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Biraj 28th February 2018 18:53

Road-trip: Ghaziabad to Mashobra
Disclaimer: This is not a usual travelogue. The number, as well as quality of pics, is extremely low, has a boring background story, and has a Fiat. :D

Please excuse the rustiness as I am posting a travelogue after four years. :D (both smileys are gone).

The boring background story

I returned after a long official trip from the USA in May 2015 and noticed some swelling in my feet. Initially, everyone dismissed it as an after-effect of a long-haul flight but it kept increasing. A detailed check-up including biopsy revealed - IgA Nephropathy (Renal Failure). While I knew it’s alarming the real extent of it is something I realised later and calling it my worst nightmare will be an understatement. From the renal biopsy to Permacath insertion to a vascular fistula surgery, then regular dialysis for ten months, and finally the renal transplant in June 2017, I went through procedures that I pray nobody else ever goes through. The frustration and agony of suffering from a disease that has no cure in conventional medicines are very difficult to describe.

From a lifestyle full of amazing food, great travels, fantastic moments with family and friends, my life turned towards bland food, tied to a dialysis machine thrice a week, extremely limited interaction with friends, and only trips to hospitals/doctors in the name of travelling/driving. All this sounds really bad but what I felt inside was much worse. The positive outcome of all this was the realisation of the importance that people, relationships, and friendships have in our life. My sister donated her kidney to me, my wife stood beside me as a pillar of strength, my friends (many of whom I met because of this wonderful forum) offered help and encouragement, and my colleagues managed my work while I was away.


The last time my wife and I had stepped out of home for something apart from a doctor’s or hospital visit was Feb 2016, so, after seven months of my renal transplant, we decided to take the risk and make a trip. The trip was as unplanned as any of our previous trips. We decided to head towards Shimla because of better facilities and presence of the only Nephrologist in Himachal Pradesh, we could find online. We got to know that a group of Delhi BHPians are also planning a trip to Narkanda around the same time, so we could seek help if need be.

As always, the next point of contention was - which car? Anyone that has read my previous travelogues will remember that the toss up is between my favourite, Crusoe (Fiat Linea T-jet) and the ever-ignored Neil (Fiat Grande Punto, MJD). Neil is with my in-laws but we still can take it when we need it. Considering the emotional connect with Crusoe and the fact that Feb 26th will be its sixth birthday, the decision was easier this time.

Day 1 - Since I had not driven for more than 25 KMs at a stretch in the past two years, we decided to proceed at a relaxed pace, and started our trip on Thursday (Feb 22) afternoon. We got stuck in terrible traffic while exiting Delhi and took almost 2 hr 45 min to reach Murthal (~60 KMs). As always, our first stop was for paranthas at Gulshan Dhaba.

After some paranthas and tea, we cruised to our next stop - Nik Bakers, Dera Bassi. Enjoyed some good food and desserts, clicked some pics of the car, and then decided to stay in Panchkula. Booked a hotel on the highway so, that we can save time on the following day. The hotel we elected had a revolving (on papers) restaurant. We then started finalising our destination and checked multiple travel sites. Found a good deal at Club Mahindra, Mashobra so decided to go-ahead with it.

Day 2 - After a good night sleep, we had a light breakfast in the non-revolving restaurant. Then tanked up at the HP pump next to the hotel and headed our way towards Mashobra.

The roads after the Himalayan Expressway, i.e. tax-barrier in Himachal is undergoing widening thus in a very bad state. Parwanoo to Solan took more time than we have ever taken on that stretch. Plus it was dusty and the traffic too was unruly. The condition of the road and traffic improved after Solan.

Our first stoppage of the day was at Club Mahindra, Kandaghat for lunch. A relaxed lunch and some pics later, we resumed our journey towards Mashobra. It was a breezy drive and we reached Club Mahindra, Mashobra around 4 pm. The room was cosy and offered a good view. My wife had a complaint that the last time we had seen a movie together was in 2015, so I checked online and found a cinema hall called SRS in Shimla. A movie called “Sonu ke someone ki someone” was on so I booked two tickets for the last show. The lift of the movie hall wasn’t working so, we had to climb four flights. Too difficult for someone on heavy steroids for the past ~three years and with almost no physical activity. Somehow, reached the top and found a crowded theatre (pic later in the post). Enjoyed our private screening, and headed back to the resort.

