We were 29 tourists in the bus. We travelled across the enchanting Tamil Nadu from Chennai right up to Kanniyakumari and back. We moved together, visited the places of interest, be it temples or market, dined and stayed together in Tamil Nadu Tourism Hotels for ten nights.
A poorly-paid but very co-operative guide Chnadrasekaran accompanied us and was always ready to help for everything we wanted. He arranged all temple visits that are really messy with greedy priests. Some thought Chandrasekaran operates though some who pay some commission. Similar was the views whenever he took us to some shops at Madurai, Kancheepuram, or Chennai. Madurai is his home town. His working wife and younger daughter came to meet him. The young girl wishes to be an engineer. Her elder sister is also in engineering college.
The oldest man in the group was an 87 years army man, widower for last 32 years but very fit and fast. He was always the first in everything. The youngest was Dr. E Mittal at 39 who accompanied her parents. UKMittal, an engineer from Roorkee had passed out in 1960, one year ahead of me but still is at 66, and after serving whole life in SAIL still works with Jindal’s steel company. GK Pandey was another person who drew my attention. Pandey is a senior officer in defence. He is knowledgeable and a booklover. An undersecretary was also part of the group whose wife hardly joins his frequent outings. And how can we forget three extra exuberant sisters in the group who were accompanied by the husband of one sister who was a PH.D in history and a teacher in a Faridabad school? Husband was connected to the hospitality sector and is now consultant.
The group truly represented the aspiring Indian middle class. They have all worked hard in life or are still working. They have attained whatever they wanted. They provided good education to their children and have got them settled. They have built houses and created some wealth that can sustain them in their retirement. They are financially sound to live well. They don’t look towards their children for supporting them. Some of them such as Dixits and Chaudhrys are have their children abroad and they go and live with them quite frequently. But the best was the story that Gaur told me. Gaur retired as electrical foreman from IIT, New Delhi. His son who is now in USA had married an American girl. It reminded me of Anand. Every member of the group has a unique story of his own. It all excited me.
Here is a new India.