Even before we started from home, Chhavi and I were bargaining hard with each-other. She wanted her hair braided right at the gate. I told her that she had to let me take pictures, including hers! The deals in place we headed to the metro station to go to Dilli Haat. It was the mother daughter day out!
True to her word, she got a single braid right at the entrance. She wanted henna on her hands too, but I cajoled her to let it go till the end, or else she would not enjoy roaming around.
Her next demand was for a chuski, which I agreed to. While she was eating her chuski and dropping half of it on her dress, I went and got a mango kulfi for myself. In the end she did not finish her chuski.
Chhavi likes to touch everything that is on display. And I have to keep running after her, to make sure she doesn’t break anything. But the shopkeepers were extremely patient with her. Not even a single one said anything to her for touching their stuff!
We bought two rings for Chhavi from this shop. While going back I stood by to click another picture of this display which I liked a lot. I was yelled at for clicking a picture now that I was not buying anything. It took me a bit by surprise as almost every second peron in Dilli Haat walks around with a DSLR! I am good at giving back, but that is not why I go out of the home, to pick up petty fights. Anyway this was just one stray incident in an otherwise wonderful day.
I quite like taking a stroll at Dilli Haat for such colorful pictures. I told Chhavi she could buy three things though eventually the limit was revised to 5! She bought a head band from this shop!
After a while I insisted on food whereas Chhavi would not go anywhere near it. We found Modak at the Maharashtra Food Stall. In my foolishness I ordered two. It was a struggle to finish it off as the kid would just not eat her share! I tell her that there is a limit on things she can but but not on what she can eat. She wants it to be the other way round.
By the time we reached the Maharashtra Stall she wanted her braid to be opened at any cost! The knot was tight and I could not open it. First, she wanted a braid and then she could not bear it! The joys of going out with a child! I told her we will ask the same lady to take it out. That gave me some breather to finish my tea in relative peace!
Chhavi often urges me to buy one of these for myself. I never wear them, so I am content to click pictures. She bought a huge pink necklace from outside for herself.
A blue colored flower crown was our last purchase. After that we went to the same braid lady and asked her to take it off. She was quite sympathetic to Chhavi asking her if it was too tight?
After two visits to Chandni Chowk, I have realized that Dilli Haat food is not even a patch on food in Chandni Chowk. I have had mango lassi now at both the places. At Dilli Haat they charge twice a much for a very watery drink. For our next outing within the city, I think I am going to go out to Chandni Chowk with Chhavi.
If you would ask me I would stay in a camp any day over a retreat. But Chhavi had different ideas. She had a great time at the MHE Beach Camp but she didn’t like the nights as the camp has no electricity. I understand that as the camp is in the Rajaji National Park area but for Chhavi when it got dark she cribbed. Our original plan was to stay for 3 night at the MHE Beach Camp and 2 nights at the Bull’s Retreat but we reversed it. Bulls Retreat also has TV which was an added attraction for the kid!
Bull’s Retreat is a green, spacious and homely place. It is right by the road which goes to Kaudiyala and beyond, so it is easy to locate. Neeru ma’am who is the manager is friendly, caring and easy to talk to. Time went by pretty quickly and peacefully at the retreat. This is how a typical day would go by for us!
Waking up to the Birds
As there is a dense tree cover around the Bull’s Retreat, the birds would go about their business early in the morning. It didn’t help that Chhavi is also an early riser. She would start stirring with the birds at about 6.00 am. She would drowsily stay in bed till about 7.00 am. After that she would use every trick in the book to wake me up! I on the other hand like to sleep like log in the morning hours! But even a person like me found waking up to the sound of birds beautiful.
There was a bottle brush tree behind my room which was a magnet for birds. I am now thinking of planting a bottle brush tree around my home too.
The meals both at the MHE beach Camp and Bull’s Retreat are good. I particularly liked the fact that the food was not too oily. Between 8.30 to 9.00 Chhavi and I would dutifully appear for breakfast. We had paratha, puri chole and sandwiches for breakfast on different days. Porridge and fruits were a constant feature. They also realized how much I liked tea and they would give me a flask full of it right in the morning.
Right after breakfast we would head out to play games. Bull’s retreat has a small basketball court meant for kids. This was Chhavi’s first try at the game. She was quite surprised to see that her mummy was good at the game! After all, kids take their mums completely for granted! We would then play badminton in the open air. Both of it was incredible fun for us! It would also tire out Chhavi and then she was less prone to mischiefs.
Retire to the Room
We would actually stay outside for such a long duration that it would be almost time for lunch when we went back to the room. Our room was quite comfortable. The bathroom has a solar heater so it takes a while to get hot water. I liked it that they provided a small bucket to collect the flow of the initial cold water so that it could be reused later. Due to some reason they do not provide shampoo in the bathroom. There was a tea kettle with tea bags and all in the room.
Lunch used to be sumptuous affair with dal, two vegetables, curd, chapati, rice followed by fruits. They serve each roti hot off the tawa every time!
