Let me preface by saying that just because I’m writing about traveling during the pandemic, you must not take it as a suggestion to travel as well. We all have varying levels of risk aversion, levels of frustration, levels of savings in our bank accounts, etc. You get the drift.
We chose to travel for various reasons. The biggest one is : home is where the heart is. I was miserably missing my friends who are scattered all over the globe. The closest ones were in Bikaner, so it was a bit of a no-brainer.
To top that, B and I hadn’t stepped out in months anyway. We were taking all the precautions and then some. Since we don’t have a car that can be trusted with 8 hours of driving, we decided to travel by air. We flew Air India and I made a video explaining the entire process.
We spent a week at Narendra Bhawan. They have this “We Pay You Stay” offer, which seems to attract quite a few weekend vacationers from Delhi / Gurgaon. When we reached the hotel, there were about 4-5 rooms occupied, addition to ours. By the time we left, there were about 14-15 rooms occupied. There’s a definite growing trend and in general, the hospitality industry needs it. We all need it in fact – I haven’t met a single person who hasn’t been hit by the economic impact of COVID19 unfortunately.
As expected, we had THE most relaxing seven day in the last 4-5 months. My day used to look like this : wake up at about 8 a.m., get showered / dressed, head down to either the Outer Verandah or the Gaushaala, plonk myself in front of a fan or cooler, journal while sipping on a cold coffee for a couple of hours. Then a bite in the restaurant, and some more sitting around doing nothing till it got too hot in the afternoon.
A nap in the room, then a spa session, maybe a short pool swim, shower again and ready to be back at the Gaushaala. Cocktails @ 6. Dinner. Goodnight. Repeat.
It is SO HOT in Bikaner! I wish it wasn’t. A spate of rain cooled things down for a couple of days thankfully. Great sunsets. Everything is socially distanced. The entire staff wears masks all the time.
The “Gaushaala” is called so because it was, literally, a cow-shed when Narendra Singhji used to live here. Now, it is a watering-hole for guests in the evening. One of the tables has a Martini Glass on it – an abstract formation in the stone itself. Unintentional. I think they should call it the “Martini Table”. Where are we hanging out this evening? At the Martini Table for Cocktails @ 6.
Lots of Bougainvilleas, cold coffees, watermelon and lime juices, beer and Gin & Tonics. And the dogs. Nahla and Elizabeth and four puppies. The puppies have now gone to each of their new homes. Although one, called Muffy, is still here with Mr. Nitin Sud.
One of my journal entries from the day before we left Narendra Bhawan, is titled, “Time Is Irrelevant”. At this point, I cannot come up with a more succinct way of describing our time at the hotel. And not just this time. It is like this every single time.
It is like a parallel dimension where time is irrelevant. So much is said and done and the memories are hazy at best. But I know that it was good. All of it.
Some times, I think Karan and Siddharth should adopt me. I should pick up my empty plate after a meal and take it to the kitchen – like we do at home. With either of the hotels, Suryagarh or Narendra Bhawan, visiting the hotels is akin to coming back home.
The best vacations are the ones you take when you need them. I needed this one, desperately.