My Deoriatal trip happened at a short notice. I knew there was no teaching in the week following Diwali at my workplace as it was off for students. But I was procrastinating about taking the whole week off. Then my institute declared it a holiday for everyone! Now here I was with one week of leave and no plans for travel!
I had just come back from Madhya Pradesh and my back was protesting against my constant short trips. I almost decided to take it easy and not travel anywhere. But my husband really pestered me to take Chhavi out on a trek and Deoriatal happened. He could not join us as he had some work.
The first task was to try and secure a tatkal (current) ticket for Haridwar. Now there are plenty of buses to Rishikesh but with a child it is easier to travel by train. I dutifully tried logging in to IRCTC at 10.00 am a day before so that I could book the tatkal tickets but I had no luck initially. I could not even log on to the site till about 11.00 am. But even at 11.00 am there were 122 seats available in the Dehradoon Shatabdi for the next day. I was able to book two tickets easily. Now we were traveling the day after Diwali and my father told me it would be very difficult to book a local cab as no drivers would be available. I tried my luck with Meru cabs and there was no hitch with the cab.
Soon Chhavi and I were at New Delhi Railway Station, sitting comfortably inside the train. I have been with her to Pushkar before and I knew her penchant for “mummy kaab aayega” (are we there yet). I warned her it was not a question be to be asked this time. She asked me anyway but not her usual 160 times but only 30 times are so. I am be patient 30 times and we had no major fight over it. This time thankfully slept off as well.
We arrived at Haridwar relatively fresh. We took a local bus to Rishikesh which Chhavi called khadbad khadbad bus (rattling bus). It was a run down local bus alright. She went quite wide eyed as we entered but sat quietly by the window for the entire journey. People who know her know what rarity that is!
At the Rishikesh bus station we hired an auto and asked him to take us to the Lakshman Jhula area. He deposited us at Hotel Shivanta (which is on the road and opposite a small police station at Muni ki Reti). They had a big and reasonably clean room for 600 rupees which I took. The auto driver and the hotel boy had a chat and suddenly the hotel boy told me he misquoted the price. The room was really for 1200. I told him I knew of no one who was that absent minded. I would rather walk away than pay the inflated price. The room rate was settled at 600 rupees.
In a while we walked down the Lakshman Jhula lane looking for food. We went in a cheerful looking restaurant called Divine Cafe. It was full of foreigners. By now it was approaching 2.00 pm and I was really hungry. There were only 3 tables going and yet no one from the standing army of waiters was attending us. I actually got up and asked the person at the cash counter why were taking so much time when only three tables were busy? After that I got good and prompt service.
We attacked our food (which was more for the palate of foreign clients) as we were hungry and it was OK, passable roti and kofta. Chhavi wanted a pastry and she got it. It was also just about OK. Stomach full, I was looking forward to sleep.
I was happy that the room at Hotel Shivanta had a table and chairs. I put on Doreamon for Chhavi and gave her strict instructions to do her drawing only on the table. Then I dozed off. Chhavi was quite excited with a toy she picked up from roadside. She kept jumping from the bed to the table and in the process kept kicking me. I still dozed off.
Then in the evening we went to the Lakshman Jhula and got lost! After we reached back to your hotel area we went for an early dinner. Both Chhavi and I didn’t eat well. Then it was time for cartoons and sleep.
The next day we were headed to Sari Village via Rudraprayag. We were getting up at 5.00 am or so.