We set out for a road trip yesterday, a rainy May morning. The rains were a pleasant respite from the sweltering summer, and they made our journey an intensely happy one.
I was excited as hell as we were making a pit stop to my birth place, Pantnagar before heading out to the cool climes of Dhanachali, a hamlet tucked in the mountains of Uttarakhand. You can read about my memories as a kid from Pantnagar here – Far, Far Away.
This was a long awaited family trip, the DH, girls and our nephew. We drove down through Gajraula, Moradabad, Rudrapur and finally through the ancient trees of Pattharchatta that formed a lovely green canopy. This majestic road led to the Pantnagar University campus. The kids kept those spirits soaring and the bonhomie going by blaring some Sia, Artic Monkeys, Lenon on the boom box and engaging in some mindless chatter. The eight year old continued to sleep most of the time on the backseat. A survival technique she uses for her car sickness!
The pristine beauty of Pantnagar with its perfectly manicured roads and huge palm trees, the plethora of litchi and mango laden trees made us all squeal in delight. There were abundant mango laden trees growing across the length and breadth of the place and ripe, red juicy litchis that were ready to to plucked, staring back at us enticingly.
We were put up at the Lambert square guest house. We reached in time for an atypical home cooked lunch of yellow daal, pumpkin sabji, kofta, piping hot rotis was devoured by us in no time. It’s funny how ravenous one gets on holidays!
The DH and I took a walk to the market, which had by no means changed from the time I was a kid; almost thirty years back. It still had a bit of squalor here and there. Our favourite stationary store Kamal book sellers, Pammi Bhaiya’s confectionary shop continued to dot the market. Pammi bhaiya still insists on pampering me just the way he did when I was a kid. He refused to listen us and sent tetrapacks of juice for the kids. Embarrassing for us yes, but that’s his own little way of showing his affection for me. I remember buying the multi coloured saunf ( fennel) packets, Phantom cigarette candies, orange hard boiled candies from him when I was a kid and how he thrust a free bottle of Goldspot my way each time, despite me and my parents insisting that he shouldn’t. He and my brother were friends too. He fondly asked for him and my parents.
In the evening I took the family to the market again for Phattu’s samosas. They were as yummy as they had always been. Tad cleaner and more hygienic though.
We then went for a tour around the university campus. I took the family to my school where we posed for a few snapshots, a sweet reminder of the place where I finished my senior high school from. We drove around the colleges that were surrounded by grand lofty flowering trees, like Amaltas, Gulmohars and a few others; names of which I don’t really know. One looked so much like a big cherry blossom tree with its pink, orange blossoms that veiyed for our attention. Then there was another of those stately ones covered in pristine white flowers.
We were invited for tea to the current Vice Chancellors Dr. J. Kumar’s majestic abode, Tarai Bhavan. Dr J Kumar or Jeetu Bhaiya as I have always called him since I was a kid was one of my father’s favourite students. Incidentally my father was a scientist and Dean of the Agriculture college of this university. Yet again, Tarai Bhavan looked the same, the way it did 30 years back. After some conversations over tea, Jeetu Bhaiya and his sweet natured wife Neeta Bhabhi took us for a tour around the premises. We thoroughly enjoyed looking at the ancient Banyan tree where the erstwhile VCs wife would host teej celebrations and a swing would be strapped to the tree and adorned with flowers. She would invite the ladies of the campus for a grand celebration. There was now a little tree house on the Banyan tree. The beautifully kept garden with the various trees planted by dignitaries like Abdul Kalam, M.S. Swaminathan, Pranab Mukherjee etc. made for a bewitching sight. The sprawling mango and litchi orchard were also another attraction. The entire Terai Bhavan is spread out in an area of 7.2 acres!!!! If that isn’t huge don’t know what is!
This morning my eighteen year old tells me, “Ma you were truly blessed to have lived and grown up in such a beautiful, green, clean and peaceful location with such a wonderful quality of life.” Yes I truly was. Though when I was growing up I always dreamt of moving to a city. But now having lived in the city for so many years I truly appreciate the gifts I received from having lived in this wondrous university campus that gave me unconditional love and still continues to, even when I return back after so many decades.
We may move across the seven seas but I guess our love for the place where we originally belong and come from will always be an intrinsic part of our being.
Note: I’m currently in a low network zone. I will be uploading more pictures once I get back home later this week.
Linking up with Corrine’s #MondayMusings and Mackinzie’s #mg