Chennai Chronicles: The Long Weekend

11th August 2016, 10am: 1500+ tickets available from Chennai to Bengaluru on KSRTC site for 12th August night. My procrastinating mind chooses to wait until the evening to book the tickets for the long weekend (yup…bad decision).

11th August 2016, 4pm: 20 tickets available on KSRTC site, none of them matching the timing that suit me. It was only then that I realised that approximately one and a half thousand people beat me to booking a ticket in quite a short span of time. I dejectedly booked the tickets for the SRS Travels bus leaving on early on the morning of August 13th, wondering about the major part of the day that would be wasted travelling. To cheer myself up, I chose to watch the latest Hrithik Roshan starrer Mohenjo Daro with a flatmate the night before the departure (another bad decision…the movie turned out to be a colossal disappointment).


13th August 2016:

Jumping out of the bed like a ninja on realizing that I overslept, I hurried to reach the Koyambedu bus stop in time. I turned out to be pretty lucky though, as I somehow managed to reach an entire hour before the departure. For a really badly planned trip, the day went pretty well – the lady sitting next to me was pretty good company and I honestly didn’t realize how the time passed. A few hours later I was greeted by the pleasantly cloudy and drizzly Bengaluru weather and my cousin who picked me up from Madiwala on his bike. After relishing the Dahi wada and puran poli, we treated ourselves to shopping at Commercial Street, followed by Chaat at Anand’s.


14th August 2016:

The second day was even more memorable than the first, as I got to enjoy an ice-cream at Creamstone Ice-creams after hogging on warm spicy momos with my brother. Seeing the ice-cream being prepared and served was an experience in itself – the ice-cream and the “toppings” were smashed together on an icy table and served in a bowl made of crunchy waffle. The Fresh-Fruit-and-Nuts ice-cream is definitely worth a shot, and tasted much better than I expected it to.


The remainder of the day was spent listening to old Hindi songs, chatting, and reading the eighth instalment of the Harry Potter series – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Although reading a play after so many years was a refreshing experience, I was slightly disappointed with the story.


15th August 2016:

My last day in Bengaluru was the best of all. It began with a bang – an impromptu plan to visit Nandhi Hills (Nandhibetta as they call it) at 4 in the morning! A 70km drive to watch the hills was one of the things I least imagined. Draped in warm clothing, my uncle, aunt, brother and I set out to see the sun rise over the misty hills. Expecting a deserted road, we were taken aback by the sheer number of people on bikes who set out to the hills at the same time as us. The business of the tea vendors was in full swing – the bikers would stop at a tea stall whenever it became too cold to ride.


We were greeted by freezing fresh air and the hills in a shroud of mist as we took the turn from the main road, not to mention acres of lush greenery. Nature was definitely at its best at 5.30am.

6Assuming that we would get to enjoy the sunrise from the top, we made our way to the entrance gate, tailing about thirty other cars. Too bad, we learnt that the place would be open to visitors only at 6am. After a decent amount of waiting our car moved past the gate, only to be reduced to a snail’s pace a couple of kilometres later. We ultimately ended up locking the car up and walking.

It was interesting to see many people choose something similar. We walked back to the car after half an hour of drenching ourselves in nature’s beauty and bounty and enjoying the misty coolness of the morning breeze. We made our way back to the city after a hurried breakfast at a restaurant at the base of the hill. We were welcomed by another huge set of people waiting for the gate to be opened again at the base – apparently the number of vehicles that visited the place as it opened was so huge that they had to close the gate until a considerable number of people came back down! By the time we reached back home, it was approximately 9.30am.

Spending a good chunk of the day catching up on some well-needed sleep, we watched movies such as Rangitaranga and Thithi. The evening was pretty much fun – I had been looking forward to the one thing I absolutely love Bengaluru for – Death By Chocolate (DBC) at Cornerhouse Ice-cream. Although it is the most tempting, fattening and indulgent thing possible, I love every bite of it – and my brother spares no occasion to spoil me. After another delicious plate of warm and mildly spicy momos we went back home to pack up. I really didn’t feel like leaving Bengaluru – it is practically my home, and I am surely in love with it.

