The last time I traveled by Rajdhani was when I came back home for a weekend between my travel from Delhi to Bangalore in 2007. When I had fussed about which things I could carry, and which I would have to throw away, had borrowed Akshat's big roll-on bag to put all my stuff (which I still have btw), when I couldn't decide whether to be happy or sad or hopeful, when I waited at Delhi station listening to details of a job offer, wondering if I should tell P now that I won't be taking it, or wait and mail him an official mail later ...
That was then though, and this was now. I still had a big heavy suitcase, but it was filled with gifts, not my own random stuff, and this time mom was with me. The train travel, listening to mom chat up with strangers, waiting at Delhi station for our next train, looking at the stalls for books and snacks to buy (only this time, I wasn't the kid who thought the snacks on the station are awesome, or the variety in the bookstore mindboggling) - it was all very nostalgic. And before I knew it, we were in Panipat. With Mummy and Daddy fussing over us, asking about food and chai, mom getting fussy about not making Mummy(my naani) do any work.
The first day, we visited a couple of aunts, and somewhere along the way, jet-lag caught up, and I fell asleep in the middle of a conversation. The second day, Jisha reached as well, and I went to the station to pick her up, and we all went for lunch to Veena massi's house, where she fed us infinite quantities of food - including (but not limited to) paneer, dal, roti, noodles, rice, fruit salad, samosa, chat, dhokla, ras-malai, tea, biscuits, namkeen and a bunch of things that I have now forgotten.
The next day we traveled to Yamunanagar, and met that really really nice bank-manager, who my mom gifted "US chocolates" to cause he was just so nice. We also went to Papa's ex-college, where we met some of his ex-students (who are lecturers now), and talked about missing him and his "discipline" and his advice, and told some random stories about days gone by. On our way back, we stopped over at Karnal, and met my aunt, and 2 baby cousins, and some relatives who I have never met before ! They were all quite nice actually, and all of them ensured that they fed us a LOT. Finally, we reached back to Panipat, and visited another aunt (Bobby massi) who was nice enough to not insist that we eat some more :)
Day 4 was a trip to my last aunt in Panipat whom we hadn't visited, and from there we went to Delhi, and met my cousin Tinni who has just got married. We heard about her new family, and her husband Micky, who I didn't get to meet sadly :(, but the rest of the meeting was so much fun. Some more of my cousins were there, and a couple of aunts as well, and the whole house was full of laughter! Later that evening, I met Akshat and Vimmi, and went for more food :P Akshat of course hasn't changed at all, and that brought on more nostalgia about Delhi :)
Day 5 was spent relaxing in Delhi, and talking to my aunt, and then traveling to Gwalior to meet more relatives :) Day 6 and 7 were spent in Gwalior, where we met my buas, and more cousins, and even a niece who might be named Kriti ! I met all these cute kids, who practiced mehndi on my hands, and we sat and watched Babu bhaiya's wedding video, and went to see Gwalior fort, and had roadside food !
Day 8 was back to Mumbai, end of the hectic week, back home, with a couple of kilos added thanks to North Indian hospitality :(, and with plans to spend the rest of the holiday relaxing at home :) I met soo many people, whom I hadn't met for such a long time, and they were all so nice, and so much fun ! I hope I get to do this again very very soon.