Let’s wander where WiFi is weak… Munsiyari (2018)
Munsiyari… I don’t remember exactly where I heard this name for the first time. If my memory still serves me well, it was on my Binsar trip in 2011. A Sindhi couple, who joined us over dinner at Binsar, had travelled all the way from Munsiyari that day. They told us about picturesque Panchchuli peaks, the cold weather, narrow roads and lazy life of the Munsiyari town. I was mesmerized. It was then when this seed of visiting Munsiyari was planted in my heart. Over the years, I nurtured it with blogs, vlogs and photos. Slowly but steadily, this seed grew into a tree, and thus came out the desire to have a rendezvous with Panchchuli in May 2018, our maiden trip of 2018.
Over the years, I shared my desire to visit Munsiyari with so many friends and relatives. Most of them were unaware of this tiny hilly town located in remote corner of Uttaranchal, about 300 km up and away from Nainital. A few crazy ones like me – Praveen and Pramanshu willingly expressed their desire to join me for this trip, while a few reluctant ones like my wife and sister agreed grudgingly to join. To sum it up in words of Majhrooh Sultanpuri “Main akela hi chala tha janib-e-manzil magar, Log saath aate gaye aur karwaan banta gaya “.
Gaurav… The one who had this keeda of exploring Munsiyari, that too, driving all by himself
Ravinder… Gaurav’s wife whose only condition was no more than two days leave for the trip.
Ritika… Gaurav’s sister who wanted a break from Gurgaon… no matter where. She loves Pepsi despite working for Coke.
Prachi… Ritika’s buddy, who wanted to utilize her winters clothes, no matter what was the temperature in Munsiyari.
Pramanshu… With new iphone camera and old toned body, Munsiyari was a perfect location to show off both.
Nisha… Munsiyari trip provided her a perfect opportunity to gulp down half bottle of peppermint (her nausea drink)
Ansh… Ghumakkad bachcha, he abandoned his Nainital trip mid way and hopped on for Munsiyari trip.
Praveen… Gaurav’s cousin, who desired to have drink on the brink of cliff and then drive car.
Himanshi… Praveen’s wife, it was her first long drive trip to mountains with us. Welcome to our road trip crazy family.
Prashant… Praveen’s twin brother, who could not join for Munsiyari but joined us later at Bhimtal.
Priyashi… Prashant’s wife, she too, joined the gang at Bhimtal. Welcome to our road trip crazy family.
Munsiyari Plan and Itinerary
There were serious constraints in taking leave for more than two days. As we agreed, we had just two days plus the weekend… which meant four full days. Google says it is 18 hrs drive one way to Munsiyari from Gurgaon. My initial thought was that this trip is impossible within this time frame…. practically two days of driving one way, completely insane thought. However, our intensity of making this trip to happen was more than the reluctance of other members. As Paulo Coelho says in The Alchemist – “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
I had to check the maps, plan night halts, fix the places to be seen at Munsiyari, consider weather conditions and the check the hotel availability. Internet is a powerful tool where everything one needs to know is available at the click of a mouse button. Within an hour, I had all the information I needed. I was determined to make this trip happen. So, the plan which I chalked out was:
23-May ( Wednesday) – 16.00 hrs – Start from Gurgaon – Night halt at Moradabad (drive about 200 km) – reach by 23.00 hrs
24-May (Thursday) – 06.00 hrs – Start from Moradabad – Night halt at Munsiyari (drive about 350 km uphill) – reach by 19.00 hrs
25-May (Friday) – Explore Munsiyari (Full day) – Night halt at Munsiyari
26- May (Saturday) 11.00 hrs – Start from Munsiyari – Night halt at Bhimtal (drive about 230 km) – reach by 19.00 hrs
27-May (Sunday) – 10.00 hrs – Start from Bhimtal – Reach home by 18.00 hrs (drive about 330 km)
The Planned Route : Gurgaon – Ghaziabad – Hapur – Moradabad- Bazpur – Kaladhungi – Nainital – Bhowali – Almora – Sheraghat – Berinag – Thal – Tejam – Birthi
Considering the office leaves constraints we had, this was the best fit plan I could devise, though it appeared tiring. Thursday was going to be very tough considering it would be a full day hilly drive starting from Moradabad till Munsiyari. A little relaxation which I could offer to the plan was that instead of driving all the way to Munsiyari on Thursday, we planned to stay at KMVN Birthi (http://kmvn.in/), just opposite to Birthi waterfalls, about one hour before Munsiyari town. Moreover, instead of including Birthi falls on Friday (the only day we had for exploring Munsiyari), we decided to explore it on the morning of the day of return, Saturday. This was a trip in which a lot of effort had gone in fixing the itinerary since the time was short.
