Saturday, January 16, 2010

Chronicles of Nainital :The Tal, The Mall and the Fall - Day 2

Tourists are generally considered sources of revenue. It’s been that way for so long that tourism has been actively encouraged by governing bodies. Till now, the prominent means by which any tourist place earns income has been through the following ways – spending on one’s accommodation, food etc, revenue due to site seeing and shopping in some places. The ingenuity of Madhavi was such that she added new categories to those existing ones. Iam not sure if that would qualify as a discovery or an invention, whatever it maybe, Madhavi’s contribution to tourism industry will be remembered for ages to come. Coming to the point, the new sources of revenue which Madhavi identified & generously contributed towards were the ‘Electricity and Tele-Communication”. Iam sure that both the Nainital electricity department and the Airtel’s Nainital branch would have garnered huge revenues in our 3 days stay @ Nainital. Once we returned back after the Day 1 site seeing, we were tired and eager to hit the sack as soon as we can. But then there was one person who was involved in some serious business. Iam not sure if Madhavi was in commando’s unit. She took out her cell phone and started speaking over the phone, - Madhavi here, over and out. You hear me. She would dial every contact she had in her phone memory. She would then narrate the day’s incident + her triumphant visit of all stores in one particular place. Then the cycle would repeat for the next person. But since we were at a high altitude, the signal was comparatively weak and it would come and go. She would then take her cell phone and walk along the areas where the signal strength was better. Iam sure she would have occupied the entire bandwidth which the company would have had. (There was a power cut around 9pm, once we returned back to the hotel. I wonder who would have warned the Nainital electricity board about the impending danger. But as callous Indians always are, they didn’t heed to the warning and the current came back in sometime.

After her secret conversations, she would then put her cell phone to charge for the whole night..,. [When we had arrived at Nainital was a peak season time. And no wonder the hotel room rents were sky high. For a small 2 bed room, the charge was 750 Rs (with Geyser facility), without Geyser – Rs.600. At that time, I had been thinking that we had overpaid the hotel owner. But then looking back now, it doesn’t seem a bad deal. The reason being the extra money the owner had taken away from us, would be peanuts when compared to that month’s electricity bill. Iam sure he would still be left scratching his head when he would have a look at his monthly bill and wonder the reason behind it.] Iam not sure about it, but if you do get a local Nainital newspaper, Iam sure this incident would have found a special mention.

Day 2 started early and we got ready by 9am. After a short breakfast, we went on to see the Naina Peak. There were few people who were quoting the charge for the Naina peak trip. He had a list of chosen places and then each place had separate charges. One could choose the places he wished to visit and pay the amount. There were 6 places in total and the amount was Rs.490. We would have agreed to it readily except that the Jahnavi effect had influenced us too. So the sleeping lion within each of us was aroused and we took it up to fight for the best bargain. The intensity to strike a best bargain was so much that even Ajitha, who normally is so active and jumpy (that once she stands in a place, she will ensure that there is a least displacement of her from tat place, unless of an absolute necessity) even chipped in and contributed her bit in bargaining with the tour person. Finally after successive attempts to strike a deal, the tour person was ready to accommodate the whole Naina peak site seeing for 320 bucks. Madhavi, who by virtue of being along with Jahnavi has the maximum rub off effect, wanted a bargain for 300 bucks. But we had also to consider the fact that the tour fellow had a family to feed and we didn’t want to become a reason for him becoming unemployed. We agreed to Rs.320, once Jahnavi finally nodded her approval conveying the fact that you amateurs have a long way to go, anyhow for first timers, this is the best you could have done.

An Omni van arrived and it took us to the uphill place. Around 40-50 horses were standing along the path way. The horses would be our mode of travel during the peak climbing. Each of us climbed (rather were helped to climb) on a horse each. One free advice which I would like to give, is never let know the horse-owner or the tour operator who is having the money. Iam not sure how those people got to know it, they had their own way of paying us back for the hard bargain we had with them. They helped me onto a horse and when I was about to feel good about it and was commenting to my friends to be careful, the horse started moving. It was all well, until the time, I realized that my horse didn’t had any escorts while my friend’s horse had an escort each. You have to be there to understand my situation. The pathway was very narrow and it was a mountainous path. My horse was supposed to lead the other horses. While all my friends had a person holding on to the reins of the horse, I was left dangling on to my horse, as it starting moving. On both the sides you can see the deep pitfall. A wrong step and one can as well enjoy a whole year in a hospital ward.

