehow made there on-time. But the drama wasn’t over. The trunk of the car, loaded with my two bags, refused to open. I was stranded there with my toddler and MIL while the driver rushed to a local mechanic to open it. It costed me half an hour. But somehow driver got my luggage on time. I started running towards all security checks with my luggage in hurry while my toddler enjoyed my insanity and my MIL worried about us missing the flight. Finally, I reached the boarding queue and took a deep breath. But breath was taken away when the Air hostess inquired about boarding passes. Goddamn, I ran like Milkha singh to check in counter and found security personnel waving the passes and smiling at me. I had left them at the counter while juggling among the toddler, the diaper bag, and the bag full with Malihabad Mangoes specially ordered by my Husband. Apparently for him, ‘Alphansos’ are nothing in comparison to the ‘Malihabadis’.
In the haste I forgot to WhatsApp all my contacts ” Love u all ” before taking off. Thank God for that or else it would have been so tedious to send an explanation to everyone.
Day 1 Part 2 Mumbai:
Ya! the flight was over without any event as eventually the God made peace with me. I landed in Mumbai. The welcoming sight of Mumbai, the biggest slum of Asia, was a bit depressing. I had recently finished the book ” Behind the beautiful forever” which is based on lives of people of the slum next to the airport. It suffocates me just looking at these slums and thinking how people struggle for space. Before I could delve any further I reached my BFF’s house seeing whom I forgot everything. She is like the fresh breeze which one must have in one’s life. She is a complete different world altogether and I always feel so relaxed in her company since college days. She stuffed my belly with savory good homemade food and heart with old days’ talks.
I was sad while leaving her but excited in expectation to see the beautiful Bombay Pune Expressway. But pre-monsoon shower came heavily on us. The journey was beautiful but the heavy rain spoiled the view a bit.
At times, the rain makes you depressed. Right when I was gloomy, I saw light at the end of the tunnel and felt hopeful again..
I arrived Pune with absolute zero plans. No expectations, nothing! I stepped down from the cab and first thing I noticed that the air conditioner was working outside too.
The Guest house where we stayed was an excellent adobe for my daughter. It had sufficient space for her to run here and there . In the evening, we strolled around MG road munched some road side Bhel that tasted awesome with raw mangoes and returned with some street shopping and enjoyed rolls from Rollsmania.
We went to the Phoenix City Mall, had a burger in Burger King, did some time pass and had dinner at Food Court. It was not that great experience at all. The funny part was to go to fun city for our baby, happily buying tickets and realizing there was no fun for a two-year toddler.
So since my MIL was with me so it was customary to visit some temples we headed to Shirdi early in the morning which is three and a half hour ride from Pune.
The advent of Monson had made the surroundings lively and beautiful. In breakfast, we had ‘Misal Pav ‘ and ‘Vada Pav’. Both were spicy yet yummy. ‘Misal pav is the type of dish which should be used in Master Chef to confuse the contestants in guessing the ingredients. I could not find whether it had sprouts in it or sev.
I do believe in the doctrine that all are equal in the eyes of God but on this day I chose to take a VIP entry to the temple. In all the hustle bustle I didn’t realize when the Darshan was over. The big famous temples always remain a mystery to me, they never offer me the space and solace. I prefer to pray at home or the nearby temple which has sufficient space to sit and offers time for one to one talk with God.
On the way back, we visited the Shani Shingnapur Temple. I was elated because I belonged to that generation of women who got the privilege to enter the temple and worship the shrine. But before I could feel more victorious and could tell shani maharaja that how these men have kept him in darkness for so long and that he will enjoy the visit by the woman squad and what not, I was pushed aside by the line of people behind me. Photography was prohibited but outside the temple I found a big movie poster and couldn’t resist the clicking. Lord of Shingnapur.
I also clicked this amusing sight of an old fashioned sugarcane machine being run by a bull.. These places were called Rasvantis.
It rained the whole day and we had no option but to sit and stare at each other. I however enjoyed watching television. Yes! at one point of time, in your hectic life it becomes a luxury. In evening we went to FC road. This time I didn’t leave the evening planning for my husband. With the help of Internet, Blogs and Zomato I handed over him the list of things I had to do. Apart from shopping we had a chocolate sandwich at a place called Flavours. Packed cheese cake from ‘Sweet Chariot’ and savored the ‘Yana wok and sizzlers ‘ for their famous sizzlers for which apparently people come from Mumbai to enjoy .
I couldn’t sleep the whole night mostly because of indigestion and also the baby who caught cold and vomited all over me. But I always keep myself prepared for the unexpected from the baby.
Day 6 :
Next day after kick-starting the day with a cup of Eno…. Yes, you heard it right! Eno! We decided to let the baby rest with MIL. We left for Vohuman café which is famous for its bun Maska, Cheese Omelette and of course the Irani Chaai. On the way back bought a sweat shirt for the baby.
After spending the day we just walked around in the neighbor-hood and let the baby recover. With the help of Zomato, we decided to have a grand dinner at ‘Little Italy’. It has a bunch of the most courteous waiters, who if were Italians would have kissed my hands some 20 times I suppose. They made special arrangements for the baby to sit and when baby started shouting ‘ Maggi Maggi Maggi’s looking at the next tables pasta the staff arranged a small plate of pasta tossed in butter for her. She showed her table manners and had it with both her hands.
We ordered Pizza and Lasagna , both were amazing.
My husband’s colleagues came over to meet the baby and we decided to have lunch with them at NH37 dhaba, a Bengali restaurant. The ambience was very rustic and food was very delicious. The best feature of the restaurant was that they approached us with a box with a lock and asked us to keep our phones in it and give the key to the waiter. This initiative was to ensure that we all have a good time with each other rather than staring at our phones. If u successfully had your meals without opening the box you will be given 10% discount. Unfortunately, my husband had a Con-Call to attend so we couldn’t avail the benefits.
I couldn’t take the photos of this place as the baby was cranky and my husband was busy in a con-cal.
The tour was over. We drove back to Mumbai. It was again pouring like crazy and it took us 4 hours to reach the Mumbai airport from Pune. I don’t think I will even survive a day in this city if I have to stay here.
Week 14: The vacation lag is not over yet. The memories of Pune are just not leaving me and so are the extra kilos and inches. The heart wants more. So while munching the ‘Bhakarwari’ by the ‘Chitale Bandhoos’ I have prepared my next travel plan. It will either be Goa, a luxury cruise, Pondicherry, Thailand (provided my passport is ready), Gangtok or Kerala via Pune.