mostly about food and cooking, but also the stories about the Bread and the Butterflies!

A Road Trip

In This and That, Travel on January 30, 2013 at 12:19 pm

How quickly this year is going.  January is almost over already!  But there is some cold left in this winter yet. It has been one of the coldest we have had in years with minimum temperatures touching the freezing point at the outskirts of Delhi.  I must say I love a good winter.  It is good excuse for all the rich food: sarson ka saag, gajar ka halwa, and paranthas stuffed with the best of winter vegetables!  With the son back – yes, he is home for his internship – I, in the best traditions of mothers the world over, am trying to put some meat on those bones.

As 2012 was drawing to a close, we undertook a cross-country drive.  The initial idea was to pick our son who was finishing up his college studies at Manipal.  In response to Murphy’s laws, things suddenly got busier at work and the planned vacation time had to be trimmed a little.  Pune was decided as the meeting point.  Yes, we drove all the way to Pune from Delhi, further on to Aurangabad, and then back to Delhi by car.  My American friends and readers may not think much of it but to drive long distances by car is definitely not the norm in India.  But TH loves to drive and had been hoping to do such a trip for a long time.  I overcame my dread of Indian highway driving and relented.  To my relief, I found much orderliness on the roads and we were none the worse for the two-day, 24 hour, 1600 km drive.  Kudos to TH ( I drove a mere few kilometers, but got halfway through my knitting project!).

Amer Fort
Amer Fort, Jaipur

Udaipur Lake Palace
Udaipur Lake Palace

We had intended to start bright and early but slept through the 4am alarm to wake up at 5:30.  Which was all fine by me; I am not a morning person.  By the time we had filled up the car and checked the tire pressures, it was almost 8 as we were leaving Delhi.  A flat tire a couple of hours into the trip had us drive into Jaipur instead of taking the bypass.  We took the scenic route that passes by the beautiful Amer Fort.  The dhaba where we stopped later for lunch was a disappointment but the packed methi paranthas (and amla pickle) held us in good stead.  Our destination for the day was Himmatnagar but the coffee-break in Udaipur tuned into our halt for the night.  Next morning we were up really early and on the road before daybreak.  The drive out of Udaipur winding through the Aravalis with the setting moon was a pleasant, quiet start to the day. After letting Ahmedabad pass by without a detour for food, I was determined to get my hands on some Gujarati farsan in Vadodara.  Without getting too deep into the heart of the city we were able to procure dhokla, patra, and khandvi, all packed in paper packages and tied with string.

Golden bridge
Golden Bridge (1881) across the Narmada, Bharuch

For Bharuch we had been warned about the traffic snarls on the by-pass road and advised to go into the city and across the narrow Golden Bridge.  In the market, just before the turn that brings you to the bridge, we located a small store (Sangam khari sheng, below Lucky Photo Studios) filled to the brim with peanuts!  We were seeking the famous Bharuch sheng!  It was amazing to watch the deft handiwork of the shopkeeper as he tied the newspaper-wrapped packages of the special salt-roasted peanuts with yards and yards of string!  We got enough to take home and to share with friends.

Bharuch Sing 1

Bharuch Sing 2

We were in Mumbai by evening and decided to spend the night with TH’s aunt who lives there.  Next morning we were again up before the sun and on our way to Pune.  People driving on the wrong side here seems to be quite the norm and we spotted signs that warned: “Beware of traffic on the wrong side!”  Driving through the ghats we were surprised by the thick fog that reduced visibility to nearly zero!  A few hours later we were in Chinchwad, on the outskirts of Pune, where we had friends, Kiran and Anju (the VOF gang) awaiting our arrival; cameras and flowers on the ready!  🙂 It truly was no mean achievement.

Our two days in Pune were spent buzzing between friends and relatives in an effort to meet as many as we could.  It may have been a little exhausting but we managed to cover quite some ground.  From Pune we left for Aurangabad to spend a few days with Anagha and Prasad, the remaining members of the VOF troupe.  This was our vacation with enough do-nothing time built into it.  Easy mornings and late nights, and lots of good food.  Thanks, Anagha and Prasad!

at Ajintha
The rock-cut temples at Ajintha, Aurangabad

at Ajintha
With Anagha and Prasad at Ajintha

at Ajintha
Mother and Son!