The next step was to book the hotels as May being a tourist season, the hotels tend to get booked early. We booked TRH Birthi and TRH Bhimtal for ten people and a hotel in Moradabad for enroute stay. With hotels booked, we were a bit relaxed, however, this euphoria was short lived as the rental for self driven cars was increasing. Soon, we booked a XUV and a Swift. A Splitwise group named “Munsiyari” was created as we were incurring expenses and it was essential to keep a tab on it. After fixing hotel and rental cars bookings, we were done with major expenses. Next, was to weave an itinerary around this booking…viz., route to be taken, restaurants on the way, places of attraction, things to do, shopping list etc. So, a checklist was prepared and responsibilities were assigned to the gang. Each one of us either had to buy something or arrange something for the trip.
There were ten members to the original plan. However, due to some office emergency, Prashant and his wife Priyashi cancelled their plan. Also, my son Ansh, who planned to be at Nainital on 24th May, decided to join us from there. Incidentally, it was my father’s birthday on 24th May and we all decided to celebrate it at Nainital while driving to Munsiyari. As we planned to leave on Wednesday after office, we needed to stock up the food, munches, drinks and booze over the weekend. The Sunday before the travel day was spent buying water crates, chips, biscuits, candies and alcohol.
23-May ( Wednesday) – 03.30 hrs – I presumed, the excitement of travel woke me up early. I was wrong. It was an email notification message which shook me awake from my slumber. The mail was from some Shashi Kant from Voler, who informed that our booked rental car was in workshop and would be delivered 3 hrs late. I was aghast. This meant we won’t be able to leave home till 18.30 hrs and will reach Moradabad post mid night. This was unacceptable to me. I immediately shot back a mail asking them to provide car on time or cancel the booking. I was ready to take my XUV, however, it needed some minor niggles to be fixed. Dreaded thoughts engulfed me and sleep eluded me thereafter. I was busy calling customer care at around 4am asking them to either give me a confirmation for car delivery on time or cancel the booking giving me full refund. They did neither. I didn’t inform the group earlier as they might have panicked leading to more chaos and questions than necessary at the moment. As nothing concrete was confirmed by volercars, I decided to take my XUV to Munsiyari. Amidst this confusion, the sun came up. It was time to go to office for half day. I left office at around 10am to get the minor issues fixed. As I was in the repair shop, operations manager from voler cars called me and asked for time till 12 noon to confirm something from their end. Since I was already out of office, I agreed. My XUV got repaired and I was home by noon. Ritika and Pramanshu also joined me at home by 14.00 hrs. Meanwhile, Volercars guy confirmed that car would be delivered by 15.00 hrs. We ordered Pizza, did final round of packing and took a power nap. By 15.00 hrs, Volercars representative came. Pramanshu and myself clicked a few pics and inspected the vehicle. It was already driven 1,18,500 kms and looked in a wretched condition. There were scratches all over the body, rear seat was broken and front passenger Tyre looked punctured. The representative told us that the Tyre pressure was low (not punctured). As we were getting late, we accepted the delivery of car, signed the papers, loaded the luggage and jumped onto the car ready to pick up our passengers. Before the music, the first sound that we heard was of low fuel. It was so low that I feared whether it would reach nearest petrol pump or not. Having no choice, grudgingly, we filled fuel and air and wasted another 15 mins. It was 16.00 hrs when we left gas station. Our first stop was to pay the UP RTO tax. Second one was to pick up Nisha and then Ravinder. Our cab service to Munsiyari started from my wife’s office by 17.00 hrs. By then, half of Udyog Vihar & Cyber City was on road heading to Delhi owing to office rush hour. We crawled along with traffic and reached Sarita Vihar metro