KAPOORS ON THE ROAD
We wanted to have a night on our own before we invaded Bharat Kumar’s home, so we looked in the Lonely Planet for some ideas. We thought we might head on the interstate to Annapolis and spend the night there, when I came across an entry for Cape May, a small community at the southernmost tip of New Jersey. It is also the country’s oldest seashore resort. When I read that this small town was home to over six hundred restored gingerbread-style homes, it sounded like a must-see. We arrived just as the sun was setting, the only place in the state where the it both rises and sets over water, and it looked like the whole place was locked up for the season.
There were lights on in homes along the seaside and on the side streets, but there wasn’t a soul to be seen walking, and there was virtually no traffic. I looked for a gas station or a convenience store to ask someone to suggest a hotel, but there weren’t any to be found either. The large Victorian houses loomed everywhere, but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out where all the residents bought their groceries, got their dry cleaning done or did their banking. It looked like a vast movie set with lights on but no one at home.
We finally stopped at the Montreal Motel, one of several facing the sea. I don’t know if the fact it had a ‘Canadian’ name influenced us, but the woman at the reception desk was very friendly and we took a room for the night. She explained that most of the commercial businesses were located outside the historic district in order to preserve the ambience of the town. In the summer months, tourists flock from all over and the place thrives, but during the cold months, there is only a small contingent of permanent residents.
I didn’t really mind the quiet of the off-season after the hectic pace of New York. We turned in early and slept well. The next morning we hurried to the ferry terminal in order to catch the 9:30 am sailing, only to find the tickets were sold out and we would have to wait till 11:00 for the next trip. Where did all those vehicles and people come from – we hadn’t seen a soul the night before? We didn’t like the thought of sitting still for so long so we left for the highway, but I made Anil detour so that I could photograph some of the old homes and the marina. By the time we were done, we had killed a good hour, so we sped back to the terminal and managed to get a ticket for the next sailing. What a mistake, I should have taken the hint that we weren’t meant to ride that ferry across Delaware Bay.
As soon as we got out into the open water, the ferry started to pitch and roll and so did my poor stomach. I quickly put my trusty ‘travel bands’ on my wrists in an effort to ward off motion sickness, but they weren’t as effective as I had hoped. This was the first time they had really been put to the test. They have been a godsend on smoother waters and on winding roads, but they didn’t save me from the tossing Atlantic waves. I wasn’t the only sufferer. One man was sitting at a table with his wife, his hand in hers and his face flat on the tabletop. He stayed like that for the entire one and a half hour crossing.
I struck up a conversation with an African American man sitting at a table next to ours. He was looking pretty green in spite of his darker complexion. He told me that his wife had planned a surprise for him for his birthday and he didn’t realize what it was until they arrived at the ferry terminal. He has lived in Atlantic City all his life and is an avid fisherman, but has steadfastly refused to board a boat. He was in agony, telling me that the nausea reminded him terribly of his days on chemotherapy during his successful battle with cancer. I didn’t really feel like talking much, but felt I was helping him keep his mind off our shared suffering. The travel bands did help me keep down my breakfast and for that I was very thankful.
At last we spotted the two distinctive lighthouses at the entrance to the harbour and I was thrilled to get on solid land once again. We had a quick peek at the village of Lewes and then set off cross-country towards the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Annapolis. I was so thankful that the peninsula that comprises the part of Delaware and Maryland was flat as a pancake; I had had enough of ups and downs for one day already.