Activa called Jupiter

We bought Jupiter home yesterday on December 2, 2019.

Pradeep taking delivery of the Activa
Pradeep taking delivery of the Activa

The Contenders

We were thinking of buying a scooter for Dhanya to help her get our daughter to school, do errands locally and give her some independent mobility. The scooters we considered were the TVS Jupiter and Honda Activa.

Shopping Experience

I really enjoyed the shopping experience I was offered at TVS Century showroom on Alandi Road, Pune. The salesperson showed us the available alternatives, answered queries patiently and made useful suggestions as per our requirement. Only then did he take us through the cost and financing options. Dhanya also enjoyed her test drive of the vehicle and after the showroom visit, we were quite keen on owning a Jupiter.

The experience at the Shanti Honda showroom was the polar opposite. The salesperson asked us what we were looking for. He brought his cost sheet and began explaining what we would be paying for the two wheeler. He then explained financing options. He lost interest when we said we would be self financing the vehicle. We asked for a test drive which he offered reluctantly.

The Verdict

We asked friends and our parents for feedback on both vehicles. As we kept hearing the feedback, we were disheartened that we might not be able to choose a Jupiter. It seems to come with a history of niggling problems and sub-par after sales service that takes the years off the vehicle. Although many people felt the Jupiter was a better riding experience not everyone agreed on whether it was a good vehicle to own. As I was buying this with my own hard earned money, I went with the safer option of buying a Honda Activa.

The Delivery

As I said above, we took delivery of the Honda Activa yesterday on December 2, 2019. The Jupiter has us so captivated, that in our conversations with each other we were never able to say Activa. We kept referring to it as Jupiter. Hence, we decided to name her Jupiter so that it fixes what we call it.

We took her to the Ayyappa Temple at Dhanori. We got a Vahana Pooja done and took her home.

My friends in Lonar

Pradeep ettan got promoted and transferred to SBI Lonar branch. Lonar is a place which is not accessible by rail. The roads were under repair. The nearest railway station is Jalna, two and a half hours away while the nearest airport is Aurangabad, which is three and a half hours away.

Lonar is a rural area which has no facilities like hospital, school, college etc. Only two-three seasonal vegetables and fruits are available. Pradeep ettan was born and raised in Mumbai while I was born and raised in Alathur, Palakkad in Kerala. While, I am also from a rural area, it was difficult for me to stay in Lonar. When I saw Lonar I felt my home town, Alathur was a metropolitan city. The only thing to see in Lonar is the Lonar crater.

Lonar Crater. Image: Dhanya Vallat

The regional language is Marathi and I don’t speak Marathi.Hence, I was unable to communicate with people there. By God’s grace, I got a very good neighbour,  Nanda Sancheti .  She became my good friend. She is very down to earth, always smiling and ready to help people. She is the one who always had solutions to every problem. She worked as a teacher in their school called World School in Gaikhed and they run a jewelry shop.

Selfie with Nanda. Image: Dhanya Vallat
Selfie with me and my friends. Image: Dhanya Vallat
Rithika with her friends Bhakti and Stuti. Image: Dhanya Vallat

She is having 2 sweet and cute children Stuti and Bhakti. Bhakti is one year elder to   Rithika. They became friends and always wanted to spend time together. But when they meet, both have complaints (Maa Rithika ka ne woh kiya, Bhakti ne woh liya, etc.) about each other. My other friends in Lonar are Priyanka Madane, Priyanka Hinge, Sanvi Chetan Thakre and Shobha Pund. Because of them, our stay in Lonar became bearable.

Aurangabad

We decided to spend a two day holiday at Aurangabad. Aurangabad is close to 150 km from our current base at Lonar. We had a pleasant three day stay in Aurangabad. We went mostly for buying stuff for our home. Pictures are from our stay in the hotel.


Aurangabad reminded us so much of Mumbai because it has one of the only nearby malls. We also drove rather leisurely and enjoyed the ride with music. We didn’t want to rush back to Lonar and stayed on for another day.

