1. A drive to Selaqui

Trip Start Jul 04, 2010
Trip End Jul 05, 2010

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Where I stayed
Competent Palace Hotel

Flag of India  , Uttar Pradesh,
Saturday, July 3, 2010

It is a cloudy day and drizzling. I love to walk in the rain especially when mist-like-droplets gently fall down but not today for I have an appointment to a cocktail party in a hotel in Selaqui, 25 km from Dehradun in Pachhuwa Doon. As arranged I am to be picked up by Viswajeet but he is facing a problem.

Viswajeet is a senior police officer. Today his house is under media surveillance and he is being shadowed by them. It is a role reversal day for him.

The media has an inkling of some important news story in the offing and are looking for clues. He is therefore, being shadowed under the belief that he holds keys to the news story. They are chasing him with a hope to get it from him and become first to flash it in electronic media. But we are not going to be swayed by them to any disclosure.

His movements are restricted but he proves more artful than the media and escape from the house.

At a point two kilometer away from my house where Municipal road bifurcates to meet EC Road there are couple of shops on either side of the road, a public hydrant and a garbage-dump in between the road-fork. There are few shoppers hanging around. A rag-picker wet in the rain with a rag-sac hanging on his shoulders, is approaching the dirt-dump, soils his hands to pickup sellable items to buy his meals for the day. A couple of dogs too are waddling near the dump in search of food. A lone elderly man is limping his way with the help of a bamboo stick to a medical store nearby. A couple of auto-rickshaw and scooters are parked near the hydrant.

At this spot behind the hydrant under the shadow of dense canopy of jarul trees, a incognito Toyota land-cruiser is stationed. It is planned that the car wait for us here to take us to Selaqui once we have successfully dodged the media. 

Viswajeet leaves his house in another car on the pretext of important official work. I have been waiting for him for a very long time pacing up and down the driveway. Finally I get a call from him to be in readiness to leave. He comes, picks me up and we dash to the spot where toyota is waiting. We quickly change vehicles, get into Toyota and drive away fast towards our destination.

The excitment builds up as the western sky smiles on us with the rosy glow of the setting sun. And we are happy that our plan has been successfuly executed. Soon we disappear in the heavy traffic in the enveloping darkness of the evening. 

We join all the guests who have already assembled in the Competent Palace Hotel, Selaqui for a pre-wedding cocktail party. The hotel is in the rural area. Only a decade back it was a vergin farmland where the grand hotel stands today. The development has caught up fast in the rural area. Housing colonies, are springing up and technical institutions are rapidly growing in the farmlands and rural landscape is changing with break-neck speed. In return the village life have lost the innocence that they prided with earlier. It is no more an idyllic place to enjoy few moments of bliss but is now fast growing in materialism. It is, however, still far behind from the din, noises of the fast life of the cities.
The Rural Charm still remains.

The musical instrument players are in attendance to play any song or symphony requested by the assembly. There is fun and gaiety and jubilations in a festive ambience. The evening begins with rendering of a popular qawwali by qawwals from amongst our gathering. They are traditionally dressed as qawwals of yore. The singers in our party sing number of pop-songs. Both ladies and babies enliven the atmosphere with their dance performances.

We were quite unawares of the developing crowd outside the hotel until it became a large one. Some of them are curious locals on lookers and some journalists and some lens-men, craning their necks to know about the ongoing celebration. We thought we have hoodwinked media but they are every where and have caught up with us. They are amused and happy that their effort bore fruits as eventually they got away with a news story they wanted for the media to splash all over...while we were all this time basking under the warmth of our cunning ...

But they knew only the half truth.

The cocktail party was on the eve of a special wedding.
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