Vijay drove the whole way ("you are not used to the highway", he told me, much to my chagrin), and we went slow. The road was great from Hyderabad to Sholapur. There were lots of trees on both sides, and after dark, we drove under a dazzling, starry night---truly the highlight of the trip for me because I miss this sight in the city. I wished we could pitch a tent and sleep under that sky that night...
But Hotel Surya in Sholapur was where we spent the night, to continue our drive in the morning, on a great stretch of dug-up nothingness from Sholapur till the outskirts of Pune. Work is ongoing to make a four-lane road, and for miles, we drove past tree stumps that made me angry and depressed. WHY could they not have planned roads on either side of the trees?
For me, one of the joys of road travel are the lorries! I just love lorry art and delight in taking pictures of colourful lorry backsides, with their inimitable slogans. I also enjoyed looking at sugarcane fields, the shacks outside selling fresh sugarcane juice (didn't dare drink it, though); sorghum, banana and grape fields; a papaya orchard, one more growing pomegranate; several brick kilns; and on reaching the outskirts of Pune, plenty of nurseries--always a welcome sight. The dhaba stopovers were fun too.
We picked up Ragini in Pune and drove to Mumbai the next day, for Vijay's niece Nayantara's arangetram. The Expressway was a delight to drive on (minimum 100 kmph) and we were in Mumbai is about 3 hours. Nayantara's performance that evening was flawless and the whole program, extremely enjoyable. I felt that this arangetram, unlike some I attended, was not an ego-trip for parents...Nayantara is fortunate to have a perfectionist teacher in Ms Nalini Raghu, who likes things to be elegant and just right. In times of mediocrity and hypocricy, what a pleasure it was to see something simple, meaningful and brilliant!
The way back was somewhat similar, except that Pune-Sholapur seemed worse, and Sholapur-Hyderabad seemed better. We had missed the view of Naldurg fort earlier, and got a good glimpse of it on the way back. It is massive, and reminded me of Bidar fort.
And we got home, the four of us, and as we got the stuff out, the car seemed to smile at us, and Maloo said it wagged a non-existent tail :) :)