station by 18.30 hrs to pick up Prachi. We decided to meet Praveen at Columbia Asia ghaziabad. As we entered Noida, I could sense it is UP traffic, nightmarish. By 19.45 hrs we reached the hospital. Praveen was still 30 mins away. We sipped tea, took a leak, ate chips, did everything to keep busy… but I knew, we were very late. We had to rush. By the time we left Ghaziabad, it was already 20.30 hrs. Nisha and Pramanshu had shifted to Praveen’s swift with Pramanshu at the wheels. The traffic was still dense. I tried to drive a bit faster and Pramanshu tried to keep up with me. However, in this melee, the two cars got separated with me leading the way. It was scorching hot outside. Hot wind was blowing. I started sweating slowly. With AC on, why was I feeling this heat? Soon we realized that AC had malfunctioned. With 40°C outside and hot wind slowly heating the inside of car, we had no choice but to open the window and feel the nature’s fresh air (read oven). I started sweating profusely. My co-passengers were no better. We all cursed the car in chorus. Fortunately, it was night, temperatures were dropping to late thirties. Had it been day time, we surely would have returned the car. Time was 21.30 hrs. We were almost at Gajaraula. I parked the car at Moga Punjabi restaurant. Aah, it was refreshing. The sudden gush of AC breeze. The sprinkling of cold water on the face. The first sip of cold lassi. Absolute bliss. Soon we ordered dal tadka, dal makhni, paneer and rounds of alu paratha. The service was quick and food was delicious. By the time clock struck 22.30 hrs, we were ready to complete the remaining leg of our journey to Moradabad hotel, Pratiksha. The remaining journey was uneventful. Our AC which had slept long back, woke up from its slumber and started cooling. Quickly it was bone chilling inside but we didn’t touch the panel in a fear that it might again malfunction. I had to wear a woollen shawl over my head to escape the chilly wind it was blowing. One filmi title which reverberated in my mind then was ‘kabhi haan, kabhi naa”… owing to the nakhras of our AC.
By the time we reached hotel, it was 23.30 hrs. We had booked five AC rooms here, already paid the advance and were ready to hit the sack. It was then when the hotel receptionist informed us that there had been some error from their end over booking. They had only three AC rooms available. After a long altercation, since we had no choice, we agreed upon taking only three AC rooms with extra beds. My wife carried her beloved pillow from home to the hotel room. No water bottles were offered in any room. The AC was loud as if it was screeching for a maintenance service, the fridge wasn’t working either. Due to hot weather outside, even insects and reptiles like lizard and spider took shelter with us in cool room. Overall, room was in shambles… only good point was that linens were clean. The day which had started at 03.30 hrs from the volercars email, finally ended at 00.30 hrs.
24-May ( Thursday) – 05.00 hrs – Don’t know whether sleep hugged me tightly, or the alarm ditched me. The moment I saw the watch, I knew we were late already. With three washrooms and eight members, we would need at least one hour from now. I did what was easy to come by, ditch the bath. This would gain us some time. In a hurry, we all got ready and by 6.15 am, were inside the car, ready to push off to Nainital. By the time we reached Kaladhungi, Ravinder realized that she forgot her beloved pillow at the hotel. There was no point going back now. Pramanshu spoke to his friend and he promised he’d get it from the hotel and hand it over to us when we return on Sunday. As we started the ascent to Nainital, the air got a bit cooler. Not that the weather was cold, our car AC had started working again. Soon, we stopped the car near a beautiful landscape of Khurpatal. Ritika got busy talking to my dad and fixed up a meeting point to cut the cake and to pick up Ansh. Meanwhile, Praveen too reached the spot in his swift. We got to know that Nisha wasn’t feeling well and had motion sickness issues. Our first wicket had fallen owing to serpentine road. She already started with her first peg of peppermint, her anti-nausea drink.
