Traveling to Katie’s Abode, Hartola in the time of Coronavirus (unlock 3.0 period)

Our household goods have reached their destination on August 18 and we were getting impatient to go. I must have called endless people to know what their experience of traveling during Unlock 3.0 was. Some said you required a RT-PCR report saying you were COVID-19 negative, others said you didn’t require the report.

But we were not taking any chances. A doctor friend helped me in getting in touch with an ICMR approved lab which would collect our swab samples from home. Since the spouse had an important webinar in the afternoon of the 19th, we decided to drive down to Uttarakhand through the night so that we could reach Hartola before the mahurat fixed by the panditji (for 10 am) on the 20th for the griha pravesh puja. My contractor had been very helpful in finding a local panditji for the puja.

On the morning of the 18th, our swabs were collected and then begun the wait for the results so that we could apply for the e-passes, which required us to attach the reports. By the way, giving the nasal swab was the most irritating one, not painful, but very uncomfortable for sure.

We got our COVID-19 results (negative of course) in the early morning of Wednesday and I promptly applied for the e-pass. I kept the soft copies of our Aadhaar cards and reports handy because one needs to attach them along with the application. One major task done!

By 9, it began pouring heavily, but we had to get all the items for the puja the next day. Thankfully, found a puja samagri shop nearby and the shopkeeper knew what was required for  a griha pravesh puja.

Next, was to give a quick look at the health of the car. Oil and air filters were changed, coolant, gear, engine oil changed and wiper blades too. Now,  tire pressure check and filling the tank; all done and dusted.

At 8.30 pm, we were out on the highway. The drive was smooth till we took the road from the Moradabad highway towards Tanda-Bazpur. Because of the rains the road was full of potholes (I think craters would actually be the right word).

Then the first check was at the Uttar Pradesh-Uttarakhand border near Bazpur. Here, you have to give the details of where you are coming from and where you were going, e-pass number, addresses and details of the people traveling along with you. The same happens multiple times till you reach Kathgodam, from where the mountains start. It was about 2.30 in the morning.

We were told by the personnel manning the check post that we would have to get a slip from the COVID-19 center at the Indira Gandhi International Cricket Stadium (the locals also call it the Golapar stadium). The stadium is divided based on the zones travelers were coming from. Since Noida was in the green zone, we were directed to go to a particular counter. The team of doctors stationed here takes a look at the report, still scans your body temperature and after you answer a volley of questions hands over a slip saying that you are coronavirus negative. The car number and the number of persons in the car are also mentioned in the slip. Once you have this slip, it’s a smooth ride. There were another couple of checks till Malla Ramgarh, but no hassles.

We reached Hartola at about 6.30 am. Surprisingly, although we had travelled the entire night, we were not at all sleepy or tired. Instead, there was a strange energy that would see us through the day. It was an exhilarating feeling to think that we would be staying beneath the roof of the home which we had so lovingly and painstakingly made.

About the griha pravesh puja and our experience of staying in our home in the mountains the first day, in the next post. Till then, stay safe and hope to see you in October.

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