Diwali 2018

It was our first Diwali in Lonar in a rental house. Dhanya wanted to celebrate by lighting a lot of lamps.

She had bought a dozen lamps in one of her trips to Akola. On another visit she managed to purchase a handsome hanging lantern and a larger lamp.

On Diwali, she lit all the lamps and we managed to take a lot of pics that we shared via our feed on Instagram. Above we have a video tour of all the lamps mentioned in this post. The hanging lantern was one of the most commented and asked about in the collection.

My father wanted us to buy crackers to show Rithika. He asked us to atleast light sparklers. We ended up lighting up none, this Diwali.

Bringing Rithika Home

After a long wait of about 8 months, Dhanya and Rithika joined Pradeep in Mumbai. Dhanya’s parents joined her on this journey. It was Rithika’s first air flight. She disliked the extension seat belt and slept through most of her flight. We also celebrated my thirty first birthday on this trip.

The trip also had Rithika’s first visit to a beach – Chavakad near Guruvayoor. She totally enjoyed the wind and did not like leaving the place. This was a day before the chorunnu in Guruvayoor.

Independence Day Trip to Kerala

Pradeep travelled to Kerala being unable to stay in Mumbai away from Dhanya and Rithika. Pradeep had last seen them in June.

We also went driving to Dhanya’s house and to my relative’s. We parted once before Pradeep brings back Dhanya and Rithika to Mumbai in the end of September. Rithika turns 4 months old today.

Leaving Dhanya Home

We left Mumbai for Coimbatore on a Jet Airways flight to leave Dhanya at her maternal home on 27 January, 2017. It was a long time since Pradeep’s father and mother had left for Coimbatore after their retirement. So, our first stop was changed from Kochi to Coimbatore.

 

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Lounging in the Mumbai T2 Terminal
Our flight was delayed an hour but we got a warm welcome from Pradeep’s parents and brother. We went to Pradeep’s house in Kovai Pudur and then spent a day there.

We went to Dhanya’s house on Sunday afternoon and left in the afternoon for Keralassery. At Keralassery, we went to Sree Koottala Bhagavathy Temple and Ayanari Ayappa Temple. After spending the night there we returned to Dhanya’s home on Monday for two days of pooja. We took the oppertunity to go to Dhanya’s ancestral temple at Pazhayannur Bhagvathy Temple. We then returned going to the Puthukulungara Bhagvathy Temple. In the evening, we went to Pradeep’s maternal grandfather’s favourite temple, Thrippallur Siva Temple.

We then stayed a night in Palakkad. In the morning, we went to the Manapully Bhagavthy Temple. The next day we went to Pradeep’s father’s ancestral temple at Thenur Moodarumpetta Bhagvathy Temple across the railway line. We then returned to Kovai Pudur.

On the next day we visited the Arsha Vidya Gurukulam in Annaikatti.

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Dhanya wanted a pic with the lions at the Arsha Vidya Gurukulam in Annaikatti
Pradeep’s father then made the decision to visit the queen of hill stations, Ooty. We booked a car to take us there which was a nice decision in hindsight as the ride was gruelling at more than 3 hours each way. Both ways, we stopped at the Sree Annapurna hotel in Mettupalayam.

Pradeep left on Sunday back to Mumbai.

Pune

I wanted my first visit with Dhanya to begin with a visit to the Dagdusheth Halwai Ganpati Temple. So, when Dhanya wanted to begin to visit places near Mumbai, I thought it was time to visit Pune. Dad suggested we check in to Vivanta by Taj Blue Diamond in Pune and drive to Pune.