By 09.00 hrs, we had parked our car near Capitol cinema of Nainital and were ready to cut the cake on the occasion of my dad’s birthday. After the cake cutting ceremony sans Ansh’s piano music, we got ready to leave for Munsiyari.
Clock showed 10.00 hrs. Nisha, Pramanshu, Himanshi and Praveen were in Swift whereas Prachi, Ritika, Ansh, Ravinder and me were in XUV. Once out of Nainital, the traffic gradually reduced, though till Almora, it was continuous. By the time we crossed Almora, clock showed 13.00 hrs. We were getting hungry and wanted something ‘in’, while Ritika, Ravinder and Nisha were throwing ‘out’ despite anti-nausea pegs. Perhaps, the twirls of the road and lack of sleep aggravated their symptoms. By the time we reached Sheraghat, it was already 15.00 hrs. We stopped at a dhaba for lunch. The forest on the hills in the backdrop were on fire. There was smoke all around. Weather is changing, for worse, was all I could mutter. The lunch was excellent… dal, chicken and rotis were tasty.
As we started from there, magically, the ladies felt better. Good for the drivers, now they can focus on road. The clock read 16.00 hrs. Thal was still two hours away. That’s where I planned to fill up the car tank. This was the last place where there was a fuel station. Only Vodafone and Idea network was available. Jio was an alien name in this area whereas airtel was dead already. Can someone bring that airtel ad girl who boasts of fastest 4G? Forget 4G, even signal weren’t available. By the time we reached Thal it was 18.00 hrs. Everyone was tired, including the drivers. Himanshi too joined the league of ladies and felt uneasy. Four wickets had fallen already. How do we trek the next day if our gang is unwell, was the question looming in my mind. Their well being was our first priority. Amidst these thoughts, we gulped some tea, washed our face and got ready for the final lap, another two hours drive till our hotel in Birthi. By the time we left, it was already 18.45 hrs. It was getting darker and after Thal, the road got narrow and was extremely bad in some stretches. My eyes were hurting badly and head was spinning. Final 30 km were the toughest ones. It was totally dark when we reached Tejam police check post. We made an entry on the register giving our details. the police guy said.. ‘be cautious! The gorges are deep and the road is extremely narrow, so drive safely. Wow! Night time, amidst thick jungle, narrow winding roads and deep gorges around… what a test, that too, when both drivers are dead tired. But God is great, had it been raining, or snowing or foggy, it would have been a death trap, ain’t it? We drove extremely slow, with caution but at times, while crossing other vehicles, we had to run one side of the car on unpaved road, which could have been a bit risky. It was almost 21.00 hrs when we checked in TRH Birthi.
The rooms were clean, wind blowing was cool, and even at night, the view was amazing with Birthi falls (https://www.tripadvisor.in/ShowUserReviews-g2282655-d4089199-r586600371-Birthi_Falls-Munsiyari_Pithoragarh_District_Uttarakhand.html) in backdrop. It looked majestic. Dinner was served quickly, though it was veg only. We ate to our heart’s content. After retiring to room, I plugged in the leg massager nicknamed ‘sevak’. Ahh, it was so soothing, as the massager stroked my numb feet with measured thrusts, the pain and fatigue disappeared slowly. I don’t know when I slept with my feet still thrust in the massager. At around 02.00 hrs, I realized that I had slept sitting with my my feet in the massager. Such was our condition after this marathon drive.