Day 3 - It was our wedding anniversary and a thunderstorm was outside, so we decided to spend the day at the resort. The resort manager managed to sell a candlelight dinner to us. While the arrangement was good but the weather spoiled the experience a bit. There were rain, thunder and chilly winds. We were freezing despite the bonfire and hardly had the appetite for the five-course meal. The service and seclusion made up for it, almost. Moreover, we were celebrating some time together at a setting other than at home or in a hospital after a very long time.

Day 4 - We woke up early and found out the news about Sridevi’s demise. Kept discussing the uncertainty and unpredictability of life until we realised it was 10 AM. Went for a quick breakfast and then checked out around 12 to head back home. We had travelled just 3-4 KMs from the resort when I noticed the battery sign on the instrument cluster. A quick check online revealed that the issue was with the alternator. I drove till the HP petrol pump in Shimla and parked the car. Called a few mechanics mentioned in Google but all were closed due to it being a Sunday. A cab driver offered to help and checked the battery connections but couldn’t figure anything out. He called a mechanic he knew and that guy did some checks and confirmed that the alternator had gone kaput. I called BHPian Rishi to check the Delhi-BHPians' location. Everyone had left but BHPians Rishi (sinharishi), Sameer (sameerg001), and Rahul (sunejarahul) who had just started from Narkanda. They reached within 90 minutes and were our saviours for the day. I called my insurance provider (Tata-Aig) to arrange a flat-bed to Chandigarh. Delhi BHPians knew about my health and took care of identifying a hygienic place to wait, getting the car checked again, and helping move our luggage from our car to their cars. The flat-bed arrived at 4 pm and left for Chandigarh around 4.30 pm. We all had a late lunch and left in Rishi’s S-Cross. Another BHPian, Anupam Shukla, found out about our predicament and offered that we could leave the car at his friend’s place in Mohali. He told us that he will send his trusted mechanic to repair and bring the car back.

Meanwhile, I had already spoken to the head of the customer service at Fiat. He spoke to the regional manager and assured quick service at WSL Jeep/Fiat in Mohali. Thus, we didn't trouble Anupam and his friend. We reached WSL Jeep at 9 PM and handed over the car. We then found a hotel nearby and checked in.

All this while Rishi, his cousin, Sameer, and Rahul were such a big support that I am sure we wouldn’t have been able to manage it without them. BHPian Anupam offered great help and BHPian Ron (lapis_lazuli) kept offering expert advice/guidance over the phone throughout the journey. Rest of the members from Delhi kept checking our well-being frequently and offered help/support whenever required. While I definitely can’t thank all these guys enough, I also want to credit Team-BHP for introducing me to such fantastic friends and human beings.

Day 5 - After checking, WSL team confirmed that the alternator had gone kaput and needed replacement BUT it was not in stock anywhere in North so, had to be ordered and would take 7-10 days for the shipment. Their preferred (value-add) partner was closed on Monday so, repairing too would be difficult. I spoke to the area-manager again and he offered to get it repaired by a third-party only to ensure that I reach home and could then get it replaced. I agreed and they proceeded with the repair.

Day 6 - Checked out from the hotel and reached the dealership around noon. Went on an extended road-test and everything seemed fine. The battery alarm had also gone. The SA confirmed that the car won’t give any issues but it’s better to get the alternator replaced at the earliest. We paid the bill, thanked everyone and left.

First stop was Nik Baker’s, Dera Bassi again. Enjoyed the food and watching a Punjabi music video being shot.

Next stop - Mannat Haveli

Cruised back home without any issues. Reached home at 8 pm after crossing heavy traffic in Delhi.

An adventurous trip but still close to our hearts for two reasons:
  • Last year while being tied to the dialysis machine, I didn’t even know whether I would see this year, let alone make a road-trip. Life is all about uncertainties. Just go with it and face whatever it throws your way.
  • The amazing friends that came to our rescue when needed.

