Short drop at Bhopal. . .

I started writing this post on my way back from Bhopal, but due to my laziness, a month of illness and most importantly the complacent behavior towards writing since I started working has delayed everything infinitely [but more on that later]. When Dr. Chandra [director CIAE, Centre Institute of Agriculture Engineering, Bhopal] invited me to stay at the institute campus during my visit to Bhopal, I couldn’t have been happier.

It’s almost a year now since I completed my MBA and going back to college is one constant thought that has always been on my mind. Since I completed my MBA there have not been one single day on which I have not missed my college, and although on many occasions I have detested and cursed Amity, I actually missed being even in amity. As confessed in an earlier post and reiterating one of the follow-ups on Facebook, no matter how much we hate our college eventually we all will miss it one day; and for me that day came on my farewell.

Anyways I am not writing this post cribbing about the fact that I am no longer a college student, but about a short trip to Bhopal. The excitement of staying on a university campus was overwhelming and the moment I stepped onto the campus the flashbacks started. But it was not until till later in night that the real nostalgia took over.

We reached the campus by 3 and after a brief meeting with Dr. Chandra, and few other subordinates of his, and having an introduction to the basic machines there, by evening I was already tired and feeling sleepy. I missed to mention it earlier we took an early morning Shatabdi which left Delhi at 6 in the morning and reached Bhopal at 2 in the afternoon. For a 6’o clock train I woke up at 4 in the morning and left my house by 5 and reached New Delhi railway station by 5:30. So by 7 in the evening I did deserve some sleep.

When I woke up it was already 9 and after having dinner at the mess it was time to start exploring. As luck would have it, I don’t know why but during the month of February the institute was having holidays and no one was anywhere to be seen. At night in an agricultural institute [which has large farms and agricultural field all around] and feeling nostalgic about the good old days, it can’t get worse. My idea of staying there was to get in college life once again [even for a brief period of time], but nothing of that sort happened.

It is one among many practical jokes which life plays with you, whenever you need something badly enough you will never get it there and then. That was the time when I felt talking to some friend from college and crib about the present life, remember the good old days of college and the fun we had; to curse Amity and to berate the lecturers once again, and after failed attempts of calling different friends, I ended up in the room desperately trying to sleep after a three hour power nap.

Next day was about just a couple of meting in the institute in the morning and then leave for Bhojpur. Akanksha [aka Bijli, one of my MBA friends from Bhopal, whom I was meeting later in the evening] had told me about that being a nice place to visit and suggested to hire a cab. Taking a cab while visiting some new place is the easier and convenient option, but it certainly is not fun. So me and Surjeet decided to do some hopping up and down buses, bhatts [local juggad which serve as public transport. when I say juggad, am sure all the Indians can make out what I mean, and if you can’t then don’t bother, because doesn’t matter how hard I try, I at least cannot explain it in words] and of course auto rickshaws.

Leaving the institute at 1 the journey of 35 kms took us more than 2 hours. The ordeal began with a walk of around 2 kms from institute to the circle where we took a mini bus for bus stand. The supposed plan was to take a bus from there to Bhojpur, but there are no direct buses to Bhojpur. So the next best option was to take state run bus from there to 11th mile, from where the road to Bhojpur turns. After an hour of sitting in the bus and shelling 17 bucks each for the ride we were down at the turn planning the next move. As the name 11th mile suggests, the distance to Bhojpur from this turn is 11 miles and it is at this turn where the bhatts come into play.

Normally they can sit 10 persons at the back and two more passengers in the front alongside the driver, but they will board as many as they can. After a wait of more than 30 minutes, until as per the driver’s whims and fancies the passengers seats were not full, he did not budge.

At Bhojpur there is an ancient Shiva temple of 11th century which is a site not to be missed. Carved in stone the Shivlinga and the complete temple itself is a marvel of architecture. Although subtle and simple and yet mesmerizing you feel the quietness of the temple and the grandeur of the mini temple.

Around the temple there are small hills, and when I say small hills I mean very small hills and they will remind you of any mid 80s Hindi movie in which they showed large barren lands with small hills, typical to dacoit settings of Chambal. Anyways it was fun hanging out there and having a feel of the place.

We went through the same ordeal on our way back from the temple to big lake [bada talaab] where I was meeting Akanksha. Bhopal has two lakes, facing each other, bade talaab or big lake and chote talaab or small lake. This small lake is not as small as it sounds as compared to the lakes we have in delhi, so you can imagine how big, the big lake is. The idea was to meet at the CCD on big lake, which gives a panoramic view of the complete lake, but as I was on the other side of the lake and CCD on other, so Akanksha picked me up from there and we went to a different one.

It is always good to catch up with old friends. Chat, laugh, remember the good old days, discuss the current life and stuff like that. We didn’t realize when the 3 hours of the evening went by until Akanksha’s sister Anupriya met with us on her way back home from work.

Next day was customary meet with Dr. Chandra, met with few of our local dealers and a brief tour of city with marketing team. The city like Delhi has two parts, old and new Bhopal. Old Bhopal is congested, mismanaged with a majority Muslim population. Whereas new Bhopal is cleaner, more quite, properly managed, with all government offices, malls etc and gives the picture of a progressing city.

Although known for its horrible gas tragedy, the city shows picture of progressing and promising Bharat. All in all a nice trip; business completed, city visited and bonded with old time friend.


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