25-May (Friday) – 06.00 hrs – We just had one day to explore Munsiyari else I would have continued sleeping. Reluctantly, I left bed, ordered tea and knocked on the doors of gang members. We had planned to leave by 07.00 hrs for Khaliya top trek ( https://www.tripadvisor.in/ShowUserReviews-g2282655-d8472011-r586608406-Khaliya_Top-Munsiyari_Pithoragarh_District_Uttarakhand.html) but it looked difficult. Quickly we got ready, had breakfast and packed stuff to be carried for trekking. Our gang was having breakfast. It was then when Praveen realized that he forgot his belt at home and needs a new one. We inquired from locals and they directed us to a shop which was hardly a km or two away. Me and Praveen hopped on to XUV and started driving to the belt shop. I drove fast and soon realized we were at 70 kmph on those serpentine roads. With excellent tarred road and no traffic, we reached the shop within 5 mins. This short drive made me realize that we can drive faster provided road is good and traffic is sparse. yesterday we drove slowly, perhaps because we were tired, or it was dark, or both. We left for Khaliya top when time read 09.00 hrs. The road from Birthi to Munsiyari was well tarred, though had steep ascent stretches. Still, we drove around 50-60 kmph. Once we stopped for clicking pics on the road side and I saw full jaw bones of an animal lying there. Usually, such sights aren’t visible on a normal hill station.
The view of the valley were excellent, however, due to forest fire smoke, we could not see snow capped Panchchuli peaks. Soon, we reached the starting point of Khaliya Top trek. It was here that we met our trekking guide. He told us that there was a KMVN rest house after 4 km trek. After clicking a few mandatory pics at the entrance gate, we started the climb. Time read 10.30 hrs when we started our trek. Pramanshu, Ansh and the guide raced ahead whereas me, Praveen and Himanshi were at the last. After about a km climb, Praveen and Himanshi went back as she wasn’t feeling well. The remaining group continued to climb. The path was unpaved one and had rocks and dry leaves scattered all across. Usually it was easy trek but some stretches were steep.
We hardly saw other groups doing this trek. Whole jungle was available to us. Pramanshu played a few songs on Bluetooth speakers which kept wildlife away from us. Panchchuli peaks already shied away from us due to haze. It took us about three hours and three hundred photos to reach the KMVN rest house on the hillock. We climbed about 4 km and around 4000 ft in elevation. The air was thin and chilly. Water was supplied through a pipeline coming from the top of hill. Water was freezing cold. The time read 13.00 hrs. We enjoyed maggi and tea there. We had also packed some alu paratha from our Birthi hotel, which came in handy here. Apparently, the view from KMVN rest house is panoramic but as there was a lot of haze owing to forest fire on the hills. We could not see Panchchuli peaks. The nearby hills still provided a nice backdrop for pics.
We rested and enjoyed our lunch there. By the time it was 14.00 hrs, we started our descent. Coming down seemed tougher as dry leaves on the unpaved terrain were prone to slipping. Fortunately, no one got hurt. By the time we reached back Khaliya Trek main entrance, it was 16.30 hrs. Our next stop was Nanda Devi temple (https://www.tripadvisor.in/ShowUserReviews-g2282655-d8496378-r586602123-Nanda_Devi_Temple-Munsiyari_Pithoragarh_District_Uttarakhand.html) , which was about 8 km away, through Munsiyari town. I again rushed our XUV and reached the temple by 17.00 hrs. Praveen and Himanshi had already reached there. The gang reunited and we all enjoyed nice hot tea in temple premises. The sunset view was amazing and I clicked a few breathtaking shots. By 18.00 hrs we got ready to come back to our hotel in Birthi.
It was getting darker as the sun had set. XUV’s front passenger Tyre pressure was again low. Definitely, it was a puncture, however, I was not in a mood to spend another hour getting it repaired. So, I got air filled up again. We drove slowly. I was leading the way in XUV and Swift was following. At one of the turns, a truck came head on to us and since the road was narrow, I backed up XUV to a broader section of the road. Meanwhile, Praveen perhaps miscalculated the gap between truck and edge of the road and tried to squeeze in his car. While doing so, Swift got brushed against heavy metal chassis of the truck and a scar was born on Swift’s door. Fortunately, no one got hurt and Swift was also fine. We drove more carefully and reached hotel by 19.30 hrs. Our gang was healthy and car was in running condition. So, no worries for tomorrow’s drive to Bhimtal, I thought. After a delicious dinner, we crashed onto the bed, to relax our aching bodies for another long tiring day tomorrow.