The journey back to Chennai was a funny memory in itself. I had booked a semi-sleeper seat in the Airavat bus leaving at 11pm. My brother and aunt came to see me off. Fortunately we managed to reach Shanthinagar bus stop (the starting point of the journey) sufficiently before the departure time. There was one guy though, who didn’t know where exactly the bus was going to be, and thus called up the caretaker of the bus asking him for directions to the bus, and also to wait a little. Shanthinagar bus stop is a big place, and can get a little confusing at times (we ourselves took about 10 minutes to find the place!). Interestingly the frequency of his calls increased as the departure time neared. 4 calls in 7 minutes was enough to have the caretaker super-annoyed and everyone else in splits! The funniest part of the incident was when the passenger finally made it to the stop. Every person standing on the sidewalk but him knew his bus, and pointed it out together. Even the caretaker laughed out loud this time.

Getting a seat behind the driver was the highlight of my night-travel adventure. Although he had pulled the divider down so as to help us avoid the light glares, stray beams of light occasionally hit my eyes. I would often catch glimpses of the road ahead from the side. To my tired eyes everything appeared to be moving at an inhuman speed – almost as if the driver was playing a game of NFS. I don’t know when exactly I fell asleep, although I do know that falling asleep was a task in itself. The journey ended a few hours later as the bus pulled up to the stop at the Koyambedu Bus Terminal at Chennai, and I prepared myself for another adventure soon.


Bengaluru Diaries: The Metro Experience

Most of my wishlist came true in the final weeks of my stay – I visited Cornerhouse Ice-cream and had their signature ice-cream: Death by Chocolate (DBC, as it is fondly known, is all about vanilla ice-cream topped generously with thick warm chocolate sauce and garnished with a handful of peanuts and a few cherries). It was the best experience ever, as I could feel different flavours exploding in my mouth.

At the beginning of my stay, I had expressed my desire to experience Namma Metro (I had been inspired to try out the service ever since I heard my cousin Nikhil speak about it) to my uncle and aunt. My wish finally came true on my last Sunday at Bengaluru.


Presently the Metro line runs from Baiyapannahalli to M G Road. We boarded the train at the Indira Nagar station. I was left awestruck from the very moment we stepped off the escalator. I had never experienced Metro before, and thus every second was special. Everything seemed unreally beautiful – right from the very idea of using reprogrammable tokens in place of tickets, to the markings on the platform informing about the entrances. The way the metro station was maintained in itself was enough to render me really impressed and proud. We sat on the chairs waiting for our train to arrive.

The train was bright and really well maintained. The 4.5 km journey ended pretty quickly – I really wished it had been a little longer, as the views outside looked pretty good – a stream of red and yellow lights at various places. I couldn’t see much though, as it was pretty dark. The most amazing spectacle was the Brigade Road area. In stark contrast to the surrounding areas, the place was bustling with life.

We alighted at MG Road station and proceeded towards Brigade Road. My aunt explained to me that the place was one of the biggest commercial centres in the city, and that it almost resembled the NY Times Square on New Years’ eve. As we had made an impromptu trip and had no specific place in mind, we decided to keep walking. It was quite a walk – the ambience coupled with the cool monsoon breeze gave the evening a completely different flavour. Various shops lined either side of the road – popular brands to trendy street shopping, the place had it all. We found a few gems on exploring – the most memorable one was Pohieer’s Kulfi. Fig and Honey was a really good combination, and tasted heavenly. After enjoying a donut at Dunkin Donuts, we went for a celebratory dinner at Pizza Hut (celebrating the successful completion of my internship).

We decided to take a walk at MG Road before boarding a Metro train back to Indira Nagar station. The long track starting from the M G Road Metro station entrance had a lot to offer apart from good views of MG Road and a couple of cozy restaurants. The place was pretty artful, although simple. We saw a few iconic buildings – Barton Centre and the Higginbothams Bookstore. The huge chandelier in the Joyalukkas was one of the grandest things that caught my eye that evening.


We walked to the station and bought tokens for the journey back home. I spent most of the ten-minute long journey thinking about all the amazing memories that I had had. There couldn’t have been a more befitting end to my stay.

