Things I Liked About The Pachmarhi Trip: -
1. Seven official Masters out on their last hurrah, before life beckoned.
2. The weather in Delhi at the beginning of the trip. Thunder, lightning, rain. Unexpected, and therefore, so very nice.
3. The part on the train journey where everyone except RK was up, early in the morning or in the dead of night, whichever way you want to see it.
4. B screaming 'chai!! chai!!' at a rather surprised pair of guards at Jhansi railway station at 4.30 in the morning.
5. Poor RR trying to get us a cup of tea in the morning, having to jump back onto the moving train, and consequently getting hot tea all over his hand. (Us equals B and I. We're addicted to the stuff, as the others will attest). Thanks man, but the tea was sooooooo bad. It smelled like a cow.
6. VJF insisting on telling the thoroughly disinterested RK that the city of Bhopal was named after its founder, a guy named Bhop.
7. The start of the bus ride to Pachmarhi, when the bus was almost full, and I honestly believed that we'd be there soon.
8. The little boy at the fruit juice stand at Hoshangabad, who very proudly rattled off a list of fruits that he could juice up, and then was too shy to look at me after I'd given him a bar of chocolate.
9. The first dinner at Pachmarhi. I was so hungry that everything tasted like manna from heaven.
10. The fact that the place had no cellular network, very few people and practically no noise.
11. That there was a pair of swings outside the cottages where we were staying. I haven't done that in so long.
12. I slept early and woke up early (ahem, relatively) and had tea sitting on the veranda, and looked at the trees.
13. The cold water was cold, and sweet, like it always is in the hills, and back home.
14. The frolicking around at the two waterfalls the next day. Sitting at the base of Bee Falls, with the water rushing down my back. This is what the leading ladies of Hindi cinema get paid to do. I'm so jealous.
15. The view from the viewpoint with the name that I don't remember, with a glassful of the best tea I've ever had.
16. Standing up in the Gypsy on the ride back to the cottage, and taking awkward pictures.
17. The after dinner walk where I picked up a disreputable looking and thoroughly chewed up pencil stub, and pocketed it as a souvenir. RK thought it was rather gross.
18. The visit to the two hundred and fifty year old British church the next day, and peering in to see the stained glass windows.
19. The short, death defying bus ride back to Bhopal, which restored some of my faith in this nation's public transport system.
20. Reading all of Hosseini's 'The Kite Runner' and almost all of Dalrymple's 'City of Djinns' on the train back. Heya Kitkat, is that why you refer to denim pants as D-Jeans?
Things I Didn't Like Quite As Much On The Pachmarhi Trip: -
1. Bhopal Express should be renamed 'Lose Weight Now? Ask Me How' Express. There was no food. No hawkers even.
2. The train was three hours late, we missed the state transport bus, and had to resort to the Shady Travels bus, which had to go bust at H'bad, to add the last missing element to the bus ride from hell.
3. The conductor evidently thought that his bus was actually Noah's Ark, and he had to save Everybody.
4. I had an aisle seat, and therefore, posteriors belonging to a whole swathe of people, and of every possible description, were thrust in front of my face.
5. B also managed to garner a smiling, leery admirer, who had teeth of every conceivable size, shape and colour.
6. The bus journey which was supposed to take five hours took seven instead, and made me re-evaluate my notions of what the phrase 'blazing heat' was supposed to mean.
7. Everybody had the most frightful fit of the sulks as a consequence. At one point I thought that VJF would kill the next person who said a 'Hi' to him.
8. The food at Pachmarhi was....very interesting. The chicken biryani at the Khalsa Restaurant should be called raw chicken and uncooked rice with fossilized onion rings on top.
9. The smart alec tour guide (there is ALWAYS one of those) had the temerity to tell me that I should shut up and climb the rest of the hill in silence for the trek to be 'complete'. ME. And I wasn't even being particularly loquacious. Should've pushed him back into the waterfall, but I figured that I didn't want to pollute something so beautiful.
10. The Rasoi Dhaba took an hour to serve us lunch, messed up our bill, and the tastiest thing I had was the soot from the mud stove that flew in and got mixed up with my food.
11. The three hundred very steep steps that led to the Bee Falls, that made me realize the exact position of every muscle in my thighs, and made my heart want to leap out of my body with sheer exhaustion.
12. The motley bunch of men at the waterfall who thought swimming trunks were unnecessary frills, and bathed in their underwear. Boys, swimming trunks are NOT a luxury, you made me want to gouge my eyes out AND ruined all the pictures. And do not presume to use my shoulder as a support for you to climb back down, you're all disgusting. And the woman who shampooed her hair in the waterfall should've been arrested. And the bunch of cheeky kids who thought that getting me drenched was a great idea, you will grow up to be exactly the kind of people who will travel ticketless in buses.
13. The waiter dropping dal on my head at dinner, and cleaning it up with the rag he used to clean all the other tables. He did tell all the other insensitive louts at my table to quit laughing, though. I forgive him.
14. I really did not want to see a dead puppy on the road.
15. The fact that the train back got diverted because of the accident, and took twelve hours extra through blisteringly hot Rajasthan. We had to drink boiling water all day, there was no food anywhere, and I have never felt so dirty in my life. I think it was meant to make us appreciate the relatively pleasant heat that tortures Delhi.
Yes, that's about it. Among other things, there are a lot of goodbyes to be said, which is bumming me out a little bit. I'm feeling a curious sense of deflation, now that I'm officially unemployed, and can no longer use my student status to not leave tips at restaurants. I'm also quite scared about what is to come, but that is no real novelty.