Ending on another boring note

I wanted to share what I learnt in the past couple of years.
  • Be prepared for the uncertainties: When I was travelling across the USA, I had no idea that my life will take such a turn within a few months. I used to spend a lot of what I earned on food, travel, and other luxuries in life. While all the spending has given me some beautiful memories to cherish, I have realised the importance of investments. Taking a good healthcare policy while it’s available and a couple of term-insurances is extremely important for everyone. Once a disease like this happens, no company is willing to insure.
  • Value the people in your life: At a moment of crisis, neither your accomplishments nor your ego helps you. It’s the people in your life that matter. Love your family, value your friends, and respect your colleagues. They are the ones who are going to matter and help you get through.
  • Work with the right people: Choose a well-meaning employer over a well-paying one.
  • Take care of your health: Last but in no way, the least, take good care of your health. Every day, I just pray that I could go back in time and make amends to my eating and sleeping habits, and manage my physical and emotional well-being. While I am a non-smoker and teetotaller, I still did a lot of damage to my body by eating irregularly and irresponsibly. I also used to sleep less and drink lesser water. Please treat your body well because some damages are irreversible.
  • Choose your doctor carefully: A presumably well-meaning doctor had put me on a trial of steroids before transplant which in the hindsight turned out to be more damaging than good. I had put on some 25 kilos, my creatinine shot up from 4.2 to 14 in four months, and there were loads of other side-effects. Take multiple opinions and then take a wise decision.
  • Enjoy your life, while you can.

I would like to sum up with my favourite quote.

“We cannot control the things life does to us. They are done before you know it, and once they are done, they make you do other things. Until at last everything comes between you and the man you wanted to be.”

If you are still here, thank you for reading!

Some pics in subsequent posts.

Biraj 28th February 2018 19:49

re: Road-trip: Ghaziabad to Mashobra
26 Attachment(s)

Day 1:
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Day 2:
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Day 4:
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Day 6:
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Day 1

Traffic in Delhi
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Inspection at the start of the trip
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Crusoe at Gulshan Dhaba
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Checking in at Nik Baker's
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On the way to Panchkula
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A treat at the end of the day
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Day 2

View outside the hotel
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The non-revolving restaurant
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Few people decided to fight and block the traffic, including an Ambulance. :Frustrati
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Widening of the road
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The revolutionary Autowalah
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Club Mahindra, Kandaghat

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Club Mahindra, Mashobra

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Light on the shining armour
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The crowded movie hall :)
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Biraj 28th February 2018 20:21

Re: Ghaziabad to anywhere, after two years, and Mashobra to Ghaziabad in 56 hours…
22 Attachment(s)
Day 3:

A beautiful labrador taking a stroll outside the resort.
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Intermittent spell of rain

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Delicious Biryani with delightful view
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Cute visitor wanted a share of our meal
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Candlelight dinner arranged for our anniversary. Drinks are mocktails...
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Day 4

Dessert to start the day :D
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Crusoe, before we checked out of the resort
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The cute visitor came to bid us goodbye
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Crusoe on the flat-bed
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Day 5 - Crusoe's birthday

Crusoe's birthday inside a workshop :'(

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Day 6

Outside WSL Jeep
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Another stoppage at Nik Baker's
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Punjabi music video being shot
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Final, food stop of the trip at Mannat Haveli
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GTO 1st March 2018 07:59

Re: Road-trip: Ghaziabad to Mashobra
Thread moved from the Assembly Line to the Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing!

Wishing you good health, Biraj!

N4Nikunj 1st March 2018 09:09

Re: Road-trip: Ghaziabad to Mashobra
Dear Biraj,

Hats off to you for such trip despite your health condition. Nice write up and good photos too.

Wishing you speedy recovery and good health.

amit_shimla 1st March 2018 11:45

Re: Road-trip: Ghaziabad to Mashobra
Wonderful choice of words, every thing summarised so brilliantly that who need pictures. By the way next time you visit Shimla, may be we can catch up. And I wish you a speedy recovery.

charanreddy 1st March 2018 12:07

Re: Road-trip: Ghaziabad to Mashobra

Originally Posted by Biraj (Post 4364319)
[b][i][u]Ending on another boring note
“We cannot control the things life does to us. They are done before you know it, and once they are done, they make you do other things. Until at last everything comes between you and the man you wanted to be.”

@ Biraj, Golden words these. I can personally relate to them as well and the way you have beautifully articulated, the message will stick with me.. Wishing you good health ahead..

arjithin 1st March 2018 12:33

Re: Road-trip: Ghaziabad to Mashobra

Originally Posted by Biraj (Post 4364319)
  • Be prepared for the uncertainties:
  • Enjoy your life, while you can.

Thank you for summarizing this Biraj, cant agree with you more. I want to emphasis on the Insurance part; many of us rely on the employer insurance coverage only, and that will not be sufficient for an bad situation.

Wishing you good health and hoping to see many many more travelogues from you soon.

