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Old 22nd July 2010, 18:13   #1
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Smile Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family

Ten years. Yes, thatís how long it has been since Iíve been married and for this anniversary I wanted to do something different, something that would surprise her. So I gave it a lot of thought and finally came to a conclusion. For a guy who has not done much for any birthday or anniversary just doing something on that day would be a BIG SURPRISE to her. Whew, that was easy.

And so the thought process was started. What, oh what should I do? For a guy who hasnít done much this was becoming pretty difficult. Jewelry Ė yeah this would definitely be a surprise but probably not the apt one as she does not wear much gold (not to mention the cost of these). Clothes Ė so dated. Books Ė umm, yeah that might work. A trip somewhere Ė thatís the best one yet.

Finalized Ė a trip it was. Now to attack the remaining questions- where, when, how etc. OK, I agree "when" was really a no brainer this time. As always there were a set of pre-conditions:
- I did not have much vacation time available
- It had to be a trip that my son would also like (heís six)
- It had to be within a reasonable cost (a HK holiday during summer drained my vacation budget)
- It had to be a place that she has not gone to (at least after marriage)

And so the grey cells started working again. Well my wedding anniversary falls on the 15th of July which was a Thursday. So If I took Thursday and Friday off, that would give me four days Ė enough for a nice getaway. So the dates were fixed. Now for the question of where and how much should I spend. So what transpired? Well hang on..
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Old 22nd July 2010, 18:25   #2
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Hmmm. thats a nice start with suspense. Belated happy anniversary to both of you.

BTW did you mean she does not like gold jewellery? You must be joking!
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Old 22nd July 2010, 18:46   #3
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@ TaureanBull - Thanks a lot. This is my first thread on team-bhp and you are the first person to comment. You will always be special.

No, I did not mean that she does not like jewlery. I am yet to meet a lady who does not.

She just does not wear much jewelry and this would have just gone into the box.
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Old 22nd July 2010, 19:02   #4
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Well if I was going on a limited budget, then the stay would have to be in Club Mahindra. So that also limits the places that we can visit. The options available were Munnar, Poovar, Ashtamudi, Coorg, Thekkady, Kodai, Yercaud and Ooty. Of these Thekkady was the only CM resort that we had not visited, so that decision was also made. Things were beginning to fall in place nicely. Called up Club Mahindra, did the bookings for Thekkady and then visited IRCTC to make my train bookings. Pandian Express from Chennai fit the bill perfectly, starting from Chennai at 10:10 p.m. and arriving at Madurai at 06:45 a.m. Once this was done the big questioned remained Ė should I tell her or should I surprise her on that day. After much thought decided to tell her as there were a lot of other things that had to fall into place for it to be a surprise.

On the 14th, I left office a little earlier than usual. I had made a booking with Chennai Call Taxi for an AC Indica for 08:30 p.m. It wasnít very hot because of the rains but I knew that she was a little sensitive to the dust and the pollution, so did this much for her. At around 08:05 we get a call from a driver asking us for directions to our house. He says that he is at the toll plaza and I give him the directions from there. Itís less than a 10 minute drive from there to our house. 08:30 and still no car. I call the driver and he says heís a minute away from our house. Another call 10 minutes later and he says that he is just arriving. 08:50 and still no car, now Iím getting worried. Call the driver again but it says that his mobile is busy. Maybe heís trying to call me so I hang up and wait. No call and no response to my calls. Finally at around 09:00 he turns up. We take our bags and go down to see an old Ambassador waiting for us. So much for the AC Indica. So much for a good beginning!!

I make a mental note not to use Chennai Call Taxi again. For the record, I make this note every time I use them but always end up with them.

The Ambassador as youíve guessed by now is not air-conditioned. Luckily for us the traffic is not bad and we are able to make it to Egmore in 45 minutes. The train is on platform 5 and we ride the escalators (yes Chennai Egmore has escalators) to get to platform 5. The train is already on the platform and we walk towards the AC coaches. On the way, I stop by the TTE to ask on our seats. We get into the compartment and she gets her first surprise..

P.S. Ė pictures will start from the next post.
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Old 22nd July 2010, 19:41   #5
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A nice start to your first thread. Waiting for the suspense to unfold. You're quite good at building the suspense in your thread.

I know it is OT, but did you have any hassles with the availability while booking with CM?

P.S. Do share the pics at the earliest.
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Old 22nd July 2010, 20:13   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vijay.Krishnan View Post
I know it is OT, but did you have any hassles with the availability while booking with CM?.
Not this time. I usually do have some trouble with getting reservations at CM, but since this was done well in advance and the fact that it was offseason and not a long weekend helped I guess. I was just trying yesterday for the September 10th weekend and could not get it anywhere .
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Old 22nd July 2010, 22:16   #7
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Aah, this is going to be a good one @SafeDrive; although I like to travel by public vehicles, the problem is getting a ticket; as you might've experienced now as how difficult it is to obtain a ticket to KL especially from TN. Anyway, the teasers are good, I too marked, never call Chennai Call Taxi. Keep writing, its interesting & don't forget the pics.
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Old 22nd July 2010, 23:29   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SafeDrive View Post
@ TaureanBull - Thanks a lot. This is my first thread on team-bhp and you are the first person to comment. You will always be special.
Thanks. I am really honored, believe me.

The suspenses you are building are good! I wish if you could have kept it surprise for your wife till last moment. It would have been wonderful. But I am sure you have your reasons to justify.