I hadn’t really cared about how many senses the horses had, but at that moment I was praying to God to give them 7 senses, so that it remains in a sane mind and sticks to its path. While my friends were admiring the beauty along the way, I was left holding onto my dear life and the rein and mumbling ancient Mayan’s incantations!! ! The journey was in a way enlightening too, because the horse would take a path which would be easier for it. The road was strewed with big stones, hence the horse would move over to the side of the road which had plain path. But,I learnt how to control and make the horse turn left/right and make it stop. We stopped at Land’s end, Tiffin Top (from where we had a beautiful view of the Gigantic Himalayan ranges) and saw Amitabh Bachan's school.

One thing worth mentioning here is the agility of Ajitha which was simply amazing. The moment she climbed on to the horse, she confidently started directing her horse along the mountain path and gestured continuously to her horse to go the right way. And whenever she would see a scenic place, she would immediately get down and then ask us to follow her. She would then go and pose for the photo and after happily taking few shots would continue her ride. (The last 4-5 sentences were the yearning of Ajitha’s inner soul. As said before, Ajitha was an epitome for stillness and a great deal of lessons has to be learnt from her for any person looking forward to living a spiritualistic life. Wise sage recommend that there has to be stillness in the thoughts, but then Ajitha went ahead and displayed stillness in both her thoughts and actions. She lent a new meaning to the word ‘tranquility’. Anyhow, for personalized coaching, you better contact her. Then we descended back on a steep road. The horses were being literally made to suffer and it was disheartening to see that they were taken for a next immediate journey as soon as we came back.

We had already arranged a Qualis for the trip to see all the lakes in and around Nainital, namely the - Sattal, Bhimtal, Bhowali, Naukuchiyatal and Hanuman Garg Temple. Sat Tal or seven lakes is located at a distance of 20 KM from Nainital. Bhimtal is named after one of the five Pandva brothers is the biggest lake of the area. At a distance of 22 KM from Nainital this lake is 1701 meter in length and 454 meter in width. There is an old temple by the side of the lake. We planned to have our lunch in any of the Tal places. The mountain route was awesome and the scenery along the pathway was too beautiful. Our first destination was Bhimtal. Jahnavi and Ajitha were feeling tired so we left them in the car and went around having a look. There were a number of ducks in the lake, and few were sun bathing. Uday was able to shoot a close range video at the same time giving instructions to the duck on giving different poses, to the extent that any director with a frame saying ‘action’ might have been prompted to get in touch with Uday for movie lessons.

We returned back by 7, as there is a rule that vehicles coming into Nainital after 8 wouldn’t be allowed in. Due to the approaching New Year eve in a day or two, the security was increased in many places and we had our vehicle checked at 2 checkpoints. We got down at the far end of the Mall road, and then started our way back. Iam not sure if you have seen a forward which says that when a Man wants to do a shopping, he enters a shop does his shopping and gets it done. The same thing, when a woman wants to do, she goes into every store which doesn’t have the intended merchandise, and then enters the targeted shop finally. We had that happening for real. The girls would be following us when suddenly they would vanish in thin air. We would look around for them to realize that they had entered a shop and would be gauging some shop’s merchandise. After sometime we got used to the trend but couldn’t do anything. The girls were insistent of blessing every shop on the road so I and Uday left them to heed to their hobby and we went ahead.

I have to convey my gratitude to Jahnavi for sharing her knowledge on gift selection. I had wanted to buy a small gift for someone. I don’t know why but anything I choose was branded ‘cheesy’. For e.g., I would take a small memento with a heart symbol and Jahnavi would look at it sardonically and then reproach me having choosing such a silly thing. Somehow, I was able to master (hopefully) the art of selecting gifts. We purchased some souvenirs and had a hot dinner at a Punjabi dhaba, then got back to our den. As I drifted off to a peaceful slumber, I could hear a voice – “Roger, over and out. Madhavi here. Can you hear me?”

1 comment:

srinath said...

Nice post da....very funny and informative could detail each and every moment of your journey.Post had many elements to learn . Keen observer, epitome of stillness, the ultimate bargainers,and the magic curtain cloth:-):-):-).Looking forward for your third part