Bengaluru Diaries: Guhantara (Part 1 of 2)

I feel really blessed to have spent my summer in Bengaluru, and even more so being able to spend time with my relatives. The presence of my cousins is like the icing on the cake, as there isn’t a single dull moment when I am around them. My cousin Nikhil had flown in from Ithaca a couple of weeks ago after graduating from Cornell, and decided to host an outing/party for the entire extended family in Bengaluru. Another reason to celebrate was his younger brother Nitin’s stellar performance in IITJEE-2015.

My Sunday began with stuffing my small backpack hurriedly until there wasn’t even an inch of space left. Anil Uncle and Chinna Aunty were on their way to pick me up, and the last thing I wanted to do was delay them. The three of us picked my cousin sister Nitya, and embarked on an hour long journey to Guhantara Resort. The last time all of us met was for my cousin Vinayak’s wedding, and the thought of meeting them again and have a fun-filled Sunday instantly planted a huge smile on my face. The journey was fun as we joked about a lot of things. Nikhil had requested everyone to be there as early as possible as breakfast buffet ended at 10.30am. We teased Anil Uncle saying that he would have to treat us to breakfast if we missed the buffet. Fortunately for him, we reached the resort 45 minutes before the buffet ended.


True to its name, the place seemed like a cave (Guha) at first. “Second Left” said the receptionist, after checking the details and guiding us to the Amphitheatre, where breakfast was being served. The route to the amphitheatre was rocky and dark – the cave did look pretty authentic. The amphitheatre itself looked great – there was a nice waterfall-pool and a bamboo bridge connecting opposite ends of the pool. There also was a raised platform for live music. The thing that really stood out was the web-like structure in the centre of the ceiling. It really left us wondering for a bit, until it struck us that it was for the Rain-Dance. We spotted Nikhil in a grey Cornell hoodie and started chatting with him while sipping on the welcome drink. Nikhil was expecting about 30 of us, and more than half of the group was there by the time the 4 of us reached. Nikhil himself had reached a couple of hours earlier to make sure that everything planned went on smoothly.

I was thrilled to see Nitin after quite a while. He has really shot up in height – the last time I saw him, he was a little bit taller than I was. He is now a LOT taller than I am! In a matter of a few minutes we were joined by my cousin Samarth’s family. After chatting for a while, Nitin distributed the coupons to the breakfast buffet. The buffet was pretty well planned. The South Indian cuisine was perfect for breakfast as it was filling, and at the same time not too heavy on the stomach. Chinna Aunty, Nitya and I had a quick tour of the surroundings and found that Guhantara had three pools in total – a big pool, a small pool and the third on adjoining the amphitheatre. We joined the rest of the group on their way to the activity area, and passed by the Fish Pedicure on our way there. “If the fish actually eat up all the dead skin and leave us with glowing fairer skin, a fish facial makes more sense than the pedicure…Coz you see, people notice our face before our feet!” my cousin brothers joked.

Nitya, Rahul, Samarth and I first went to the indoor games area. Foosball caught our eye, as everything else was already being used. Rahul and I played against Samarth and Nitya. We used a Table-Tennis ball, as we couldn’t find anything else. After a couple of games, we moved on to Table-Tennis, and started a game of doubles. I wouldn’t say we were great at it, but being with cousins was certainly a lot of fun. Nikhil and Nitin joined us soon, and we played a couple of games with them. We kept playing TT waiting for our turn at Foosball, and waited for a bit. Finally, we asked the family at the Foosball table if they wanted to swap games. It turned out that exactly like our case, they wanted to play TT but were politely waiting for us to vacate! The Foosball match was another level of fun. Nikhil was clearly the Foosball Rockstar, as his team initially lead 5-1 in a 10 point match. As he got called for something, Nitin filled in for him. The match had a nailbiting finish, in which Nikhil’s team won by a really close margin of 10-8. With a feeling of satisfaction, we walked to the outdoor activity area.

The first activity that had my attention in the outdoor activity area was the Zorb. I had always wanted to try that one out, but never had the opportunity owing to too much crowd. Fortunately, our group was the first one there. Chinna Aunty had inaugurated the Zorb and told us that it was worth a shot. Nikhil got coupons for Nitya and me. The Zorb was an experience of a kind. We strapped in – ankle straps first, followed by the strap for the torso and then securing it with the strap for the waist. One could only hold on tight and enjoy the ride, as the Zorb would be controlled by the guy pushing it.

