21 October 2008

Gwalior follows Mathura: Tank Ride, Palace and Fort

For my son his grandfather represents two major activities. The first is golf which both of them play with equal seriousness. The second is Tanks, which both of them enjoy a ride on anytime possible. So it was natural for my son to be very disappointed that Grandpa came to visit him without his golf bag. To make up to him for this horrible happening, Grandpa decided that a tank ride was in order. Unfortunately there are no tanks in Agra, so we traveled to the closest Tank Regiment located at Gwalior. This was also one of the two regiments that he had served with making the ride so much easier and accessible.

We drove down with my hubby at the wheel of his WagonR and made reasonably good time. The roads were bad only in one small patch where some construction work for a flyover was taking place. I feel all stretches of Indian roads have this problem these days. Still we had no reason to complain, as we met up with our guides (in a good old fashioned Jonga) and proceeded through the various twists and turns of the town into the Cantt and finally the Mess Guest Rooms.

After our arrival Dad had to go for Tea with the Officers and Men. So we hopped in with him and hoped to finish our tank ride as well. In the time that it took them to fix up the tank and take it out to the training area we were shown around the unit offices and then we were ready. We went in the Gypsy to the place where the tank was waiting for us and a cheer was sent up by my son. He was nice and eager for the ride, although Panda Book was still in his hands. The Uncle who was waiting for us took him up and gently dislodged the Panda Book from his hand and in his excitement over the ride he did not miss it!

We had a nice ride on the way out but on the way back the driver decided to pick up the pace and we had a howling baby on our hands. We had a nice photo session and the two YOs (Young Officers for the uninitiated) showed my husband the workings of the Tank and discussed mechanical details while I took my weeping baby off the monster and stood talking with the RM (Risaldar Major) who had last seen me as an eleven year old. Then we came back to report our trip to Nani Ma and have lunch before setting out to the palace.

The Scindhia dynasty has turned part of the ancestral palace into a museum. AS have almost all the royalty left in India to supplement their meager incomes not that this royal family has financial troubles. An active political presence has ensured that they still retain the power that they wielded for thirteen generations. The museum had some very interesting sections. I personally was enthralled by all their crockery and the cut glass train. More details on this on the other blog.

The evening was spent watching a light and sound show in Amitabh Bachan’s voice at Gwalior Fort. Quite interesting if somewhat distorted recap of history. After all the victor will write history. Then we came back to the mess and met up with the rest of the unit ladies and officers at a formal sit down dinner. More about this in the other blog as well specially since this has become a rather long post..

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