Rajahmundhry- day 1

The excitement all peaking at the right moment, tickets booked and bags packed, I had a sumptuous Bengali dinner at Somu da’s, Kakima and Kaku were delighted with another foodie addition, a few packets of fast food noodles and water/plates we look for our AC boogie. Found, settled, yapped late into the night, and was warned by the adjoining co-passengers that there are people who “sleep” at night. We could not play bluff, landed at Rajahmundhry, GTM and aunty, thrilled to see we made it in good time, the town looked beautiful in the morning- the fruits, the flowers, the aroma of freshly made rose milk ,jasmine and incense wafted in the cool summer morning. The hotel faced the mighty expanse of the Godavari and I loved the view from my room, rather our room- Titiksha’s and mine. MTV and Channel V or Zoom, let the music play… we snoozed for a good 90 mins in turns.

Sight-seeing was the agenda- ISKCON, the dam/barrage/a few rose gardens, Rahajmundhry in general and lunch at the Mandapam. We wanted to have breakfast, the way it is had, at tiffin centres, jostling and fighting for space and boy, we had fun!

The ISKCON premises burnt my soles, the marble tiles roasted and burnt. The time spent there was soothing; Krishna, Subhadra and Balram are the darling deities of all Vaishnavites. I checked the tuck shop for trivia, nothing much to carry home except the peace and the lore. The drive to the barrage was scorching, humidity took us unawares, rather we were warned but not prepared as much, wear sunscreen, drink lots of water, carry umbrellas, and we did not any! By this time, Krishna had this crazy idea that we should watch the Pawan Kalyan starrer JALSA in Rajahmundhry, it would be memorable and all that, never mind, it never materialised. But I heard JALSA songs to last a lifetime, the driver was very sweet to play Bollywood songs. Going to the barrage was a mistake in hindsight that killed our enthusiasm for the remaining, the heat sapped every bit of energy and stamina and we headed hotelwards. Had Andhra lunch, lot of prawns! Could not make it to the 3pm ritual, GTM was considerate. All of us took the much wanted afternoon nap and recovered somewhat in the mercy of the room ACs. I was a tad tanned. Mallik was the worst hit.

The sky was gloomily patched and overcast, oh no! But picture time and rose milk time, Mallik and I headed off for the river bank and were caught in an unexpected shower. I tell you the boatman never looked so good gliding and the pitter patter was so refreshing. Circled half the town but we were not lucky with rose milk…but the town never looked so beautiful bathed in the summer showers, all shops closing and relieved faces waiting for electricity to light up their homes. Had chai at the hotel café and got ready for the evening, the wedding!

Witnessing an Andhra wedding for the 1st time, there was no holy fire, no saat pheras but a very beautiful transition from being a son/daughter to a lifelong union/vow by two beautiful people, I also saw the shenai being played by a woman! The veil between the bride and the groom, the chants, the vows, that sacred moment, the excitement of all the young people, the blessings by the elders of the community,that tender look on the bride’s father’s visage- the last one is the winner.

I loved the venue, the food, the décor, the music. I was telling GTM, I like the orchids and the anthuriums so I should stay back and wait to take them. Then, it was bluff until midnight with club football on the tube, but yes, the rain brought the heat and humidity to a bearable temperature.

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