Nitya and I had a memorably insane experience. While first part of the experience was okay, as I had a feeling of falling forwards. Just before the guy controlling the direction of the Zorb reversed it, the strap securing Nitya’s torso came off. We noticed that the only things supporting her were the waist and ankle straps. We both screamed trying to get the attention of the guy controlling the Zorb, who incidentally stopped the Zorb only when Nitya was at the highest point! He helped her out after by securing the strap. Thankfully, the remainder of the ride didn’t have any more surprises, except for the scary feeling of falling backwards. The minute-long experience was one way to kick-start our adventure. As we both squeezed out of the tiny cavity, Samarth joked that our screams could be heard from a 100 metres away! Rahul and Samarth went soon after us, and fortunately, their experience was much more comfortable.

After everyone was done with the Zorb, we moved on to the outdoor games for the next half-hour. I learnt that Cricket not only influences people, but also unites them. And this time it was really a lot more special because it was not just the youngsters playing – in fact, the elders were the core of the game. Anand Uncle (Nikhil’s dad) and Anil Uncle enjoyed every moment on the field. I could truly see the glow in their eyes as their bats connected with the ball and flicked it away. Personally, I felt that this part was the most magical of all – we got to see our elders enjoy their childhood again.

The energy and enthusiasm of my uncles and cousin brothers was infectious – it kicked up everybody’s energy levels by a few notches. Chinna Aunty suggested renting badminton racquets and shuttles, and soon enough everything was ready. Nitya and I joined them for a while. It was the first time in so many years I saw all of my aunts play and thoroughly enjoy themselves – even though a few of them were in sarees, it didn’t seem to slow them down. We played until it became too sunny and then decided to explore the other activities that Guhantara had to offer.

Here is the link to the next part of the post –

For the video capturing our best moments, here is the link –

Bengaluru Diaries: HAL Aerospace Museum

Ever since I arrived in Bengaluru I have stayed at my aunt’s. The level of fun I used to have escalated greatly when my cousin Vinayak joined us for a couple of weeks. I remember the fights we had for hours together as kids (The fights usually ended with me crying and him getting scolded for making me cry). We didn’t interact much for years after that. Now that we are both grown up, I realised what all I missed out on.

I have come to realize that having an older brother is really cool, once you grow up. Once you realize you share quite a lot of things and enjoy similar stuff, it’s like you have found a really good friend. One of the most memorable moments I have here is visiting the HAL Aerospace Museum here (HAL stands for Hindustan Aeronautics Limited). Although I had passed by quite a few times, I had never actually visited it. So when he offered to take me there, I was stoked.

The HAL Museum is India’s first Aerospace Museum. It essentially gives an insight into the progress and growth of HAL over the years. The company has an encouraging progress since 1940, and has played an instrumental role in modernization of the Indian Air Force.

Visiting the museum on a Monday afternoon was a pretty good idea, as there was hardly any crowd. We began with the Fighter Jet Simulator Ride. The simulator is the highlight of the place, and there is almost always a crowd there. Fortunately for us, my brother and I were the only people in queue that day, and it felt slightly special because they switched it on just for us. Although it was just 10 minutes, I enjoyed every bit of it.

After the Simulator we went on to see different displays of aircrafts. Seeing them filled me with a sense of wonder and pride. Maybe I feel a bit patriotic when I say this – I could feel the years of ideas, knowledge and effort culminate and take shape when I saw the displays. The feeling was indescribably fantastic. The breeze and the drizzle only added to the magic of the moment. My favourites there were DRDO Lakshya – a Pilotless Target Aircraft and HAL Ajeet – a Subsonic Trainer Jet and a Fighter Aircraft. The display of Sea King Mk. 42 looked just majestic. Looking at a smaller model of the PSLV with a scale of 1:10, I was amazed to see how huge the full size Heat Shield actually was.

We moved on to look at the engines models after that. The museum has a lot of engine models too on display. My interest was piqued looking at the Adour Mk-811 Engine, which is used in Jaguar Fighter Aircraft. Looking at the model (and thinking about the PSLV example), I couldn’t help but wonder how huge the engine would be in reality. We also visited the Heritage Museum, which captures the 70+ glorious years of HAL since its inception.

