Honeymoon Dampener!

We made a quick dash to Mahabaleshwar, a hill station near Bombay, for our honeymoon. It was short mainly because I couldn’t get leave but more importantly, that was all we could afford. We had made meticulous expense calculations for travel and stay, even choosing an all-inclusive hotel which would give us three meals on all days. It meant we couldn’t stray too far or too long from the hotel – we couldn’t afford to buy a meal. We had set aside a small amount for excursions or souvenirs but given our constraints, that would be an unlikely indulgence. Also, most of the days we would be there would be working days so rates were much lower.

We left on the evening of our marriage day by a shared taxi to Poona. I don’t remember much about that trip except that we talked and talked and talked non-stop. Our marriage journey had been fraught with turbulence and it had given us enough gossip and controversy to last us a long time. The incessant chatter must have irritated the other passengers, but then who had time for the rest of the world?

The taxi dropped us off at some point from where we had to take an autorickshaw to the hotel where we would stay the night. We were probably still talking when we got off the auto. In the meantime, a minor calamity had struck and left silently.

It was early the next morning that we realized that we had left our small bag containing all our undergarments and toiletries back in the auto! We didn’t have time to shop in Poona so we would have to buy replacements at Mahabaleshwar. The trouble with touristy places is that even undergarments are doubly expensive.

We had some highly involved globe-impacting debates and discussions about our options but finally, we arrived at a momentous decision. Other than the smallest available toothpaste and the cheapest toothbrushes, we decided that the undergarments would be washed every night and worn the next day! We had a lot of fun and laughed a lot while making that decision – including pondering why undergarments are needed at all on a honeymoon! The alternate arrangement would have been acceptable, convenient and enjoyable, but we had to do at least some respectable sightseeing without every tourist knowing what was going on! Luckily, there weren’t too many other guests left at the hotel.

Anyway, entertaining as the decision-making was, it did not turn out to be a very wise one. On the very next morning, it forcefully ‘dawned’ on us that hill stations get very chilly during the night, especially in January, and clothes don’t dry very well at all! How we laughed and laughed that morning, in wet undergarments and all! But I can tell you one thing for certain – damp clothes are not very conducive to honeymoon activities! They literally dampen enthusiasm levels that take a while to come back up!

Well, notwithstanding all that, money was very tight. Excursions were too expensive anyway and out of reach. A souvenir was a better option. We decided to laugh and brave it, come what may.

But proverbs are not written into history for nothing. Fortune chose to favour this brave couple.

Wandering around on the hotel grounds that night after dinner, we saw the elderly caretaker-watchman of the hotel had lit a small fire in one corner to keep warm. It was a Godsend for us! A couple of notes slipped into his hands and a makeshift clothesline appeared like magic over the fire. We rushed back to our room to do what we did for the next seven nights – wash those little pieces of cloth and hang them out to dry for a couple of hours, while we huddled and cuddled and cooed in our blankets next to that wonderful fire! Well, the watchman quickly realized we were honeymooning (it was obvious, I think!) and conveniently started disappearing for long intervals – out of decency or embarrassment, I don’t know!

Well, we didn’t bother to buy another set of undergarments during the trip. We bought each other small gifts instead. We took a bus straight to Bombay on the last day. No cabs and no autos. We took the local train from Dadar station. It was Sunday night. We were stone broke except for some loose change jingling tauntingly in our pockets.

Luckily, it was already the next month. Our salaries had been credited to our accounts. No prizes for guessing what our first purchase was.

Let this not remain a one-way conversation! Your opinions are welcome, especially if you don't agree!!