I have completed 100 days of the journey, a memorable century indeed. It is memorable for the wonderful people I met, the glorious places I visited, the educative and informative discussions I had, the renewed relationships, the great foods I enjoyed, the comfortable rest houses I stayed in, the cultural diaspora I got exposed to and revision of geography lessons taken in school. All this was made possible by an absolutely unique combination of friends, batch mates, relations and acquaintances. I thank each and every one of them for the unforgettable experiences.
I have mentioned in the past posts that the Indian Railways is my third parent and railwaymen are my extended family. Every visit to a railway environment provides an opportunity to live this out. Deepak Dave provided me with one such when he asked me over for the farewell lunch organized in honor of Vinay Mittal. The setting was perfect. The Kothari Farms is a sprawling landscaped farm house; the sun was out after many days of ‘rest’. Traffic Officers and HoDs turned out in large numbers to thank Mittal for his contributions to NWR and wish him a successful stint in SER. The Farewell function was also an occasion to welcome the new incumbent. Both were received by Deepak in traditional style by presenting them with a turban. Compositions were sung (it would be appropriate to say that they attempted this with all sincerity!) extolling the contributions of Mittal and a few speeches later it was time to feast. After the lunch, a group photograph was arranged. I got a couple taken too. The get together brought me face to face with many old friends after many years (such as Mahesh Mehta, the CSTE, who I was meeting after 22 years) and made new ones. The greatest joy, naturally, was to ‘catch up’ with three IRTS batch mates. GL Meena has grown so large that it was devilishly delightful to pose for a few pictures with him – it made me look and feel fit and ‘undergrown’.
The Jaipur Club is located on Railway land and hence, railway officers are automatically members of the Club. AKP and I decided to meet there after 7 pm for cocktails and dinner. When I was leaving for the rendezvous Sudhir rang up to say that he would be reaching Jaipur soon. I requested him to join us at the Jaipur Club. The premises are well maintained and the Club has good facilities, including that for squash racquets. I settled for a cold beer when AKP chose to have his Scotch. While sipping the beer the Bearer informed that Baccardi Black is available. That’s my favorite dark rum and I changed courses. The arrival of Sudhir added further spice to the conversation. When friends meet, especially after a long interval, time zips by. There is so much to tell and know. The large helpings of Chicken starters and Fish Amritsari supplied with the drinks precluded the possibility of a formal dinner. India’s victory in the T20 in South Africa sent us home in a good frame of mind.