Needless to say I was really inspired by the experience and very thankful to my brother for making it the most memorable Monday ever.

For those of you who wish to visit the Aerospace Museum in the near future, here are a few tips –

  • The Museum premises are clean and neatly maintained
  • As the museum is not too big, it can be covered in a couple of hours, or 3 at max.
  • The museum is open to public from 9am to 5pm on all days.
  • Extra charges for still cameras are applicable.
  • The entry fee is really reasonable. It was about ₹10 per head.
  • The simulator experience was a lot more reasonable than I had imagined – ₹10 for 10 minutes.
  • Try visiting on a weekday (especially Monday) afternoon, as there is hardly any crowd.

Bengaluru Diaries: Sunday with Cousins

This week was pretty exciting, as I explored a little more of Bengaluru and also got to spend time with my cousins. In the post about my uncle/cousin’s marriage, I had spoken about missing the company of the Gang-leaders. Well, as it turns out, my cousin Nikhil was planning to visit India soon. Although I knew that a visit here was on the cards, I didn’t know exactly when. He gave me a pleasant surprise by telling me that he was already in Bengaluru, and that he wanted to meet up. I was more than happy to, and we decided to spend the Sunday at our cousin Samarth’s house.

I found it very difficult to sleep on Saturday night, as my excitement knew no bounds. Nikhil is notorious for his perfect time sense, and I didn’t want to disappoint him by being late. I ended up setting 4 alarms (I woke up when the second one rang), so that we could reach just before breakfast. The morning was bright, and Nikhil was bang on time to pick me up. We decided to use the cab services for our 15+ km journey. I had never used an online cab service before, and my interest was piqued after reading how much the drivers earn in a week. We used Ola for the onward journey. Not only was the service fast, it was cheaper than rickshaws in Bengaluru and really comfortable. Not to mention, the driver was a lot politer than the rickshaw-guys.

Spending time with cousins and family really made my day. It was the best way to spend the Sunday. Cracking jokes and chatting for hours, we never understood how time passed. We enjoyed all the more by playing games. Who knew small games like Gully Cricket would lead to having the greatest amount of fun! Seeing Nikhil and Samarth playing brought back memories from Hubli last year.

Speaking of games, the three of us downloaded and installed FunRun2 on our phones, and had quite a bit of fun with it. I don’t mind playing that game for hours together – it is some fun. Playing the game with loved ones makes it all the more enjoyable. I particularly like the lightning power up – it really manages to annoy everybody else! As we chatted for a few moments before our departure, Nikhil mentioned something about planning an outing for the entire family before he left for USA. As Nikhil’s parties are one of a kind. I couldn’t be more excited.

For the journey back home, we chose Uber. I was amazed as the driver was there in less than 5 minutes. Although it was just an Indica, the cab was really well maintained and the ride was comfortable. Conversing with the driver, we learnt a little more about how the service exactly worked. Comparing the two cab services – Ola and Uber, I found the Uber experience a cut above that of Ola.

I feel that every day here is special, filled with its own share of surprises. Every week gives me something more to look forward to. Coming to Bengaluru was one of the best opportunities I could have had, and I am more than glad that I grabbed it.

Bengaluru Diaries: Lalbagh

I feel glad that Bengaluru is making me fitter. On a daily basis, I walk almost 5-7km, which is about the same as what I walked in Mumbai in a week on an average. The cool breeze and the trees make it pleasant to walk even on the hottest of afternoons.

The past few weeks have been going at eventfully at hyper speed – there was hardly any breathing time. First, back-to-back semester end exams…followed by a speedy flight to the Silicon Valley of India, the start of an internship and a cousin’s marriage! At the end of three weeks I finally got some time to unwind. I have come to learn that Sundays are a pretty rare commodity. I try to make each one of them more memorable than the last.

This weekend was pretty special for a bunch of reasons. The first one being meeting an old friend – Deepu. We go way back – I have known her since preschool. We sort of lost touch after finishing senior secondary school – she came to Bengaluru for her college, while I chose to stay back in Mumbai. But now that I am in Bengaluru as well, I didn’t want to miss out on spending time with her. The second reason was getting a explore more of Namma Bengaluru! We decided to celebrate the Sunday with Lalbagh Botanical Gardens. It worked out perfectly as it was a break from the regular meetup venues like malls.

