Road trip to Meerut
Mickey decided that a visit to his home town was in order. So I packed a few bits and pieces and stuck them in the car and off we went. Meerut is approached from Satya Dhaam Farm on the main roads either by Garhmukteshwar or Hapur, but Mickey chooses to go cross country. We followed a canal which I understand is fed by the Ganges, along whose sides are acres of mango orchards and monkeys who aren’t keen on being photographed. I saw my first snake, from a distance, no chance of photographing it as it crossed the road, but well over a metre in length.
After about an hour and a half driving we reached Meerut. Meerut is a city of about 1.3 million people. It is also a garrison town and the home to many regiments. The air is way cleaner than the air of Delhi but the noise is on par. That said, it does quieten down at night, unlike Delhi.
Janmashtami in Meerut
I happened to be there during Janmashtami and independence day, so Meerut was ramping up for the festivities. The streets were being lined with stalls, bouncy castles and much the same panoply as in Europe, but from twenty years ago. The only difference was the use of LEDs everywhere. Janmashtami is the birth celebration of Krishna, so that would make it similar to Christmas for us in the west.
Mickey and I went out for a beer in the evening. We picked up a friend of his called Pepe, a nice guy with a good command of english. The government alcohol shops are open at the front but heavily barred. You shout your order through the grill and the booze is passed out. Two beers and a small bottle of rum for us. Mickey opted for an import, I wanted to try a local beer so I had Kingfisher. It seems that beer in India is absurdly strong. This was a 750ml bottle at 8% by volume. Twice as strong as Guinness. I had one bottle and a 500ml can and was rewarded with serious motor-coordination problems.
It also seems that you either stand by the side of the road and drink, or you drive and drink? We did the latter. We went up to the Meerut army cantonment. This area covers a huge area, no photos, and, from what i could understand, is the biggest garrison town in India. It was a neatly kept area with captured Pakistani tanks and the likes on display.
The next day Mickey was hungover 🙂 I was ok 😀 it was also Janmashtami so there was music in the streets and final preparations being made. Mickey and I popped out in the evening to have a look and take some photos. We also ate a potato snack, I’ve no idea what it was called, that was delicious. We decided not to stop out late as he had planned to take his sons to the Independence day festivities the next day. During the day I took the opportunity of sending photos to the web and trying to catch up a bit with the blog. It’s so frustrating not having the speeds to upload anything but text.
Independence day evening we headed off up the road with Mickey’s boys to the street fair. It was already getting dark and taking photos was becoming difficult with available light (I hate flash photography). So I used the video camera set on “low light” and filmed a lot. Again it’s difficult sending this stuff to the net with no speeds but I finally managed and you can see it here. All over there are little displays and shrines to Krishna depicting his birth and points in his life. They are very similar to the Christian nativity scene or crib figures that are displayed at Christmas. This is a photo of a little display on the side of the road, made by an individual that lives in the room behind the display.
I did manage to video two dances. One for a Shiva and one for Krishna. I’ve no idea what the lyrics of the songs say but I presume that they tell a story. These two dances seemed to be put on by school kids. The rest of the video is really street scenes and the colours of the LEDs strung over the road.
Meerut is a nice city, I like it as much as I disliked Delhi.