Description of our Trip to Lonavala on Sept 30th, '01 Weekend
So, we are back from a short yet highly eventful Lonavala trip. Here is my travelogue for the trip:
Niru, Pauli and myself decided to board the Pune bus from Dadar TT and make our respective local trains station as the meeting spots. I met Niraj bhai at Mulund around 2 PM and later we all got together when Pauli arrived at Kanjurmarg around 2:15 PM. This was the first time I was traveling in Mumbai local train after a long long time, it was no different than traveling in NY subway with a broken AC.
After some enthusiastic discussion and catching up on our last few days we got down at Dadar. Earlier Manish has notified me that him and Sameer will be reaching Lonavala around 6PM so we were in no apparent hurry to reach there. This fact compounded by the unusually humid day encouraged us to indulge upon the "famous" Dadar Super King Samrat "Lassi". We had some Lassi and Niru wondered about the kind of money the small Lassi shop owner must be making after looking at the nonstop flow of customers. Pauli and I agreed that he must be making a bundle.
After coming out of the shop I looked around to have a good look at the Dadar buildings and haphazard co-existence of uncountable people and vehicles in the same space. It was amazing that it has been like this for years and made me wonder who manages this from getting chaotic. And then I heard Niru saying that he wants to pray at the Hanuman temple near by. I accompanied him and realized what makes everything flow so smoothly which apparently looks so chaotic. Over the years, in the western world we tend to get very chauvinistic regarding our control over life and life forms, the apparent enforced sense of security...
Pauli and I realized that we don't have any shorts which might be needed if we later decided to play in waters. After a little bargaining by Niru we got the tickets for the Lonavala AC bus which was a relief not having to sit in nonAC bus on a hot afternoon. Bus was leaving in 15 minutes so we quickly shopped for the shorts from the road side vender and got on the bus. As mention on the ticket, the Bus left exactly at 3:30PM, we were impressed by it's punctuality, something we don't take for granted here.
The traffic situation has hugely improved after several the flyovers mushrooming all around the city (later I took some more trips in car and confirmed this). This also might be due to that fact that I was used to get stuck in the traffic going back up to couple of miles so I feel its needless to get impatient to wait in traffic for few minutes.
Journey to Lonavala took about three hours, a little more than expected due to longer halts and slow driving of the bus. Niru made us notice that the bus stopped right in front of a wine shop, may be the driver knew our "intentions" well!! Niru called Sameer on his cell phone to tell him about our arrival and asked to meet us at the neighborhood restaurant "Rama Krishna" while we had some refreshments there. While we were busy having some food there, I noticed from corner of my eyes some figures pass by and coming back to us and yelling our names... they were none other but Sameer and Manish, they had almost missed us eating outside. Can't blame anyone, some of us were meeting after 8 yrs!!! After the usual discussion of changes in our physical appearances, we proceeded to talk about the recent terrorists attacks and it's affect on economy and job market.
To give our plans the final shape we had to decide where we would be staying for the night, Sameer suggested the Karla resort by MTDC. I had heard some nice things about it and since Sameer had brought his car along we had no problem in driving down about 7 miles and check out the place. The cottages at Karla were located at a comfortable quiet surrounding and we immediately decided to take the double bedroom cottage after one look. After getting settled and a quick shower we immediately ordered drinks from the bar on the resort and then our "mehfil" had officially started. Sameer, Pauli and Niru started with RC and myself with Manish had Kingfisher. I "tried" to take some pictures with my "Advanced Picture System" camera and it died out on me... Before I lost track, we were discussing about the business opportunities and how we can get together use our respective "skills" to that. Sameer gave some business ideas and we brainstormed to that until there was no brain left to storm- the deadly magic of alcohol. Oh yes, our discussions were continuously interrupted by a schoolgirl (her age was disputed among us) passing by our window from time to time, she belonged to the family staying next door.
Then we had to order some food since the restaurant was closing at 10PM, so we got some food and kept it inside to eat later. Switching our discussion to women and who had whom, how and where we proceeded to our JNEC days and whereabouts of some long lost friends. Then I got hungry and Manish supported me, also we were on our third bottle of beer. We both ate most of the food, leaving half plate of rice and some gravy for Sameer (who didn't want to eat), Pauli and Niru. Niru forced even some more rice of Manish's plate! Around 1AM, our dinner was over after Pauli and Niru ate the left over and then we decided to go for a walk. Niru, Manish and myself went ahead and soon Niru found the two dogs outside and made them his pets. Within minutes and few steps later they became best buddies!!! The walk was laborious since I and Niru were barefooted and pebbles on street were causing pain. The newfound pals of Niru were following him religiously, except for some occasional straying along the way, but Niru's commanding voice (it was 2AM) brought them back to him. Later, Pauli and Sameer joined us and we went for another round of the resort with Niru's pets following. I smelled some problem when these two men's best friends were joined by their 4-5 other roaring bigger friends. Fortunately the situation got quickly under control and we were home safely. Niru duly rewarded his pets with the left over bones from our food which they relished upon!!
We were then back to our rooms and watching TV, talking about the new actresses and then Niru thought about his new homemade shayari which he had recited to me few days back, it had some of his very intimate feelings... but call it the after effect of alcohol that he could not recollect it. After few minutes we lost interest and asked him to think about it next morning. But Niru was relentless, he sat in the hall with both hands on his head trying to figure out his shayari. It did come back to him but by then I was in bed and so was everyone else, we had to come out and Niru recited his shayari in his trademark style and I must say, it was well worth all the efforts. (I request him to share it with everyone in his next mail)
After a good night sleep, we got fresh and checked out from resort in time. The plan for the day was to visit the Bushy Dam and Lion's point. We had some breakfast at the same "Rama Krishna" restaurant and rented a camera for the day. After reaching Bushy Dam we were disappointed since the water falls had dried up on the mountains. But after being pushed by Pauli we decided to hike up, we found a small stream (can't call it a fall) and some locals enjoying the bath under it. After they left Pauli went in with all of his clothes on, he seemed to be enjoying it a lot, I decided to check it out and found that the small stream wasn't all that small after all, it was fun!!! Later Manish and Sameer too joined us and we kept insisting Niru to join but our proposal didn't interest him a bit, he stayed out and kept taking our pictures. We were in the fall for some time before it got crowded by some school kids. We dried up in Sun and went down to change near our car. After quick Wadapav session we headed for the Lion's Point. It was a steep drive along the ghat and we enjoyed the view, Sameer had tough time driving car.
The Lion's point had a nice view, but the weather was not that pleasant in the afternoon scorching sun. After looking around at a movie set at the point and having some beer the weather turned nice and we stayed for some more time. But we all were very tired and decided to head back since the weekend was almost over. We did our accounts and got the tickets for the bus back to Mumbai and departed from Lonavala with promise to our Puneyites to meet soon, may be when Hitesh is here. The trip back home was uneventful except for occasional gravity defying jumps on the last seat of the bus. It all made sense when we touched Chembur in couple of hours, this driver was fast. Niru and Pauli wanted to utilize the time saved in bus journey and have a quick session of drinks. We struggled around in Chembur to find a good bar but failed. Then we took auto to Kanjurmarg (Pauli's area) and Niru with Pauli had drinks while I ate. After some more career and life discussion, it was time to part. We said goodbye to Pauli and then Niru got off the auto at Mulund. I was back home with some chikkis and lot of new memories and old ones refreshed.
Check out this space for pics of the trip...