Before starting the blog, let me ask you, have you watched the movie “Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd?” If yes, you’ll keep relating this blog with the film. Well, I felt I was on a sequel of Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd., or maybe it was Deja vu. Please keep reading to know about my enthralling Kashmir tour.
Welcome back to day 2 of the Kashmir blog series. You can read the day one blog here if you haven’t yet.
After experiencing the houseboat stay, we left for Pahalgam early in the morning. It was a pleasant morning, and Dal lake looked beautiful in the daylight, straight out of a painting.
We boarded our bus and left for Pahalgam, witnessing the most serene sights alongside the roads. The gorgeous white rivers, the wide-spread green patches, the gigantic mountains, and the clear blue skies were all a treat to our eyes. We tried capturing the scenic beauty on our phones, but thanks to the excellent driving skills of the driver, none of us could shoot a stable video.
Now let me tell you the highlights of day two of our Honeymoon Travels special tour:
The meet and greet
I was happy and hopeful with the entire vibe of the group. We were 12 couples escorted by two Veena World guides. The unknown faces at the airports had become familiar on the second day. The curiosity to know everyone was rising with every minute.
That’s when the guides thought of utilizing the travel time and taking the first step toward breaking the ice between all the co-travellers. They announced a meet and greet session to know each other better. I was thrilled at the idea of knowing the names (though I’m very weak in remembering names), their hobbies, and other whereabouts.
So, it went like this – each one had to go in the front and introduce themselves. As we were on a Honeymoon special tour, each one instinctively said something about their marriage or partner. While most of the couples were just a month or two into marriage, we were there to celebrate our first anniversary.
I was curious about the couple who had completed eight years of marriage and still looked profoundly connected and in love with each other. “I’ll have to talk to them”, I made a mental note.
The story that amazed me the most was of the “WE” couple I mentioned in my previous blog. Theirs was a love cum arranged marriage, and I saw they were delighted to have met each other. The constant smile on their face just set the mood right for everybody on the bus.
I was eager to know each one of them a little more closely. After all, I needed content for my blog and memories I’d cherish all my life.
When it was my husband’s turn, I was pleasantly surprised by how wittily he slipped our love story into his introduction. He has seldom done that in public, and by then, I knew our trip had started on the right note. He was into the mood – all thanks to the fellow newly married couples.
I then knew why my father insisted on going specifically on a Honeymoon package.
Unwittingly, life sometimes becomes monotonous for couples. The spark between them begins to wear off, which needs to be brought back before it’s too late. That’s when such trips help.
When it was my turn, I spoke about my books. My father had said, “Don’t hesitate to talk about your books. These are the open forums where you can promote yourself”. I think I overdid it. After I had finished talking, I realized I spoke as if it was an Instagram live.
Kesar, walnut, almonds shopping
Our first halt was at Kissan Kesar shop, which was apparently the best in dry-fruit supplies. They welcomed us with the famous Kashmiri Kahwa drink, followed by a piece of brief information about Kesar production and the benefits of the dry fruits.
By now, we had become well-versed with the tour guides – Sagar Mhatre and Jayesh Pawar. I was impressed by their hospitality at every stage of the journey. We all got quite comfortable with them in no time. Deep down, they had already gained our trust so much that we believed the shop we had come to was the best one.
In the next 30 to 40 minutes, each couple had made a bill of at least 3000 bucks. The maximum bill I know was 12000. Undoubtedly, all the products were of top-notch quality, but marketing had the upper hand from Veena world and the smart shopkeepers.
After a lot of shopping, our next stop was at Apple valley. It was an apple garden where they grew three export-quality apples. Among the three top-quality apples, India exported the first quality. The gardeners treated us with freshly extracted delicious apple juice.
Everyone there was more interested in clicking pictures with the apples than eating them. My husband and I tried copying the other couples for poses. I felt old school amongst the newly married couples for I wasn’t as enthusiastic as they were.