We left Mumbai around 8:30 in the morning in our white Swift car. Driving along the Sion-Panvel highway we reached the Mumbai-Pune Expressway without any issues. The drive on the Expressway was also eventless and we whiled away time listening to the radio. Once we reached closer to Pune, we switched on Google Maps to help us navigate to Vishrantwadi Junction in Pune. The route was reasonably reliable, though it took us through a maze of lanes that we were not familiar with and at times were doubtful whether we had got lost in the maze. However, as we got close to the Junction, signposts appeared helpfully. Pune is developing its own BRTS for which work seems to be progressing. There was drizzle enroute to Pune but it really started pouring when we were waiting for Dhanya’s friend’s husband, Rakesh.

He came in his white Swift and guided us to their house in Dhanori, quite close to the airport. We had vegetarian biriyani and kurma for lunch. This was followed by dessert. Dhanya’s friend is also named Dhanya. Both of them went to college together in their BBA days. They had a lot of catching up to do and so Rakesh and I left them to do the talking.

We left their house and again with great help from Google Maps, found our way to Blue Diamond hotel. We slept a while, soaking in the cushioned beds under the warm blankets, cherishing a moment of togetherness. We then went to the up and coming Koregaon Plaza mall and returned to the room quickly for a night out in a pub.

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Dhanya’s friend, Dhanya with her husband, Rakesh

 

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Dhanya and me at the Independence Brewing Co.

Dhanya and Rakesh picked us up at the Taj. Both Dhanyas had spent considerable time discussing what to wear. We went to the Independence Brewing Co. For both Dhanyas it was their first pub experience. Everyone enjoyed themselves with drinks and lots of photos taken for keepsake. They dropped us at the Taj again on their way back home. We were both exhausted from the long drive and promptly went to bed to sleep.

Rakesh had mentioned in his conversations on the day before that they were going to Lavasa and asked if we were interested in coming along. We were planning to return to Mumbai that afternoon after checking out at around 12 pm. I considered not going but realised that we had come most of the way to Lavasa and without company might not go to Lavasa on our own. I confirmed that we would be coming after a visit to the Dagdhusheth temple. I said we’d confirm times on the next day.

The next day we awoke at 6:30 am. We got ready and used the Taj’s car to take us to Dagdhusheth temple. I was not sure if there would be any lines and also wasn’t sure if we’d get parking there. We got an easy and early darshan there and made our way back to the hotel by 9 am. We caught the Taj’s sumptuous breakfast spread.

We then headed to Lavasa in our respective Swift cars. The plan was to drive to Lavasa, grab a bite of lunch there and then head back to Mumbai that day afternoon. The drive to Lavasa, though, surprised and it was afternoon by the time we got there. After parking our cars, we walked on the lakeside in the rains. We grabbed a bite of pizza at Smokin’ Joe’s. There Rakesh got news that a landslide on the Mumbai Pune Expressway had led to its closure. The news came out that people had died in the landslide and it was suggested that the old Mumbai-Pune Highway, the NH4 be taken. We drove back to Pune in the hopes that the landslide would be cleared and we could head back to Mumbai that night.

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Both Dhanyas met in Pune after a looonnng time.

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Both cars chilling after the long trip to Lavasa.

It was 5 pm by the time we reached Wakad junction and both Rakesh and my father in Mumbai suggested we stay the night and attempt to head back to Mumbai only early next morning. Accordingly, we headed back again to Dhanya’s friends house for the night. We had rice and onion sambar that night for dinner. It was midnight by the time we slept that night.

We headed back to Mumbai early that morning. There was no traffic jam and the landslide was cleared from all four lanes of the Expressway. There were light to moderate showers but we reached back home at 9, just in time to head back to another week at work.

Our Wedding

10984059_10200152360167275_8861360194185534929_nAlthough I had seen weddings of cousins and friends this was still new to me. Our weddings are short and sweet with the whole process getting over in under 2 minutes if you timed it. But, this small tradition marks the beginning of a life long relationship between two people, two families and two family trees.

Our marriage was held at the Sree Pavithra Auditorium in Alathur at 11:30 AM on Sunday, 7th December, 2014.