gearhead3

Naukuchiatal - Far from the madding crowd

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Allow me to say right away that this is not a travelogue. There are no well-planned itineraries, route charts, time/distance logs and so on. It is simply a collection of memories over the years – starting from ‘97 and still ongoing – all centering around Naukuchiatal and our visits there and places nearby. It is also about the joy and fun we have received from our pets – our boxers Darth, Daisy and later Kluso and Pearl – who have accompanied us often in our travels. Pearl, by the way, is that comparative rarity, a white boxer or checkered boxer, as they are called in the parlance. So if we have let slip a few photographs of our extended canine family – nothing to do with our travels – then we crave your indulgence! Put it down to that blind spot all parents have towards the family.

I suspect that, like me, most other members here are car addicts for whom the journey itself - the drive - is the thing, and not so much the destination. But for us, Naukuchiatal is the exception that makes the rule! It is the one destination to which we always look forward to with anticipation - impatient for the drive to end. Also, we have never had a chauffeur, preferring to do our own driving at all times. And, after one major shunt on the Sitapur road outside Lucknow in 2012, we no longer drive after dark. My eyesight is not 6X6 now – I am 65+ – and I happily accept that prudence is the better part of valour! So now we stick to dawn-to-dusk driving during our travels.

 

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Traveling with an extended family

Traveling with pets in India is still not a recommended pastime. For a very good reason – even today there are very, very few establishments that are pet friendly. I have spent a night in Panjim, Goa, sleeping in the car – it was a Tata Sierra then – with Darth (Daisy hadn’t arrived on the scene yet), while my wife, daughter and her classmate slept on hotel beds! And this was not an isolated incident. Our stopover at Bodhgaya, on the way to Kolkata, is still an awful memory! Till we discovered that pet lover’s Holy Grail – the Circuit House/Dak Bungalow/ PWD Rest House and other establishments that dot our highways in satisfying numbers! There one usually found that after a minor consideration – of say a couple of hundred rupees, more nowadays I’m sure – the watchman/chowkidar was more than happy to let you and your pets stay the night. And in a pinch he would also prepare dinner for the family! There have been times when, after an exhausting day’s drive, we have wolfed down thick bajra rotis and hot arhar dal like Cordon Bleu! We normally carry pet food with us when traveling with them, so they have not suffered (though, at home, my wife invariably prepares home cooked food for them). The one cardinal rule we never break is to give them plenty of water while traveling and stop every few hours for them to ease themselves. A bursting bladder is just as excruciating for them as for us.

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