Trip to Agra – Day 3 (7/2/’14 – Banquet Lights)

Day three would be the most uneventful of all the days in Agra (that would be only taking into account the day). Morning welcomed us with toasted bread and omelettes with tea (our usual favourites here). We were at the conference by 10 AM. Thought I’d make a difference today, and headed straight to Hall A where the cataract session was going on, where I learnt a few new techniques including the multiple – hole sculpting in dark cataracts to get rid of the central hard core, Sanju wanted to go shopping, and so, she joined Mom and both of them made their cunning escape. Now arose a new problem – the hall was so full, I had to stand for more than an hour before I could actually find a seat. After attending sessions till 11:30, I headed out and met up with some old pals – Vivek, Sankar and Ashok from Aravind Eye Care and Samarth Agarwal who had passed out of Joseph Eye Hospital.

After attending one more session, it was time for lunch. I found Drs. Tanuja Britto and Antony, and headed toward the buffet – area. It was great to meet up with Dr. Sujatha and a few other medical officers from Joseph Eye Hospital during the break. The pile – up of rotis failed to impress us. We stuck to salads, then moved straight to the non – veg section and helped ourselves to mutton, following which came huge samples of dessert. Antony (alias ‘Ants’) and I took a picture after what seemed many decades.

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I felt exhausted after the long exposure to a situation such as standing still at the conference (I’d rather run a marathon instead), and so I headed back to my room, where I wrote my previous blogs for ‘Day 1’ and ‘Day 2’. Sanju and Mom joined me at my hotel at 6 PM, We found the venue for the infamous banquet dinner to be ‘Saloni Farm’. Unfortunately and unpredictably, there were no shuttles that covered our area for the venue. After finding a taxi, we rushed to the venue. The traffic was incredible and I feel Agra must have experienced such a traffic block for the first time, as ophthalmologists from all over India made their way to the venue either by auto rickshaw, their own vehicles or by taxis. We reached there by 8:30 PM, instructing the driver to wait till 11:30 PM, for which he happily agreed when we met terms with him regarding his Rs. 800 pay.

Once we made our way in, provided the coupons, and entered the huge area, this is what we saw:

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Mom wanted to meet up with her friends, and two hours was spent searching for them, while helping ourselves to snacks being readily provided by waiters who were passing by. Trance music & the sound of bass filled the air, and I found my head automatically nodding to the beat. Phones were out of the scenario, as reception and tower level were ridiculously low. We continued to have a light dinner and huge dessert while still searching for them. I finally found one of Mom’s friends, and the rest of them soon came by for a happy reunion.

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We decided it was time to leave at 11 PM and headed out, while calling up the taxi driver. Unfortunately there was a not – so – miniscule pile – up of traffic, and it took 20 minutes just to find the car some distance away in the opposite direction and another 40 minutes getting to the venue in the taxi while passing perilously close to vehicles and their drivers who were resorting to driving bumper – to – bumper. Yet another 25 minutes getting back to our hotel, after dropping off mom and her friends at theirs’.

So that was yesterday, and wow, was that fulfilling as well as tiring. More tomorrow! 

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