No, not me. It’s my daughter. We three went to Panchgani to celebrate her first birthday, and this is how it all happened.
What’s the big deal, you’d ask. But in the Baruah household here, given the situations in the past almost 2 years, it was indeed a big deal. I tell you, becoming parents and then raising a kid is – to say the least – not easy. So the missus was contemplating about what to do for the little one’s first birthday. It was a special day indeed; again, it was the day when *ahem* I had popped the question 4 years ago. As you understand, this is a 2-in-1 occasion and this year it coincided with Durga Puja too. It indeed calls for a celebration, and I better don’t dare slugging.
While she was going over frocks and matching stuff for the baby, I suggested in an exaggerated enthusiasm – let’s go somewhere on her birthday; how about Goa? After 2 days, Goa was changed to Panchgani/Lonavla. Suggestion came from a friend – go to Panchgani and check out this hotel Ravine. I googled about the hotel and showed to the missus. Immaculate, perfect were the words. The problem started when I tried to book a room – no room was available. we were scheduled to leave on Wednesday morning, and I searched till 2 AM on Sunday night /Monday morning to look for a decent hotel that can fulfill my list of criteria (First vacation with the baby, after all!). Futile efforts. At 10 in the Monday morning, I called up Ravine just to confirm that there were no rooms. The reply came as expected. Then I was about to book a hotel that came close to fulfilling my criteria. And when I was about to enter my credit card details in the hotel booking section, came an email from Ravine – one room is available and I need to call them ASAP. So a room with a valley view at Ravine was ours for two nights and we were going out! Yahoo!
I was utterly anxious about the whole thing. I was certain that something or the other will go wrong. The biggest bet was the baby. With silent prayers in the head, we started our journey to Panchgani right at the planned time.
Google maps showed 2 hours 20 minutes, and we spent the first 1 hour only trying to get to the highway. The highway was a mixed bag. But I found it getting better as we progressed. Many patches were good enough to cross the three-figure mark on the speedometer of my hatchback, up to 110; I preferred to keep it in 80-90 range though, at least for the sleeping baby. The road in the return journey was much better and I drove mostly on three figures. Both the girls were on the rear, with sleepy eyes, and I was enjoying the drive. The randomized playlist in the stereo too played nostalgic songs one after the other. It was like the whole universe conspired!
The trip proved to be beyond success and joy. Our baby slept through half the journey and she LOVED the place as soon as we entered. She went beyond herself. And yes, she learned to walk; not the 4-5 unsteady steps as she used to take at home. She was actually walking around the room blabbering things out of excitement. She did not cry a single time, she went wherever we took her without any fuss, she played with dogs and fishes, she did petty shopping with her mommy in Mahabaleshwar, and she ate and slept without any effort from us. It was like, a dream vacation! A happy baby makes parenting so much easier!
And that’s how it all came to an end – like all good things do. After 3 days / 2 nights and 300 KMS on the odometer, I was poorer by 12-13 thousands; but I earned a memory so rich and so valuable that I’ll treasure for the rest of my life. So much so, I have vowed to rekindle that dying wanderer in me. With time, that shall be done too. Amen.