Richard & Ramona with Pappu & Rattan, April 2009

We left for India on April 10th. After a turbulent flight we arrived late in Delhi. Luckily the formalities did not take too long and we introduced ourselves to Pappu. A nice man, but also a man of few words. We checked into our hotel and had a good night sleep. The next day we had plans to go to Delhi and, still very tired, the impressions we got of the city weighed heavy on our emotions. We were very impressed with the way people live there.

The next day we continued our journey and went to Jaipur. After a very long ride (the interstate was not accessible due to an accident) including 50 km through many lovely villages, we arrived in Jaipur. We went to a nice hotel (Jaipur Heritage), had a quick bite to eat and after that we planned to have a good night sleep.

Unfortunately Ramona got sick, probably from a drink she had. Due to this, we had to take the next day off. We decided to wait till Ramona’s condition improved, so we stayed in Jaipur for three days. Pappu was a great help during these days, by supplying us with medicine and yoghurt. Ramona recovered quickly.

On our way to Ranthambhore, we took a short stop at the Monkeytemple. We got back in the car soon, since we had a long way ahead of us. After this we stopped a couple of times for chai and a smoking break for Pappu and Richard.

Wait a second? Are my eyes deceiving me? Is Pappu asleep? Behind the wheel? No, it must be my imagination, but I thought I had noticed it on our way to Jaipur too. But oh well, it is very hot and a long journey. In the evening, just to be safe, we sent an email to Rob with our suspicions and our doubts and fears about continuing our journey with Pappu.

The next morning we got up early, because we had plans to go on a safari and spot wildlife. After some deer, peacocks, monkeys and small crocodiles we saw a real life Tiger. We enjoyed the sight of the morning sun intensely. It was beautiful.

After a delicious breakfast Pappu arrived, now more relaxed, and we had a some fun together. He had spoken to some other drivers and he had heard that there was another way to Orccha. There sure was: a 140 km long road made of sand and rubble and full of holes and bumps. After 8 very long hours we arrived in Orccha and through the day we contacted Rob and Rattan a couple of times.

Pappu was unfortunately also quite sleepy during this ride, but luckily he could not drive very fast on the bad road (oops: nearly a head-to-head collision). Rob and Rattan immidiately took action (applause!) and Rattan travelled from Delhi to Orccha by public transport.

After a journey of more than 12 hours Rattan arrived to take over from Papu, all with a smile on his face. We decided to continue our journey with two chauffeurs (how luxurious). And what a great solution. By the way, Orccha is a very nice town with a great ambiance.

We travelled from Orccha to Khajuraho with our two chauffeurs. A nice way to get to know Rattan, who was in the drivers seat next to Pappu. We talked the whole time and of course we showed the photos of our 1 year old son, who was staying at his grand parents. In the evening in Khajuraho we had a lot of fun with the other chauffeurs at the parking lot/ garden of the hotel.

The next day we visited the temples, which were very beautiful. De day after that we had to take a quick stop at a ‘doctors’ office, due to Ramona’s eye infection (she did not have a lot of luck in India). After paying at least 500 rupees too much, we travelled back to Orccha to spend the night there.

Agra and the impressive Taj Mahal. Late in the afternoon we arrived in Agra. We visited the fort, which offered us a great view. To be honest, the rest of the trip was not very exciting. After this we drove to the back of the Taj Mahal and then we went straight to bed where mosquitos were waiting to get us.

The next morning we got up at 5 am and at 5.45 we arrived at the gates of the Taj. Very impressive indeed and it gave us the opportunity to take pictures of the Taj Mahal without the tourists. After a few hours of being amazed by this beautiful building, we went back, because we were quite hungry.

On to Delhi. We were not looking forward to this, because Delhi did not leave a good impression on us. We arrived at the hotel we slept in the first nights of our trip and we said goodbye to Pappu, since Rattan would be our driver for the rest of our vacation. It was a weird moment, because Pappu is a nice, hardworking man who had helped us a lot. Forced goodbyes are never fun.

On the other hand a sleeping driver is not an option either and unfortunately Rob and Rattan no longer hire Pappu as a driver. After an awkward farewell, we had a bite to eat and we wandered through the city for a bit, which felt a lot better than the first time we visited Delhi. Very busy and a great ambiance. It was especially enjoyable when Ramona was allowed by the store owner to try out a very beautiful and very expensive sari. For a moment, she imagined she was a princess.

The next morning we went to Rishikesh with Rattan (and without Pappu). A lovely hotel with an amazing view over the Ganges river. A beautiful setting, given our love for mountains. We did quite some sight-seeying, had a delicious meal on our balcony with Rattan and talked about everything and nothing.

The following days were very special too, maybe because it was a city for pilgrims, I don’t know. We spoke, laughed and cried with Rattan for hours while standing in the Ganga. Very special and something we will never forget. But every good thing comes to an end.

Back to Delhi and back to our home and Robbin (our son). We freshened up in the hotel we mentioned earlier and went to Rattans house. He had invited us over for dinner and introduced us to his wife and three kids. In there, we were surprised by a beautiful painting. Sometimes you simply can’t find the words. Unfortunately we did not have a lot of time, seeing we had to catch our flight. We had to say goodbye too fast and before we knew it, we were in a plane with an indescribable feeling.

Rob and Rattan: many thanks for your intervention, driving skills, personality and general help. It was a great way to travel through India and we will certainly come back one day.

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