When Chhavi and I stopped at Rishikesh (our way to Deoriatal) we decided to roam around Lakshman Jhula in the evening. We were staying close by so it was supposed to be a pleasant walk. While going down it was actually a pleasant walk. I was carrying all my camera gear so I was relying on Chhavi to walk. I cannot carry her anymore for even slightly long distances anyway. She also knows this and co-operates with me. Going down was not a problem at all. I was stuck at how empty Rishikesh felt! Usually crossing Lakshman Jhula is a task, there are so many people on it. On this evening in November it was almost empty. We reached the Jhula within no time and got down to the bank.
The day was fading fast so we had to get out before it became completely dark. A few rafts were still coming to the shore near the Lakshman Jhula and Chhavi told me in no uncertain terms that the next time she is going to sit in one of those and not a boat. I have made a note of it for the summer. Anyway chatting together we started walking up. She complained once or twice as we were walking uphill now. I told her she is a big girl now, I can’t lift her up. I noticed a tempo stand while walking down and I thought maybe I will take a tempo to the hotel.
My sense of direction is so bad that I can get lost even in a telephone booth if it has two exits. So after walking for a while I thought the tempo stand should be near by. However, it was nowhere in sight. I decided to ask for directions. I took Hotel Divine as the landmark. People told me there are two of them and I got them mixed up! So the people told me the correct direction to the other Divine Hotel. Thinking of it to be the correct one I started walking. By now the girl was not giving me any trouble, she probably realized I need to concentrate on finding the hotel. She kept walking without any protest.
When I reached the other Divine Hotel I realized it was the wrong one. I decided to turn back. A woman sitting in a small shop asked me why was I turning back. I told her I was looking for the other hotel. She directed me to the correct route. Only it came out a little ahead of our hotel and by now I had lost my orientation completely. I first asked a policeman for the way and he pointed out in the general direction. I thought the hotel should be the other way. Still, I walked and within a few meters I asked a shop owner for the way to my hotel. He came out and pointed out the hotel which was right in front of my eyes!
Both Chhavi and I were happy. For me all the anxiety was about Chhavi being too tired. The route was populated and I was not worried about us in any other way. But when we sat down for dinner Chhavi told me that I got her lost and I should not get her lost. Even when we reached Deoriatal she was quite concerned if Sohan Singh ji was going to be with us or not, because mum would get her lost.
The incident would have not properly registered with me if it was not for her protests! I can now imagine how frightening it must have been for her to think that we were lost. I have learnt my lesson and I am going to be doubly sure about my route when I am with her! Maybe because of her I will develop some sense of direction in the end!
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