India 1980 .

I was there for 3 months as my dad was attending the National Defence College in New Delhi India . I remembered arriving at the Palam Airport on a Thai Airways DC 8 via Bangkok with my mum as my father was already there . Home was the “Raksha Bavan” the Officers Married Quarters for the Indian Army Officers ranked Brigadier and above. The location was so central as it was only a few hundred meters from the INDIA GATE and a few kilometers from the “Rashtrapati Bhavan” I could still remember the beds that were issued out to the apartments.It was a stringed bed called “chapoys’ .We had to put duvets on them to sleep on it.

During my stay over there I had the opportunity to travel to various towns in India. The first was a day trip to Agra was with my parents and their friends. We took a bus to Agra from one of the hotels in New Delhi . On arrival in Agra, the feeling was awesome. After studying in the history books about the Taj Mahal and I was really standing in front of it .The feeling was so much to me that I could not describe it. The next trip I went was on another day tour to Jaipur . Jaipur is the capital of the state of Rajasthan. It is situated in the golden triangle of Delhi and
Agra and the attractions are the Hawa Mahal, City Palace and the Janta Mantar .

Daily life in New Delhi was routine….waking up in the morning then walking to the underground shopping complex ” Connaught Place” to have my “Marsala Tosai” breakfast until one day my parents gave me some cash and asked me go any where out of New Delhi. The first place on my mind was Kashmir. The reason was simple as Kashmir used to be and still is the location for the Bollywood movies such as “Bobby” and “Here Meri Sathi”. Luckily a friend of my parents during their Jakarta days had a relative living in Srinagar and arranged for me to stay with them in Srinagar.

It was going to be my first solo trip and it was also the first time I had to plan it .. I went to the Indian Airlines office near the” Connaught” shopping complex and booked an air ticket for the very first time. My plan was to fly into Srinagar and come back by bus and train via Jammu. Mind you booking and checking out timetables were not as easy as it is now as before we had to check it personally at the stations and travel agents ….. I still remember those non internet days.

The flight was on board a Indian Airlines Boeing 737-200.I arrived Srinagar airport and as I could remember I took a bus to Srinagar Town. I then walked to the house that I was supposed to stay at as I could remember it was called “Rattan Villa” on Ramunshi Bagh. My host was Mrs Rattan who is a lovely lady and her daughter whose name if I could recall is Nitya. To be honest I do not know how many days I spend in Kashmir as I enjoyed my time there but I remembered I did spend a night in each of the towns of Gulmarg and Pahalgam.

The journey back to New Delhi was in two stages a bus ride to Jammu where the views were awesome with winding roads across the mountain ranges. The road conditions were very poor and I could see earth from landslides covering half of the road. The bus that I was on had to share the roads with other oncoming vehicles on most part of the journey. We entered a few tunnels and could see stones falling from the upper layers of the tunnels. I remembered seeing wreckage of buses in canyons down below . The best part was that I was really enjoying the journey. No complaints.

On reaching the town of Jammu I walked down to the railway station and bought myself a ticket on the 3rd class carriage of the train. There is one thing I admire about the Indian Railways where they will have tickets booths for men , women and for tourists. A rare novelty anywhere in the world. The train ride was a good experience for me as riding on 3rd class on a Indian train exposed me to all walks of classes of people in India. I arrived New Delhi safely and took a taxi back to Raksha Bavan where my parents waited for my safe arrival.

It was an eye opener for me as it was my first time planning and going alone for a trip first time and I from that time I caught the TRAVEL BUG big time. Blame it on my parents……..

The last trip i had in India was to the town of Sri Ganganaga which was in Rajasthan. I went there with Datta a Malaysian student who was studying medicine at the University of Sri Ganganaga.

We took the train from the Delhi railway station at night and arrived Sri Ganganagar the next morning. Little did I know is that Sri Ganganagar is a border town with neighboring Pakistan. It was a rough town and I could see a few people wandering in the street armed with Lee Enfield rifles. Spend a few nights there and took the night train in a berth shared with two Indian Army officers. They kindly with shared me their issued Indian Rum with me. It was
another first for me. I arrived New Delhi the very next day.

I had to go back to Malaysia as my MCE (O levels) results were due soon . I left India with a heavy heart and insyaallah I would come back again. I took a Thai Airways flight back to Kuala Lumpur. The flight made a short stop at Dhaka (Bangladesh) before proceeding to Bangkok where I spend a free night stop over there. It was my first time in Bangkok and I was alone………….

S

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