Achievements should be celebrated. Small or big, the magnitude doesn’t matter. It was a milestone achievement for us, and we ought to have celebrated. Our story started in the early years of the turn of the century. A small group of us—six friends from different walks of life—decided to walk the entrepreneurial journey to form a specialist creative firm. With each passing year, we grew—gradually but surely. It needed a strong and focused approach from everyone in the core team. As they say in the informal corporate lingo—we slogged ourselves.
I won’t say that we haven’t celebrated our business gains—we have; and often it involved crates full of beer. But it was special this year. We completed 15 years of professional success, immense challenges, and countless rounds of creative disagreements, childlike tantrums, and unparalleled romance. It’s been fantastic! The six of us sat down together. Spirits running high, we agreed that we needed a break. Not a very extensive one because too much of each other in a nice cozy setting was just a very revolting thought for each one of us, but a week-long escape would be nice. It was decided, then—we’d go to Udaipur.
It’d be about discussing future plans, exploring new revenue streams, streamlining operations, but more importantly, it’d be about revisiting our friendship and just letting our hair down!
I know it sounds silly, but sometimes you tend to give in to some irrational thoughts — borderline superstitions if you will. When we started our firm we all used to travel together—you might say that we were being frugal. It was my father’s trusty ol’ Toyota Innova. So it was only fitting that I gave the boys a surprise—we’d drive to Udaipur in the new Innova Touring Sport that I’d bought recently.
The Innova has always been known as a dependable, hardworking and resolute car. The Innova Touring Sport is all that, and more luxurious and capable—that makes it doubly appealing!
5:30am, I got behind the wheel and called my buddies—via the car’s bluetooth of course; we’re all responsible folks here after all. With the navigation set for Udaipur on that large infotainment screen, it was a near-700 kilometer drive that’d see us take a couple of halts for driver change and the ever-crucial nature’s calls! This was a faultless and comfortable drive thanks to the Touring Sport immensely comfortable seats and refined suspension and we reached Udaipur around mid-afternoon. It hardly felt like a 10-hour drive and we were still fresh as daisies.
We’d booked our stay at the Taj Lake Palace—considered to be one of the most enchanting and endearing hotels in the world.Photo by: LunaseeStudios / Shutterstock
We’d booked our stay at the Taj Lake Palace—considered to be one of the most enchanting and endearing hotels in the world. It’s an absolutely splendid, grand place to be — words don’t do it justice. It’s a special one among the special ones. This made us feel that we’d arrived—arrived in life.
The Taj Lake Palace is the epitome of grandeur set in the middle of the lake. It’s a floating fortress that reflects the shimmering brilliance of moonlight against the dark setting of the night and beams a happy smile when the Sun warms up its walls. Yes, this would be quite an experience—a magnificent one!
We planned to just go about in the streets of Udaipur to explore the local culture and craftsmanship. Beyond that, we’d be consumed by the many services offered by the Lake Palace and the central idea anyway was to relax and rejuvenate ourselves. We deserved this break after fifteen years of non-stop toil. I was quite blown away by the fact that we could easily maneuver the Innova Touring Sport in the narrow lanes of Udaipur—the effortless steering and the brilliant turning radius came into a harmonious play there I guess!
We’d split our days—we’d talk work in the morning, drive out to explore the city streets in the afternoon and let loose in the evenings, recounting our experiences, our journeys together. And then, there would be moments of silence too—each one of us absorbed in the thoughts perhaps, as I’d like to imagine, and a faint smile would form only to suggest the contentment with our lives so far.
A couple of days in, I decided to give everyone a surprise. No one had been to or around Udaipur other than me so I decided to drive them to the Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur—some four hours away from Udaipur. It was again a very soft, cushy drive with pretty tunes playing through the infotainment system of the Innova Touring Sport.
The highway roads leading up to the Mehrangarh Fort are mostly relatively untenanted so I engaged the cruise control feature and it was an unhurried and peaceful drive with no effort to work the pedals for long stretches. We munched and sipped refreshing liquids—and I must point out here that the foldable setback table is a huge boon for those who like to travel a lot. My friends sitting in the back were making the most of it—mostly eating but the table also enabled us to send out some crucial emails from the laptop while on the go.
The highway roads leading up to the Mehrangarh Fort are mostly relatively untenanted so I engaged the cruise control feature. Photo by: Nila Newsom/Shutterstock
We went up the fort, sat ourselves at the edge of the walls and kept staring into the vastness that spread ahead of us—it was a sight to behold. It was also a moment of tranquility and introspection—moment that we wished never got over.
We decided to stay in Jodhpur that night and got ourselves reservations in the brilliant Umaid Bhavan Palace. We were served fine food and we washed it down with a delectable suggestion of a vintage wine by the chief server at the restaurant.
The eyes were droopy, the mood was mellow and there were soft hints of local music playing somewhere far in the background as we sat in the open and chatted about random things in life. The next thing I remember is that we woke up and had a four-hour drive back to Udaipur!
The week went by in such a flash that it seemed like we had settled ourselves in Udaipur just yesterday! It was our last evening in this slow, quaint city. We sat by the parapet and did something that made us erupt in loud laughter later on—we sang! We were a band back in college and a pretty good one at that.
The setting was perfect—the parapet, the tender mood afforded by the moonlit sky, enveloped by water all around, we started humming tunes from our days of past. I don’t remember how long we went on for. One by one, we started retiring to our rooms as the effect of spirits got heady. I was the only one after a while—still humming in the softest possible way; almost as if I was shy! But, after an endless gaze into the sky, I bid good-night to this magnificent setting one final time with a promise to return. Soon.
We left the next afternoon. Towards the late evening, everyone was fast asleep in their ever-comfortable seats, and I had our beloved songs for company. It was as if the Innova Touring Sport had become an intimate partner by now. As the Sun was signing off for the day, the LED projector headlamps came on automatically—lending a beam bright enough to make the night our friendly companion. An endless smile formed on my face. We got back in the middle of the night, I dropped everyone back at their respective homes and had a peaceful drive back home and retired with a smile on my face. It couldn’t have been better!
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