The week gone by presented us with an opportunity to take a short vacation. Given that Monday was a bank holiday (Mahashivratri), adding another couple of days of leave gave us a full 5 day break. And off went me, Anjali and Aarya to Nagpur, the place where my in-laws (temporarily) reside. The trip, of course, was planned well in advance which ensured that we got confirmed train tickets, especially on the Vidarbha Express which is known to be booked months in advance (now, of course, with the non-stop Duronto having started, the situation has improved somewhat). Of course, we could have taken the flight, but, given that it was quite sometime (more than 2 yrs) since we last experienced a longish train journey, we decided to undertake the 14 hr trip. Being an overnight journey, our prime concern obviously was how would Aarya cope up with her first experience of the train.
As we boarded the Vidarbha Epress last Saturday, those concerns receeded somewhat. A word about the AC coaches. Our coach was one of the newer ones to be inducted into the Railways and therefore, was quite impressive. Though I still cannot understand two things a. Why do they need to have curtains in every compartment ? and b. Why cannot a train of such a stature not have a pantry car ?. Thank God for the Aloo Parathas that we had the presence of mind to carry from home. Else we would have been struggling to fill our tummies. The standard biryani that was offered was, to put it midly, no great shakes. Coming back to Aarya, she thankfully put to rest all our fears regarding adaptability. Our worst nightmare was that she will wake up howling in the middle of the night and shake up the entire bogie out of their collective slumber. But thankfully, nothing of the sort happened :). After having her daily dose of milk around 11.30 ish, she went to sleep. Her only grouse was that the berth that she was sharing with her Mom did not give her the space to toss around while sleeping as she does at home. And for this reason, she was sufficiently irritated, as she made it clear by crying every half an hour so. A few quick pats on the back put her back to sleep again. And with this major problem being overcome, we awoke on Sunday morning and landed in Nagpur.
This was my second visit to Nagpur. Both have been in February, which is probably the best time to visit that city. Otherwise, Nagpur, like most of central India, can be brutally hot or cold. And this time, like the last, I quite liked the city. While I cannot claim to have seen a major part of the city, the parts which I did see (near the Station, Dharampeth, Burdi etc) were quite good. The place where we stayed (at the RBI quarters where my mother-in-law works) was even more impressive. Nice and wide roads, less of traffic and no major commercial centers meant that the Civil Lines area is wonderful to have a stroll either early in the morning or after dinner. On Monday, we went to the nearby holy place of Ramtek (about 70 kms away). Ramtek is supposed to be the place where Lord Rama is supposed to have visited and stayed in his exile and hence there is the standard fare of temples and lakes on offer there. Nagpur also, is the ideal base location if you are a wildlife lover. Major national parks like Pench (90km) and Tadoba (150km) can be covered in a day each. We had visited Pench last time around. It was my first experience of a wildlife reserve and I loved every moment of it. Other attractions in Nagpur include the so-called 'zero-milestone' that is supposed to be the geographic center of India :). And finally, if you are in Nagpur, it is impossible to escape one ubiquitous name. Haldirams is all over Nagpur. And not just sweets and farsan, in Nagpur you get Haldiram's bread, milk etc etc. I heard that they are also foraying into the education business !! Haldiram's Institute of Engineering anyone ? :)
After a good break of four days, we were back in Mumbai on Thursday morning, feeling refreshed and with happy memories of Nagpur.