It used to be quiet time for us after lunch, which meant TV for Chhavi and a book for me. However, after playing for a long time in the morning, Chhavi would invariably doze off and I would go after birds and flowers with a camera in my hand.
I would eagerly wait for my flask of evening tea with some snacks. Chhavi would have a glass of milk. We would once again roam around till dinner time.
Walking Around in the Evening
We would walk around in the evening within the premises. There were flowers in bloom in every corner. It was fun to go about the place or sit on the benches.
Dinner was on the same sumptuous lines as the lunch, the only difference being instead of fruits there would a sweet dish. As I have a big sweet tooth, desserts are always a high point for me!
It would be a repeat of something like this for us every day of our vacation. We decided not to venture out any place nearby. There were minor variations though. One day Chhavi played in the small sand pit near the climbing area as she was missing playing in sand.
We had a bon fire and snacks on one night. As of now Chhavi has no fascination for bon fire, but I am sure this will change.
Chhavi and I had a gala time trying out the Trampoline at the Bull’s retreat. The operation’s manager Colonel Ahuja taught us how to go about it. Chhavi anyway was a natural at it. He advised us to rotate my arms anti clockwise and start jumping. I could do it easily as well. And it was so much fun! But the way my arms hurt the next day! But given another chance I will try it out once again.
The resort has a wifi but in the common areas, including the lawns. Initially I was quite irritated that I had no connectivity in the room. But after a while I enjoyed the fact. I am sure if the room was wifi enabled I would have started working right from the retreat. As I had to get out to get the connectivity, I actually took my vacation the way it should be, working only on the essentials and minimally. Plus the lawns had a lot of flowers too!
I would highly recommend Bull’ Retreat at Shivpuri is you are looking to spend some quiet time in the lap of nature.
PS. I went to the Bull’s Retreat as part of their Blogger-in-Residence Program. Do check it out.
Yesterday I took my camera to the park as I wanted to click flowers in the bloom. However, a friendly football game started taking shape in front of my eyes. I call it the Kids vs. the Giant. Kids were represented by Chhavi and her friends and the giant is my nephew Sunil. As it was Sunday all of us were in fun mood. This is one of my rare off topic posts which is not about travel. It was just way too cute, not to write about it.
The Start of the Game
The game started with just three players, Chhavi, her good friend and Sunil. It was actually quite difficult to keep all of them in the frame with a 50mm fixed lens. I don’t know why the kids wanted to defend their goal in this fashion!
I Would Rather do Handstands!
Gradually the number of players increased but the frustration of playing against bhaiya (big brother) was on the rise. Chhavi wanted to perform handstands instead! It was anyway Bhaiya vs. everyone else!
We Are An Army Now
The number of kids went up and soon the goal post which was denoted by the two slippers, was full. Now where would bhaiya score from?
However bhaiya got the line in complete disarray within seconds and every one was aflutter, running here and there. And you know what that would mean? He scored again! And he would celebrate as well after scoring!
The Team Went into a Huddle for a New Strategy!
This was the last ditch effort to save the goal which was the result of a team huddle. I was a little late to click the perfect huddle! The result remained much the same. But bhaiya made them learn passing and played some silly games with them as well.
In the end the kids demanded that Sunil should kick the ball and hit the aeroplane flying overhead at that moment! To which he told them very seriously that it was not possible.
I remember reading knock at the door peep in with this giant who now scores goals at will! And now we sit together and discuss office politics. How time flies!
I am a big mountain fan and I am blessed that I live in India, the home to the Himalayas. And if I want more there is always Nepal and Bhutan next door. However our ‘main’ hill stations like Shimla, Manali, Nainital etc are extremely crowded, particularly over holidays and weekends. They are over constructed too. However, the solution to the problem is also simple. Just move out a few kilometers from the main hill station and it is all beauty and solitude. Fagu Himachal Pradesh is just 22 kilometers away from Shimla but it is a different world out there. Admittedly there is no nightlife, and other than the HPTDC hotel, I spotted no restaurants as well. There are a few kirana shops and there is nature on a grand scale.
Remember my letter to the mountain gods? Looks like it worked partially. I got an absolutely gorgeous day at the beginning of the trip. After that it snowed and it was business as usual but I am not complaining.
Even though I have been to quite a few places close to Shimla like Chail, Narkanda, Naldhera and Hail Himalayas near Sadhupul, this was my first glimpse of the snow capped ranges. I so wanted to see them glow red at sunset, but then mountain gods had other ideas. Even though it was a clear day, by sunset the whole range disappeared behind a veil of clouds, but even then I am not complaining.
We were staying at the HPTDC property Apple Blossom. There was a temple behind it and a tila (hillock) beyond it. It was our favorite walking ground. I actually liked that stray white cloud because it made the scene even more pretty.
On the hillock was this lonely house which was locked. There were no other accommodations around it. I wonder if this is just a store house?
And even when I got mist, it was beautiful on this trip to Fagu. This year the effort is going to be to go to the Himalayas whenever possible.