A few days before the start of this expedition Rajiv Mondkar surfaced on FB messenger with a request to visit his farm house in case I would be travelling on the Surat highway. I do not normally make unplanned detours from a daily schedule unless an emergency warranted it. Besides breaking the momentum it also disturbs the schedule. But Rajiv was persuasive. The warmth of his invitation and the insistence paid off. He agreed to call me up during the course of the expedition to finalise the arrangement to visit his farm, which was on the Maharashtra-Gujarat border. He got in touch when I was on the way to Thane and gave me detailed instructions.
The next stop had to be Daman where Seju Kuruvilla IPS was currently posted along with his wife Megha IPS. They had been posted in Arunachal Pradesh, where I got a lot of assistance from Seju, when he was Superintendent of Police, Lohit district, headquartered in Tezu. Megha was holding a similar charge of the adjoining district during my visit to Tezu in 2013. Between then and now their loving family has been blessed with the arrival of Meera Rose Kuruvilla. It was not difficult
to reach the VIP guest house in Daman. I met up with the
affectionate family over tea and snacks. With a brightly decked up car photo
sessions are a must before taking leave. So it was in the VIP guest house too.
Besides, Seju promised all assistance in Tezu on the final leg of the Trans
Himalayan Expedition, which included the Inner Line Permit, River crossing and
rest house accommodation.
Hetal and Rajiv Shah had connected with me on Facebook in April 2015 when I was on the return trip of the Cochin-Singapore-Cochin expedition. Rajiv runs an extremely successful travel agency in Surat (Network Tours and Travels). He is the first agent in India to successfully arrange a packaged road trip from India (Surat) to London, which he did in April 2015 for a group of four persons. When I visited Ahmedabad on work in June the lovely couple visited me there from Surat and we became good friends. It is fate that brings such friends into your fold, nothing more can be said. Therefore, it was only natural that I would spend an evening in Surat at their wonderful home during the current expedition.
Hetal is an amazing cook. I only felt bad that I could not do full justice to the superb desi fare she had laid out so elegantly on the dining table. The loving hospitality and the effortless ease with which she makes visitors comfortable is her wonderful nature. The dessert, which consisted of almond cake and chocolate sauce, typified the evening – sweet and most enjoyable.