OK, so with Appa coming down with a migraine the plan of going to Mussoorie (with Appa, Omar n Ajit) fell to pieces, and so I tagged along with Dad n Mom to Chandigarh where Dad had some meeting. We reached there on the 20th night and checked in to the Union Territory Guest House (Chandigarh is a UT cause Punjab n Haryana keep arguing over who owns it).
Now lucky Dad got to attend his meeting in some fancy conference room with important people. I, on the other hand got to go shopping with Mom. We went to the sector-17 market, which basically turned out like Patna's Maurya Lok (no fancy mall here), and shop for shoes and salwaar-kameez. Why, why, why do women always need more shoes? Anyways, I had my iPod with me -- so I plugged my ears with those little white earphones, randomly nodding every now and then as Mom pointed out clothes she liked. Of course, she immediately figured out I was hardly paying attention and stopped asking me for suggestions. The shop walas on the other hand, would get infuriated, wondering what I was doing in their shop - listening to music and snoozing on one of their couches (this was especially a problem when Mom walked off to another corner of the shop and the shop guy had no idea who I was with).
So after five hours of shopping in Chandigarh for stuff we could get in Delhi, we had lunch and rendezvoused with Dad. It was finally time to go sightseeing. Unfortunately, it didn't take long to figure out that there isn't too much to see in Chandigarh. We first saw the rose garden that did not have any roses in the summer. Then we saw the Museum of Evolution of Life, which fortunately was open in the summer and turned out to be slightly interesting. The Museum was divided into 3 sections - the first contained unrealistically colorful paintings of exotic birds, all painted by some Jasbir Singh (or some name like that); the second section was a dome with large wall portraits of different stages of evolution of life on the earth; and the third section had life models of dinosaurs and humans during evolution.
On the way we saw a double-decker bus (like those New York tourist shuttles) cheerfully painted 'Hop-On-Hop-Off tourist coach'. So we hopped on hoping that the bus would show us some good places in Chandigarh. Now in a tourist bus, the driver/conductor/guide is supposed to tell the tourists, "hey, this is this place, and that is that place" - but no, why should Chandigarh tourism give you that luxury? So the bus basically drives around the city like any other bus, stopping at times for people to get on and off, and drives back to the starting point. Tour over, and we had no clue as to what we had seen in the past hour. (Once the bus even came to a point where the driver said we would stop for a five minute break, but it was not till Dad asked that we found out that the place was Punjab University, where Manmohan Singh had studied.) I was so bored by then that when our car driver stopped at the Rock Garden, I urged him to drive on -- later I found out that that's the only place worth seeing in Chandigarh.
This day was definitely more eventful. We went to Anantpur Sahib where we saw three Gurudwaras and a 300 crore project by the Punjab govt to make a museum-cum-heritage complex on Sikh history. Then we proceeded 125 kms off, to the Bhakra Nangal Dam, India's first multipurpose hydro project built under the guidance of Nehru (then leaders from over nine countries came to see the Dam). The Dam itself is three times the height of the Qutub Minar and the falling crystal blue water created quite a scene. Cameras are not allowed due to security reasons, but not only did I manage to sneak a camera in, I also took a photo of one of the smaller dams (I could not take a pic of the main dam due to tighter security but its pic is available online HERE).
22nd Evening (4 pm):
So we came back to the guest house from Bhakra Nangal, switched cars, and left for Delhi. On the way, we met a traffic jam apparently caused by gaon ke sardarjis who had parked tractors across the road and were complaining that they weren't getting electricity. Soon the local DIG and SDO came (in that order) to clear up the jam. When Dad saw the SDO, he started explaining to me the dynamics of the SDO's and the daroga's work. A chalak daroga would convince the gaon walas to clearup, then later lodge an FIR against them, while a good SDO had to time his appearance perfectly - if he comes too soon, the infuriated sardarjis would refuse to move; if he comes too late, the situation may get out of hand. Once the jam cleared, our driver, irritated by the hour delay, turned on the car's siren and the red beacon light on top wailing through the crowd at full speed.
We finally stopped at a place to eat. I did not eat then but my hunger quickly returned when I saw a Baskin Robbins counter along the highway from where I got a Brownie-a-la-mode ice-cream for a hundred bucks (remember my previous comment about naming over-priced items?)
It was not till I finally heard Simran's voice on the car FM that I knew we were near Delhi. We reached home at 11:30 pm.