Around India in 45 days 

This dates to 1993. What was supposed to be a short honeymoon trip turned out to be an adventurous all India trip of 45 days, everything unplanned. We have travelled a lot in the past 29 years of our marriage, but if given another chance, I would love to relive those days. The innumerable memories we made, remain unmatched. The simplicity of the travel is what makes it different from travel in today’s times. Being hoteliers, we have travelled the world and have been privileged to stay in the most exotic properties of the Taj Group, but travelling impromptu then gave us a high.

Post our marriage, we decided to visit Kathmandu and then proceed to Bengaluru, where my husband was working. After a couple of days in Kathmandu, curfew was imposed due to some unrest, so we decided to shift to the Taj property, and we literally did it at the gunpoint of a police officer. It was scary, but fortunately we were safe. Since we weren’t allowed to leave the hotel, we spent quality time in the casino. It was a unique experience with flashy ambience and the thrill of winning, though insignificant amounts, was exhilarating.

Then impromptu we decided to visit my closest friends in Kharagpur, where I had spent my childhood. We booked our train tickets and off we went with our backpacks. The fun of traveling in a train is completely lost in today’s fast paced life. Today, in the desire to reach the destination quickly, we compromise on the travel experience. When we landed unannounced at my friend’s house, she was pleasantly surprised. The place made me nostalgic. To have homemade food cooked by her mother brought back childhood memories. The pickles that aunty packed in her tiffin daily were relished by us in school. All those memories came flooding.

After a couple of days there, Sushil, my husband, and I bought tickets for Bhubaneswar to revisit the college we both had graduated from. The whole planning was extremely exciting. We were received with great warmth by the Principal and our teachers. Revisiting the classrooms took us back to those fun-filled carefree days. We added another set of memories to our album.

It was a short visit and before we headed for Bengaluru, we decided to take a detour to Chennai where my brother worked in a hotel. Again, we bought tickets across the counter, and travelled RAC (Reservation against cancellation). Fortunately, we had great co-passengers who accommodated us, and we managed to take a nap on this overnight journey. We landed unannounced at my brother’s house (phones were a rarity in those days). He was happy to host us and pampered us unendingly. He ensured that we were treated to the best local cuisine and enjoyed the hospitality of the South.

Finally, we reached Bengaluru where a pleasant surprise awaited us. Sushil’s boss gifted him 10 days stay at Taj Fort Aguada Hotel, Goa for the wedding. So without wasting time, off we were to Goa by overnight bus. Goa used to be the Maldives of current times, a honeymooner’s paradise. We thoroughly enjoyed the pristine beaches, night bazars, swaying palm and coconut trees with cool and comfortable shacks offering a variety of refreshments, the crumbling ramparts of the Aguada Fort, lazy afternoons, siesta times, and last but not the least, bike rides on rainy days. It was one of the best trips ever. We also managed to spend some fun times with friends from college who were working in hotels there.

Finally, it was time to say goodbye to gorgeous Goa, with a promise to return soon. We returned to Bengaluru and Sushil had to complete a few formalities before his relocation to Delhi Taj Hotel. It took us 45 days to complete our entire trip, and each day remains deeply etched in our minds and hearts. Travel made us wiser with these unique experiences.

Nisha Tandon