Joyous Bulbul

Daulatabad Fort
At the Daulatabad Fort, Aurangabad

From there I took a flight to Mumbai where I was conducting a workshop with students of Architecture, and TH and our son took the road back to Delhi. In total, TH logged 3515km!

Happy New Year to all those reading!  Here’s to good things in the year to come!

  1. yayy! a post finally…nice overview..wish you add some sheng pics etc to this post…this is a mad tea party no?

    🙂 I was too lazy to take pics of the peanuts though we had quite a few packages to go through. Now it is all gone! A few misses before I get back in the groove!

    PS: Found some pics on the cell phone! And here they are!

  2. What a nice trip you’ve all had! I’m glad to hear that you weren’t in want of food for any portion of it- 🙂 were you able to analyse the famous Bharuch sheng?

    I think it is the soil of Bharuch that is the key ingredient that makes these peanuts so special! They are huge! Otherwise the preparation is quite simple: soak the peanuts in salted water and then roast. You could try a small batch in the microwave even.

    • Microwave? Bah… never use it for cooking. I do my careful nut-roasting either dry or in some ghee in a wok and flip flip flip. Chaat masala/khatta namak is my preferred seasoning- they taste more like pickles that way! ;-). But no indeed- one can never replace the terroir of local produce- enjoy some for envious me!

      Alas, I am guilty of roasting my peanuts in the microwave!
      Because of this method of roasting (or something else), the shelf life of Bharuch sheng is very short – the begin to taste bad within a month, so have to be consumed quickly. Which is not a problem, just that you cannot hoard large quantities!

  3. What a nice trip! We did a similar one too, from Madras to Goa, it took us three days. On the way back, we returned via Hampi and Tirupati, another 3 days. All the pictures are lovely, the bulbul especially.

    Thanks, Sra. Now that we have my highway-driving hesitation out of the way…

  4. Thank you for this great post! (I just discovered your blog via author Jason Goodwin’s suggestion.) The photo of the fort was particularly arresting.

    Thanks, Sidney.

  5. Happy new year Anita! Good to read about your adventures on the road and all the food you enjoyed. Congrats to your husband for driving 3515 km! I used to do a lot of road trips but I never drive on the highways myself. My last one was 2500 Kms in Andhra over 10 days. Now am a little hesitant on doing road trips. It’s been a year since we moved back to Mumbai and have not taken a long holiday. You make ache for one with this post.

    We have done a few driving trips into the mountains – to Uttarkashi, and to Mukteshwar – but this was something else! Go on, catch some sun!

  6. Oh, just the sound of those words, bharuch, Narmada, Aravali, makes me envision majestic mountain ranges and slow meandering rivers. That was quite a long road trip and I love the fort photos. I still have to download and post mine.
    What music did you play along the way?

    Aravali is not so majestic but adds a good topographic interest to the otherwise flat terrain.
    It was an eclectic playlist: from Rehman, to Pink Floyd, to Eminem!

  7. Your description was awesome!

    Thanks for reading, Shukti!

  8. Amazing post Anitha! Glad you enjoyed the Trip, my husband has been pestering for a long road trip and I was not convinced…might just have to reconsider after reading this:-)

    Give it a try – the roads are much better than I feared. Which part of the country are you planning to explore?

  9. Hi Anita,
    Absolutely love reading your blog. One of the few I revisit quite often. Read this post with a lot of interest as I’ve been trying to convince my husband to do this trip for some time now but he isn’t budging. I ‘ll be grateful if you could either inbox me or reply giving a few more details about the route and your overnight stop overs or did you drive late into the night as well. Thanks

    On our way to Pune our night halts were Udaipur and then Mumbai, as mentioned in the post. We stayed in Pune for a few days and then left for Aurangabad where we had an extended stay. The return journey halts (via Indore) were Ajmer which was reached at 10:30 in the night. All other evenings we restricted our driving to about 7:30-8:00 pm, not later. It was a precondition that we will not drive late into the night!

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