As we both live pretty far, we decided to meet up at a common point – Kempegowda Bus Station (Majestic) at about 11am. Owing to some miscalculation and the infamous Bengaluru traffic, Deepu ended up reaching almost an hour late. I spent the time listening to music, and observing people around me. I didn’t really realise how the hour went by. One of her close friends had also tagged along. I was more than happy to meet them both – it was a delight to have them around.


We decided to go to SP Road, which is more or less like tech heaven. Here, one can get electronic gadgets at cheaper than online prices. Narrow lanes and bustling shops lining both sides of the road is a characteristic of the place. However, it being a Sunday, the place was more or less deserted. I was rather fortunate to find a shop open. We hurried to grab a bite after that. 20 minutes of discussion regarding the choice of cuisine led to us finding ourselves in a stalemate. Finally, we decided to go to Mantri Square Mall (Deepu sulked as we had decided to stay away from malls) and grab some pizza. The mall was exactly the same as any mall – the same branded retail chains and the same restaurants in the food court. Visiting one mall is equivalent to visiting all of them! After a delicious slice of pizza at Sbarro’s we carried on. It was almost 2pm by now. Although the weather was sultry, it was very much bearable compared to Mumbai’s humid heat. Hopping into a rickshaw, we reached Lalbagh in a while.

Glass House

Glass House

My excitement got a double-boost when I heard that there was a Mango and Jackfruit Mela being hosted at Lalbagh. Mango Mela is essentially a month-long festival held in the peak of the mango season. The best part about it is that all the mangoes are organically grown, and are sold by the farmers directly. As there are no middlemen, the fruits are pretty economically priced (the price is regulated by the Karnataka State Government). The Mela invites farmers from all parts of Karnataka. I was surprised by the scale of the event, as more than 90 farmers participated in the event, selling numerous varieties of mangoes. I was completely taken aback when I found out that about 8000 tonnes of mangoes were sold at the last year’s Mela – a stall owner told me that on an average, he would about 2-4 tonnes in a day. On weekends, the sale would be even greater!

We chose to explore the park first. There was too much ground to be covered – 240 acres is quite a huge area. We passed by the floral clock on our way in (I was actually surprised to know that it worked perfectly, despite the huge size!). We walked for a while and then sat down in the damp grass, kicking off our shoes. It was a wonderful combination – bright afternoon (although the sun played hide-and-seek), abundance of trees, cool breeze, and sound of birds chirping. Nothing could possibly have made it better. Talking about our friends, school days and crazy memories we never realised how quickly an hour passed. Very lazily, we picked our bags up and walked towards the picturesque Lalbagh Lake. We enjoyed the scene for a few minutes and walked to the Glass House, munching on cucumber.


Lalbagh Lake


I really enjoyed the Mango Mela – we were spoilt for choice looking at the number of varieties present! I unfortunately had limited room in my bag and had to settle for a kilo of Totapuri and a dozen pieces of jackfruit. However, the mango stall-owners loved us. We felt like were singlehandedly responsible for almost half their business on a busy Sunday, because Deepu bought at least 7kg of different varieties of mangoes! It was only then it struck me why she had insisted on purchasing the fruits on our way out. We came across a lady selling fresh juice in three different flavours. We bought one each and shared. I have to say, the guava juice was one of the most delicious juices I have had in a while. The mango and pineapple flavours were tasty as well. We took a bus to Majestic, from where I caught another bus back home.

The Lalbagh experience was amazing – the serenity and beauty of the place was mindblowing. I am definitely going back for more! However, I feel the experience would have been even better had the park been maintained better.

Statue of

Statue of Sri Chamaraja Wodeyar

So if you are planning to visit Lalbagh anytime soon, here are a few things you should know in general–

  • The size. It’s a huge place, and if you plan to visit Lalbagh, it would be good to decide beforehand which attractions to enjoy.
  • Speaking of attractions, a few places of interest in Lalbagh are the Glass House, the Bandstand, the Lalbagh House, the Pigeon House, Statue of Sri Chamaraja Wodeyar, the Lalbagh Lake and the Aquarium.
  • A lot of courses are offered at Lalbagh – ranging from Ikebana and Bonsai, to Mushroom Cultivation. It is an important centre for horticulture.
  • A lot of programmes are organised at Lalbagh. They are publicised well in advance.
  • Videography is prohibited. In case you are carrying still cameras, you will have to pay extra.
  • Lalbagh hosts two flower shows annually at the Glass House, on occasions of Republic Day and Independence Day.

