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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Pradeep went down to Kerala in September to bring back Dhanya and Rithika. At the first rice ball eating (chorunnu in Malayalam) eating in Guruvayoor, we didn’t get to take any pictures. We did a second one at the Thrikannadevan Krishna Temple at Kattussery.
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.
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.
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.