The first time we heard of Chokhi Dhani was way back in 1998. Veena and her husband planned to spend New Year’s Eve at Chokhi Dhani and she told me it was an ethnic resort. We went there for the first time in 1999 and it was quaint and pretty. Then we visited it many times after that. Some of the interesting memories associated with Chokhi Dhani are going there with Deepa and Kapil when Manya was a toddler and Kapil and she just ate the tiny blobs of butter that they served with the Bajra roti :). Then we all tried our hand at the Potter’s wheel and didn’t manage to make anything of any shape except Kapil.
Then the trip when I went with Dhruv, Nitin, Jayant and Anupam – right after an All Managers Meet. Dhruv forced Jayant to eat the “Bajra Kichada” saying it will impact his appraisal rating and then we got him some “hari chutney” (mint chutney) to make him eat whatever was on his plate. Fun days.
We celebrated our 2012 anniversary at Chokhi Dhani because I had to be at my ISB MBA class the next week. Krishnan had a lot of pain in his ankle due to a calcaneal spur…. and we didn’t really enjoy the food much on that visit.
On 28th evening, we went to Chokhi Dhani again, this time with Subbu and his family. Subbu is a very dear friend for the past 30 years and am sure 2018 will be a special year as we are ringing it in with Subbu. What an amazing journey we have had together – Krishnan and Subbu met in MILT, then I met Subbu during the same MILT management program where I met Krishnan. The days when I was in Vizag and Krishnan and I would speak everyday on the phone and the bills were smuggled to Subbu so that he could pay them without my mom-in-law knowing :). The preparations for Subbu’s wedding to Prema, and selecting the saris for her. The time when Subbu supported us through our business fiasco … unbelievable. Many friendships were lost during that period, but this was and is a super special friendship that survived that scare. Rishi, his first born and Kaavya his daughter, whom we met much later in 2005 when she was old enough to connect me to “Bindu appalam”.
This was our first opportunity to interact a little more deeply with Rishi and Kaavya and it was heart warming to see the best of Subbu and Prema come through in both of them. They are warm, loving and as uncomplicated as Prema is and have the grit and determination to succeed that Subbu has. Ofcourse they do have some of their individual quirks and one has taken after one parent a little more than the other, but that does happen. We all enjoyed matching Prema and my mother’s special traits and there are nearly 150 tick marks for the similarities they have 🙂 Its uncanny how similar they are.
It took us about 90 minutes to reach Chokhi Dhani … just 22 kms away from Om Niwas. The crowds there rivalled a mini Kumbh Mela, and it was more like “choking Dhani”. We got tickets and went to eat dinner right away as the crowds there were swelling. We managed to find a table at the buffet place rather than the sit down restaurant. The lighting was a little insufficient but the service was great and the food was of course outstanding. I had a couple of helpings of my favourite “Bajra Khichada” and a few Bajra rotis. It was great to see steel plates being handed out for the buffet dinner, but plastic spoons were being given rather than steel ones. I wish they shift to steel spoons rather than the plastic ones. Also for water it was plastic cups :(. After dinner we walked around the place and took one “groupie” – all thanks to Rishi’s height. We went to the “Dilli Haat” equivalent there called the artisan village.
The next day Subbu and family went to Amer fort after we ate Rawat ke Kachori for breakfast … how can we miss that ? Everyone loved the kachoris. There is something special about them for sure.
The reason I want to mention this trip to Amer is because it took them two hours to just reach Amer’s car queue … they would have taken another two hours to reach the top if they had chosen to stay in the car and guess what, the trip was for four hours only. So anyone planning a trip to Jaipur during December needs to remember that its peak tourist season and there will be enormous delay everywhere. Subbu and family got off the car and walked up to the Amer fort and managed to see the different places there. They got back to the hotel an hour later than planned.
We left from Jaipur around 2.30 pm and reached back home only by 8 pm after an hour’s break for a late lunch at Bikanerwala. There were a couple of traffic jams along the way especially in those stretches where the flyover’s are yet to be completed and the four lane road suddenly becomes a single or two lane road. The truck traffic also seems to be at an all time high.
Yesterday, we had booked Subbu and family on the “Volvo bus” day trip to Agra through “HoHo holidays”. Krishnan and I went to INA market to drop them off in the morning and it was bitterly cold at 10 degrees. The bus reached late by 45 minutes and as soon as they got onto the Yamuna Expressway, Subbu whatsapped us to say there was thick fog so the going was slow. They managed to see the Taj and Agra fort but couldn’t see Mathura and Vrindavan as the fog was quite bad. The return trip to Delhi was even worse with the fog being really thick and visibility was down to just a few metres. The fog cleared up completely when they turned into Greater Noida and they still managed to reach back home by 12.30 am.
Another note to all the travelers to Delhi during December – fog can fog out some of your sight seeing plans.. even though this year it has been less of a problem.
Today we all just sat down and chatted like we used to in Chennai, and Krishnan and I got an opportunity to bug Rishi and Kaavya. Its so much fun when our friends’ children are stuck with us and we can give “gyan” and for us, its always fascinating to see how open minded and chilled out the youth are. We are yet to come across any 18 to 25 year old who is cynical and stressed out about what to do in life …. they are also many times quite clear on what they want to do or not do and have a lot more exposure to politics than we had at that age.
A great way to end 2017 and start 2018 … Happy New Year everyone. May 2018 be better than 2017 in every way for everyone.