Almost everybody held each other’s hands wherever they went, unlike us. I enjoyed watching the new, delicate and hesitant love. My husband and I have known each other for almost twelve years, and I miss being madly in love with him. But ever since I realized it takes two people to express love in its truest sense, I gave up trying to find it once again.
I sometimes revisit the letters I’ve written to him to relive the love we had between us. Well, something needs to be done!
We then checked into the hotel Outlook, one of the top three hotels in Pahalgam. We had a perfectly cooked chicken and hot served butter rotis for lunch. After going half-stomached the previous night, I have no count of the rotis. The food on the houseboat was not what we expected it to be.
After a satiating lunch, we made friends with a few couples. A happy stomach opens up to other happy moments, it seems. We were asked to make a group of three couples as our next mode of transport was a six-seater car.
Naturally, like-minded people came together after a bit of analysis. I was delighted because our group had the “WE” couple. We were now on talking grounds, and without any further ado, I initiated a conversation with them.
I asked them to share their experience with the matrimonial sites and how did their love flourish. For a change, it was the guy who did the talking. He told me how he met the girl on Jeevansathi.com, and they started chatting on Facebook with the agenda of knowing each other well. All this was new to me, and hence I was all ears.
He narrated the entire story with minute details while she added stuff which he would miss. I was in awe of the matrimonial site that had made the perfect pair out of them. They complimented each other so well. The t-shirts W and E, which they had worn on day one, made sense then. In every sentence, there was at least one “we”. It was never an “I” or a “You”.
Do you remember Abhay Deol and Minissha Lamba from Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd., the superheroes who synchronized in everything they did? This “WE” couple was my Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd. couple. Synchronized and extremely happy to have met each other. And, of course, madly in love with each other.
I had a sweet smile, for I don’t know how long after I knew their love story. Looking away from the window seat into the heavenly Kashmir, I felt relaxed and cosy.
When we reached the Betaab Valley, its charming beauty hypnotized us. The different shades of greens calmed our eyes. Many valleys came together to form a scenic landscape. All the couples spread out in different directions to get their best profile pictures. This place is famous for the movie Betaab. We took tons of group photos here with our tour guides.
I took a few with my books with the gorgeous views.
Aaru Valley was similar to the previous one but did not please us much. There’s a nominal entry fee for both the valleys, which Veena World bore. We only had to enjoy our trip and spend quality time with our spouses; the tour guides took care of everything else.
Veena World made a point to keep our stomachs full at every place we visited. At Aaru Valley, they had arranged for plain Maggi and a cup of tea and coffee.
The highlight of day 2 was a surprise Bonfire after yet another relishing meal. The rule of the bonfire said – each one needs to do something for their partner. I was thrilled at the thought and started thinking of a song I could dedicate to my husband. Meanwhile, other couples got romantic by reciting poems and Shayaris to their better halves.
The couple who had completed eight years of marriage had some beautiful things to share. The wife said, “I’ve been with him for eight years, but it still feels like yesterday. He has been the most supportive husband; these were the best years of my life, always with him by my side. I wish this stays for the rest of our lives”. Listening to her words, I was misty-eyed and could no longer sing.
But my husband was enthusiastic and detailed our story from the Diploma times till we got married. I stayed silent and did not interrupt him. I wanted to hear every word he had to say and let that sink in, as these moments are rare and need to be cherished.
The next couple story was all the more enjoyable. The guy seemed madly in love with his newlywed wife, who had taken seven days to decide whether she would marry him or not. The crowd burst into huge laughter on hearing the story but applauded the poem he had written to her to make her say a “YES”.
I wish someone wrote poems for me, I thought. But it was too late, anyways.
The bonfire ended with a romantic ball dance. All the couples held their partners with sheer love while we danced to soothing Bollywood songs. The love was in the air, and soon we left for our rooms wishing each other good night.
I looked forward to the following day. I was already in love with the group and could not wait but spend some more time with all of them.
I hope you too want to know more about our Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd. trip, don’t you?
So stay tuned for my next blog.
Until then, take care!
P.S. Our Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd. trip got exciting by every passing day.