KK: This post was handwritten in Gurgaon. Keyed in in Kolkata. Uploaded in Mumbai. A post from my mother after a long time. She has had a turbulent time in between when she had a fall and was hospitalised. Coming home from the hospital and beginning to write again seems to have filled her with new life. Now our phone calls are about what she is writing and what she plans to write next. As she narrates some of her latest writings to me on the phone I feel so happy that the blog and writing for it has helped give my mom such a sense of purpose. This is so inspirational for me. Here’s the first of her new posts …
We had the most unplanned short break, one could ever imagine at Mudfort, Kuchesar, UP in August this year (2013).
I had just arrived at Gurgaon from Kolkata a day or two before the Independence Day. It was a long break for the working people as it was followed by a weekend. On the morning of 15th August, my son Sid woke up from sleep and gave me half an hours notice to pack up and get ready for one night’s stay at Mudfort. When sons grow up, they become your guardians and it is no use saying anything to them. So I docilely got ready, taking care not to miss any of my medicines.
Soon we were ready to start, Sid was at the back of the wheel and we passed over Gurgaon in no time.
After a while, we drove through the posh localities of New Delhi such as Shajahan Road, Lodhi Estate etc. It being the Independence Day, there were many beautiful decorated placards wishing the people “Swatantrata divas ka hardik Subhkamna” (Greetings for the Independence Day).
Very soon we reached India Gate and was very delighted to see small crowds of people enjoying themselves. The Rashtrapati Bhavan and India Gate were standing as tall and stately as ever. My mind was filled with happiness to be present at India Gate on the day of independence offer so many decades. I could not imagine it even a day before.
After crossing over New Delhi, we were on the highway of UP, the flat fertile land on both sides of the road cheered me up as I could see nature’s bounty in the vast stretches of lush green fields of wheat, corn and sugarcanes.
It took us about two hours to reach the “kuchha’ muddy road that led to Mudfort. On both sides of the road, there were dense fields of very tall and juicy sugarcanes plants, a perfect setting for the twentieth century heroes and heroines of Hindi films to run around and sing. After a few enquiries, we reached the gate of Mudfort. An old gate keeper opened the huge door for us with a broad smile and a salute.
The ambience inside was very picturesque with well-planned, beautiful gardens on both sides. The road, from the gate, led straight to the fort which had a very high arch.
We passed through the high arch and went to the other side of the building, where there was a big courtyard surrounded by rooms on all sides.
The porter took us to a corner room and opened the door. It was a well furnished “Super Deluxe” room having a high bed, sofa sets, a reading room and a very big and airy bathroom.
The “Super deluxe” room, on the ground floor, was offered to me as a special gesture by the hotel authorities when they learnt from Sid that I had a problem climbing the stairs. They did not even charge anything extra for the difference. We were very much moved by this kind gesture.
However, in spite of all the good intention of the hotel authorities, I could not enjoy the luxurious room to its fullest extent as the bed in the room was very high to give it an eighteen century touch. Throughout my stay, I was stricken with the fear of not being able to climb up or down the bed.
Anyway, I set aside the worry to the back of my mind and proceeded to the dining room for lunch crossing over the big courtyard.
The dining hall was very spectacular, having black and white chequered marble floor and a very high ceiling, in keeping with a royal abode.
The food was mostly North Indian and served in a buffet style. Even at 3.30 p.m , the food was piping hot, consisting of rice, mutton curry as well as vegetarian dishes, which we all relished.
Lunch over, I thought of taking a nap in my room. Sid and his wife Soy literally lifted me on the bed, after which, they went around to explore the fort and take a plunge in the swimming pool.
By the time I woke up, it was past five. I went out of the room to have tea in the courtyard where there were quite a few tables and chairs. The soft mellow light of the setting sun permeated the whole place while a few peacocks screeched on the turrets of the terrace – not a very usual sight for the Kolkatans like me.
I entered into a conversation with the friendly attendant, who brought in tea and gathered from him that Kuchesar fort was the abode of the Jat rules, who were first rate military powers in the eighteenth century. The present owner inherited the “haveli” from his grandfather and converted it into a fort hotel. This is the difference between having a rich granddad and a poor granddad!.
By that time, Sid and Soy also returned from their expeditions. The glow on their faces showed that they were enjoying themselves very much.
As dusk set in, we went to the dining hall and ordered for some “pakoras”. Sid and Soy wanted to go out and play table tennis as they wanted to pack in as much enjoyment as they could during their stay. I stayed back, happy to be able to catch up with the Hindi serials, which I would not have liked to miss at any cost.
Dinner was served early and was as sumptuous as ever. It was hardly 10 p.m but there was an eerie silence all around as the fort hotel was far away from the madding crowd of the locality.
After dinner, Sid and Soy safely tucked me on the eighteen century styled high bed of my room and, then, went to their room on the first floor. The next morning, I was glad that the night was over.
After getting freshened up, we went for breakfast, which consisted of both western and Indian food. Sid and Soy went out for another round of swimming and exploring the fort.
Soon it was time to leave, there was an arrangement for the guests to visits a nearby mango forest by bullock carts. However, Sid and Soy sacrificed the adventure as I was not up to it. We also saw a man in the garden who would teach how to make earthen pots.
The return journey did not take much time but due to monsoon, it rained quite heavily in some parts of the way. Sid took the car straight to Sector 29, the food hub of Gurgaon where we had our lunch at Bikanerwala.
Though the stay at the fort was short, we did enjoy it. This was my second visit to a fort hotel after Dadhikar Fort in Rajasthan. The fort hotels I feel, are different from the other hotels. In the usual hotels people are so occupied with sightseeing or other work that they go to their hotels only to sleep and eat, whereas, the fort hotels are packages in themselves. Since they are far removed from the city, you try to enjoy the amenities that the fort provides and it also help to soothe your frayed nerves. I am happy that I could make it to Mudfort as I do not know when I shall be able to make another outing or if ever at all...