Dry Ice 1st March 2018 15:19

Re: Road-trip: Ghaziabad to Mashobra
A travelogue like no other. A truly heart warming story this. I pray for your good health and may you undertake many more such trips in the years to come. And thanks for the way you summarised your post.

Reminds me of this post by Samridh way back in 2012, who also had similar things to say after going through a different kind of ordeal.

skchettry 1st March 2018 17:54

Re: Road-trip: Ghaziabad to Mashobra
My friend, this travelogue of yours is a very very special one for me; thanks for sharing it with us. Photos are great so are your words. Despite your present health conditions, you have taken the pains to express your feelings and words of advice picking them up based on your own experiences with life - that's a very noble gesture. Your words, I am sure, will help TBHPians understand your pains and take corrective actions for their own well being.
I wish you an early recovery and healthy and happy years ahead.

motorguy 2nd March 2018 09:28

Re: Road-trip: Ghaziabad to Mashobra
Bro- I know how it feels. I've also got nephropathy as a result of diabetes. Luckily for me I found out about 3 years back on a routine health exam - microalbumin levels were 250.

Saw a nephrologist, changed my food habits and exercise regularly and started the appropriate medicines (ace-inhibitors), blood pressure and diabetes medicines. I also make sure I take all my tests every 3 months.

I sympathize with what you have gone through. And admire you for not complaining but living life the way it should be lived.

All the best!

StallionAmit 2nd March 2018 12:29

Re: Road-trip: Ghaziabad to Mashobra
Hi, a great story and some great advise in the end. I wish you and your loved ones a good health and wish you an awesome life ahead.

Biraj 2nd March 2018 23:54

Re: Road-trip: Ghaziabad to Mashobra

Originally Posted by N4Nikunj (Post 4364506)
Wishing you speedy recovery and good health.

Thanks, Nikunj!


Originally Posted by amit_shimla (Post 4364572)
By the way next time you visit Shimla, may be we can catch up. And I wish you a speedy recovery.

Sure Amit will let you know whenever we plan a trip again. It would have been good to meet you, especially because a big group from Delhi was there.


Originally Posted by charanreddy (Post 4364590)
Wishing you good health ahead..

Thanks, Charan!


Originally Posted by arjithin (Post 4364609)
I want to emphasis on the Insurance part; many of us rely on the employer insurance coverage only, and that will not be sufficient for an bad situation.

True, along with the group insurance, it's important to keep a personal health insurance with significant coverage.


Originally Posted by Dry Ice (Post 4364711)
Reminds me of this post by Samridh way back in 2012, who also had similar things to say after going through a different kind of ordeal.

Thank you Dry Ice, for sharing the link. I can so identify with it. It's usually after facing such a crisis we start valuing the personal relationships more.


Originally Posted by skchettry (Post 4364820)
I wish you an early recovery and healthy and happy years ahead.



Originally Posted by motorguy (Post 4365022)
Bro- I know how it feels.
All the best!

Glad it was diagnosed at the right time. Periodic health checkups are very important. The symptoms of kidney disease do not show up till almost 50% damage is done. Take care of yourself!


Originally Posted by StallionAmit (Post 4365113)
I wish you and your loved ones a good health and wish you an awesome life ahead.

Thanks, Amit!

roby_dk 3rd March 2018 00:56

Re: Road-trip: Ghaziabad to Mashobra
Great write up and hats off to you. I really loved reading the entire post. Wish you speedy recovery and good health.

BTW i am also relying on company provided health insurance seems it is better to have a separate plan.

dailydriver 3rd March 2018 03:58

Re: Road-trip: Ghaziabad to Mashobra
A regular travelogue is supposed to tell a small story - of the way one travelled and lived for a few days, weeks at most. This isn't a regular travelogue, mainly because you told us a different story - of the travels and travails of the last three years of your life; and in doing so touched a raw nerve somewhere.

Without being too philosophical, you have shown us some cardinal truths of life, certain glimpses of humanity, of the value of friendship.

Why should a sister part with a part of her body for her brother? Why would a couple of car enthusiasts go out of their way to help a man whose relationship to them is perhaps only forum deep? Why would you not lose heart in spite of being cold shouldered by luck? The answers to these are the greatest takeaways for me from this log.

To you and to the two women who made this travelogue possible; as well as to the Bhpians who were there for you when you needed them, here's my salute.

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