26-May (Saturday) – 08.30 hrs – Before the journey to Bhimtal, we had planned a quick visit to Birthi falls. A paved road right from the hotel took us to the bottom of Birthi falls. I was amazed to see this creation of nature. Water falls from a height of about 125 m cutting through the rocks, gushing down the valley. Water was freezing cold. All my plans to have a nice cool bath went for a toss when I splashed some water on my feet. Our hero Pramanshu jumped from one rock to the other, and helped us in maneuvering our way. We clicked amazing pics using his iPhone and DSLR. Our planned short visit of about an hour extended to two and if I had not intervened, our gang might have stayed there till lunch. After a quick round of maggi and tea, we came straight back to hotel. Clock showed 10.30 am.
We were already late. After a long haul of eating and packing of poori subzi & parathas, we were ready to drive to Bhimtal. Time read 11.30 hrs. This time, instead of taking the onward journey route, we took a different one.
The New Route : Birthi – Tejam – Kapkot – Bageshwar – Binsar – Dinapani – Almora – Bhowali – Bhimtal
As we took turn from Tejam towards Kapkot, there were countless mining stones scattered on the narrow road, which further reduced the driving part of the Tarmac. This road had sparse traffic and the ascent was very steep. There were numerous hair pin bends and at times our car had to be driven on first gear, a scary stuff. Since both cars were packed with luggage and passengers, sometimes, I could feel the beast (XUV) needed some steroids of 1st gear. The drive was very challenging but the route was more scenic than the one we took for the onward journey. By the time we reached Kapkot, we had already stopped thrice, two times for clicking pics of the landscape and once for motion sickness related issues. Fortunately, we both drivers were alright. There was no cell network along the entire stretch. For my Jio, this was really a vacation – no network after Moradabad at all. Not even once, did it come out of its coma.
XUV tyre pressure seemed low again. This time too, I got air filled up at Kapkot and didn’t get the puncture repaired. Why can’t rental companies ensure that tyres are in good shape and not punctured when they deliver the vehicle? I had decided to give XUV back to them in the same condition. Beyond Kapkot, the road merged with main highway to Bageshwar. The traffic density increased and road condition degraded from here. It took us almost an hour along this potholed road to reach Bageshwar. This was a decent sized town, full of traffic along the market on the main highway. The good news was that Airtel and Vodafone were back in business, while Jio was still in coma. We had to take a turn for Dinapani , which we missed and took the road to Kasauni. I realized it after driving for around 2 km after crossing Bageshwar. The U-turn had to be taken, but since we were hungry, we parked our cars along the highway and took out our packed parathas from Birthi. Soon it was a party on the road with us leaning against our cars and eating lunch. None of us had a fuss about eating on the road, literally.
Meanwhile Prashant called us and informed that he & Priyashi had reached Bhimtal. They had checked in the hotel and were waiting for us. He was going to get chicken prepared for dinner. Now, all we cared was reaching TRH Bhimtal and enjoy Punjabi style kukkad for dinner. Time read 15.30 hrs when we started from Bageshwar. The route to Dinapani was equally scenic. Fortunately, the twists and turns of this route did not churn the food violently in our stomach. Nausea was unvisited. Nisha could not get a chance to have another peg of peppermint. Around 17.30 hrs, we stopped our cars amidst jungle along a dhaba for tea. The place was scenic and while the tea was being prepared, we clicked a few beautiful pics. The place was good however, tea was not. Too sweet, even by my standards. The traffic got heavier as we neared Bhimtal. Soon it was dark but I must admit driving on hills at night is far easier than driving during the day time. The headlight at the turns really helps in navigation and judging while overtaking.
