During my 3 years in Mumbai (1999-2002), I used to travel by train to my hometown Kadapa, once in 2 months on an average. The train leaves around 5 PM and reaches Kadapa at lunch time the next day. I used to relish the journey as it provided me the opportunity to spend time with myself, try out all the food items that are hawked on the train, and finish reading at least 1 book.
But now this Kasi Yatra with family was to be very different. The family wanted to make many different food items to ensure that we are not entirely dependent on what is available on train, and even in the restaurants at Kashi. And none of our people believed in 'traveling light' :-)
So, here's a rough list of what we packed, apart from the clothes:
1.Around 50 plates and 30 bowls made of dried plantain leaves; around 25 paper plates as well.
2. Around 60 big tumblers for drinking water, and 20 small ones for coffee
3.Tissue paper- 1 roll and 50 paper napkins.
4. 250 gm packet of Amul milk powder and 250 gm powdered sugar
5. Medicines kit - covering all the common ailments, plus some bandages, needle and hard twain
6.A set of board games
Now for the food items:
1.Around 100 chapatis, packed in tin foils, with 8 per foil.
2.Tomato chutney, Gongura pickle, Mango pickle and Lime pickle ( Note: I can't vouch for the links I am providing here, I simply picked a site that came up tops in Google search for these items. So, it must be an okay site. There are some specialized sites for Andhra recipes. Interested readers are advised to do their research and if they can not decide can check with me. I will be happy to evaluate the site's content and give my take. I personally like Mahanandi, for its photos. See the site's take on the perennial Telugu favorite Gongura !)
4.Munchies (savory items) and sweets (Minapa Sunni).
Plus, for lunch on day 1 of the journey, the family decided to pack full course meal for all of us - comprising plain steamed rice, mamidikaya pappu (dal), Rasam, and curds (yogurt).
Add all the individual bags with normal clothes, and warm clothing (North India was reeling in a cold wave in January this year, though it didn't deter us from traveling) - for a group of 10 adults and children, we ended up with 24 luggage items !
The idea was to get up very early on Sunday (Jan 13), cook the lunch for the day and pack the same, do the pooja before leaving home, pile into the two vehicles we hired (a Toyota Qualis and a Tata Indica), and zoom off to Tirupati. We wanted to leave home by 7.30 AM and reach Tirupati by 10.30-11 AM.
But my elder brother - Ramana, got up only at 7 AM that too with throat infection and blocking of ears, and announced that he is dropping out of the tour, as he is feeling unwell and can't make the journey. It took all our persuading powers to get him ready and we finally started at 9.30 AM. And by the time we reached Tirupati railway station, the train had been on the platform for well over 15-20 min, leaving us 5 min to get to the platform, get all the people and the luggage into the train, and settle down properly. But thanks to Indian Railways, the train did not leave on time, and though we were tense about missing the train (or some of us/luggage not getting on to the train), we still managed to have it all done. And I quickly dashed to the magazine and fruit stalls to buy lots of magazines, couple of books, fruit, and some freshly baked bread.
Wow ! finally we started the journey and it took me two long blog posts to get here. I promise to cut to the chase from the next post onwards and get into Kashi related stuff.