Bengaluru Diaries: The Wedding

The five of us sat in the hotel room playing a game of Raja-Rani-Chor-Police waiting for the other three to arrive. It was past 1 in the night, but sleep was one of the last things on my mind. Although I was the worst player in the game, I didn’t really care. All I wanted was to sit and chat with the amazing people whose company I enjoy the most.

As kids we awaited the summers with bated breath as it gave us a chance to meet up once again and share our school experiences. Hide-and-Seek was one of the games I enjoyed, even though I was no match for the others who found the most innovative places to hide. Sadly, the time zaps by. We suddenly have grown up, with our colleges and jobs. And that is the reason I grab every opportunity to spend time with my cousins, and cherish each moment all the more.

The special occasion which united us again after almost a year was my uncle/cousin’s (He’s actually my mom’s cousin, but almost the same age as my cousins…so I practically consider him one) wedding at Chitradurga. It had been about 12 hours since we reached there, and frankly, no amount of time I spent with them seemed to be enough.

Speaking of reaching Chitradurga, we reached there an hour before the groom himself (Well, it was Rahukala, an inauspicious time for the groom to arrive) and joked about the most random things while we waited for the remainder of our family to arrive.

Although it had been only my second week in Bengaluru, it felt really long. I haven’t really been without my family for long, and thus getting a chance to see my mom and sis was an added bonus. The icing on the cake was meeting my maternal grandmother. It felt like ages since I last saw her. Her face just lit up when she saw us at the wedding hall. I went down to her room in the evening after were allotted our rooms at a nearby hotel. Singing one of my favourite songs for her was one of the highlights of the trip for me. It just made me feel at peace, amidst all the chaos. She asked me to record and send her a few more (and that is definitely something I intend to do in the next couple of weeks).

The best part of the whole event for me was the reception in the evening. The lightning during the journey from the hotel to the hall (and the heavy rain on the way back) provided added to the wow factor of the event. The decorations were absolutely stunning. I really enjoyed the live classical music, however it was a shame that I recognised only one of the songs they played during the 3 hours of we spent there. Struggling to arrange our side of the family for the grand family picture was one of my most memorable 15 minutes of my life. The photographers had a hard time just making sure that everyone was visible. Meeting one of my youngest cousins – Advik was one of my most loved experiences. Although just 4 months old, he looked really amazing. I felt a little sad for the couple though, as everyone other than them had had a chance to go and enjoy the feast of a dinner.

At the hotel, we cousins had arranged for adjacent rooms, so that we could spend more time together. It was terribly late by the time we finished playing Raja-Rani-Chor-Police, but that didn’t stop us from playing Chain Reaction and Taboo. I especially loved Taboo, as it actually made us rack our brains hard (and managed to keep us awake). We were joined by our cousins who came from Goa at 2.30am. The eight of us played charades for an hour. It’s rather funny how high the decibel level goes while playing that game! We finally wrapped up at 3.45am and went to catch a few hours of sleep before the wedding ceremony in the morning. I really missed the company of my older cousins (or should I call them the gang-leaders?) as they were all abroad. I am sure we will find many more occasions to enjoy once they get back.

The wedding, like the reception the night before, was a grand event. And getting a chance to dress up for an occasion like that was an added bonus. We cousins had our own photo session, and needless to say, we enjoyed every bit of it. I can safely say that I will enjoy looking the weirdest of selfies in which we photobombed ourselves (I know it sounds absurd, but it was fun!) for the remainder of eternity. Revisiting crazy moments like these always brings a smile to my face.

While the others decided to visit the famous Chitradurga fort, my cousin Nitya and I changed into comfortable clothes for the bus journey back to Bengaluru that lay ahead. Three hours later, we found ourselves at Majestic, waiting to board another bus to get home.