By the time we checked in TRH Bhimtal, it was almost 20.30 hrs. All the rooms were with a great view of famous Bhimtal Lake. Unlike Nainital, this place wasn’t packed with tourists. However, Birthi was colder with Max. temperature around 25°C. Here, it was almost 32°C, even at night. After enjoying a scrumptious dinner, we retired to bed but had to switch on fans. The vacation was about to end. More than ending of vacation, I feared what if AC of our XUV fails yet again tomorrow. After enjoying a salubrious weather on hills, driving back home facing heat of plains would be excruciating. Lost in my thoughts, I slept, while my Jio came out of its slumber and in came so many messages, notifications and reminder. Welcome to urban chaos!
27-May (Sunday) – 07.30 hrs – We don’t have to be late today. This was the first thought as I woke up. We had planned to leave by 10.00 hrs to reach home on time and get some much needed rest. The first task was to hog breakfast. We reached buffet breakfast hall in two groups. Few items on the menu were good, rest were okayish. I loved the tea though. After having three cups of tea and two rounds of breakfast, we all returned to our rooms to get ready. Time read 09.00 hrs. Since we had only three washrooms available, it took a while for all 11 of us to get ready. The ones who got ready early, went out for a stroll at lake.
By the time we reassembled, it was 11.00 hrs. Finally, by the time we loaded our luggage, settled the bill, it was around 11.30 hrs. As we were to drive back home, I noticed the XUV Tyre pressure again going down. Also, since the car was full loaded with luggage and passengers, first I had to get air filled up. It was almost noon when we started our descent to Haldwani. The temperature was going up outside, while it was going down inside as our AC was still working. Soon, we crossed Haldwani and took the road to Kaladhungi. Ravinder remembered her beloved pillow and asked Pramanshu to coordinate with his friend at Moradabad. Praveen overtook our car and soon raced ahead. They had planned to go inside Moradabad city and collect the pillow from Pramanshu’s friend.
Meanwhile, we thought of driving ahead on highway to a restaurant and order lunch. Obviously, we wanted our last meal together on vacation to be chicken. Ritika soon googled a dhaba named ‘Punjabi Chicken Corner’ near Gajaraula. The name was good… punjabi chicken Corner… wow! As we entered the dining hall, I knew we made a mistake. It was a ‘night’mare over ‘day’ lunch. The seats were broken, AC was unavailable, Bisleri water was out of stock and rice plates were limited as it was around 16.00 hrs when we had ordered the food. I was really astonished. How can a fancy restaurant on a busy highway run out of food and water…and cold AC air too? This was criminal, really. Moreover, the much awaited chicken was bland. It had Chinese gravy but was too watery. I had to flush down everything with Coke. Coke is really a savior.
When we had finally left, Google was bleeding red on the highway near Ghaziabad owing to some construction work. Soon, we stopped after Dasna toll plaza and Pramanshu hopped onto our car, since Swift had to be returned at Sarai kale Khan. When we started from there, Nisha suggested we all halt for tea. As we entered Delhi, we stopped along a decent roadside eatery and savored our last tea of the trip. The trip was finally ending soon. After an hour of drive, we dropped Pramanshu and Nisha at Cyber Hub around 20.00 hrs, while Prachi accompanied us to our place. We were home by 20.30 hrs after a tiring yet enjoyable trip.
I asked Volercars guy to come early and collect the car. By 21.30 hrs, I was done. Meanwhile, Praveen was charged extra for the souvenir scratch on his Swift. Nonetheless, all these experiences made this trip a memorable one with good company of family and friends. Four days passed in a jiffy.
We all made new friends, got to know our family closely, stretched our limits to drive and sit for long hours, drove on unimaginable treacherous stretches, tasted new drinks (read peppermint) and then puked green, trekked the first time… in short, created lasting memories. Since the day we came back, only one question looms in our heart… where next?
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