Waiting for the train experience.
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Old 23rd July 2010, 00:38   #9
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How nice to hear those names again - Pandian express. The last I travelled in Pandian was over 15 years back. It was meter guage those days. I used to love vaigai more. Because that was super fast in those days and it had a library from where we used to get books to read. And it was fun to watch the Vaigai express cross the twin bridges of Kollidam and Cauvery! Egmore with escalators! Way to go Chennai Egmore.
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Old 23rd July 2010, 14:33   #10
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Thumbs up In the train

We’re travelling I AC – our first time ever. We step into the cabin and she is like “WOW”. And it’s not just her; my mouth is also wide open just looking in. Whoever knew that a regular train could be so luxurious! The seats are large, very comfortable and supportive, the leg space is humongous. The walls are wood (fake) paneled and the floor is carpeted. There are two table like structures near the door, one on each side and what’s more there is also a cupboard – a closed one at that! Each passenger also has his own individual reading light, not just for the berth like II AC but also at his seat.

My son who was asleep in the car and grumpy at the railway station is now all energetic. He discovers the washbasin in the cabin. Yes ladies and gentlemen, each cabin has its own wash basin. He then turns his focus to the reading lights and starts playing around with them. My wife is just sitting there taking it all in. Suddenly she shouts “Camera, camera. Get the camera out. I need pictures of this”. And so it started.
Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0192.jpg
^^Picture of the cabin – the washbasin is the covered thing in the middle along the other end.^^

So we’re sitting there still soaking it in when a thought struck me. Wouldn’t it be great to have this whole coupe to ourselves, would be romantic after my son sleeps (wicked smile). So I rush out to look at the reservation chart – no luck, a certain Mr. Kumar is there too, from Chennai to Dindigul. I sit down and now I notice something else in the cabin.
Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0186.jpg

This is just above the coupe’s door. The red light tells you if the WC is occupied and the green light if it is free. At least that is what I think it is. The green light definitely was not working and the red could not be verified. But it at least told you where the IC is and where the WC is – it’s correct I verified. Another feature is that there is a bell that you can use to summon the attendant, just like in the airplanes. If you press it a buzzer goes off at the attendant‘s area and a green light glows just outside your coupe. This indicates to the attendant the coupe which has summoned him. Again we tried this and it works.

My son is sleepy again and lies down. The train slowly starts moving and my wife and I are just sitting next to each other absorbing all this and watching the lights flash by. There is hardly any talk, the moment does not warrant it. That when it strikes me, Mr. Kumar is missing. Aaah, aaah, the wheels start spinning in my head again but I am interrupted by a knock at the door. Oh damn! I open the door and it’s the TTE. I show him my ticket and after he inspects it I ask him about Mr. Kumar. He tells me that he will let me know after he checks all the tickets – there is a chance that he is sitting in another coupe. Well I still have hope.

I’m switching between watching my son sleep, my wife and the outside when I notice something else. There is a dustbin in our cabin. Will wonders never cease!
Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0193.jpg
^^Calvin sleeping. Notice how he has one leg perpendicular and that there is still decent space left on the seat. This is not so in the other classes. Also notice the dustbin next to the seat.^^

Knock, knock. It’s the attendant with the blankets, pillows and the sheets. The sheets are better than the other classes and the pillows are full size. Wow.
There’s another knock on the cabin and it’s the TTE again. “Sir, Mr. Kumar, he’s…..”

Last edited by SafeDrive : 23rd July 2010 at 14:36.
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Old 23rd July 2010, 14:38   #11
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Ok ok. We understand that you got the whole coupe to yourself! That's between you, your wife and your son!
Guess Mr. Kumar decided to drive to madurai and post a travelogue separately!
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Old 23rd July 2010, 14:44   #12
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SafeDrive, I'm enjoying your style of writing

Ahhhh, the joys of travelling 1st AC.......unfortunately, we're so caught up in the rat race that we have sacrificed these small joys of life. I used to love doing 1st AC one way whenever we travelled Delhi-Kolkata on vacation. But have stopped that now because, as & when we do go, we travel end-December & the Fog is a nightmare on the Kanpur section. Trains get pretty badly affected.

But enough of my rambling, bring it on!!!!!
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Old 23rd July 2010, 15:30   #13
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Safedrive!! wonderful read!!
A Train journey blog after a long time. I had once travelled 1st AC from Delhi to Patna due to unavailability of tickets in 2nd and 3rd A/c, and man I must tell you how good it feels!!
Waiting for more details from you eagerly now that you have the whole compartment with you!! Belated Happy Anniversary to you. 15th July ha!! that's my birthday..
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Old 23rd July 2010, 15:30   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by suman View Post
SafeDrive, I'm enjoying your style of writing

Ahhhh, the joys of travelling 1st AC.......unfortunately, we're so caught up in the rat race that we have sacrificed these small joys of life. I used to love doing 1st AC one way whenever we travelled Delhi-Kolkata on vacation. But have stopped that now because, as & when we do go, we travel end-December & the Fog is a nightmare on the Kanpur section. Trains get pretty badly affected.

But enough of my rambling, bring it on!!!!!
Thank you Suman for the encouragement.
If 1st AC is such luxury, I really wonder how the trains like Palace on wheels will be !
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Old 23rd July 2010, 16:10   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SafeDrive View Post
If 1st AC is such luxury, I really wonder how the trains like Palace on wheels will be !
Palace on Wheels will be unbelievable!

Its on my wish list - a Must-do before I die! But the prices are incredible & there's no way I'll be able to do it in this lifetime - unless I have some external assistance by way of an (hitherto) unknown benefactor leaving me a huge inheritance
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