“I look at the world and see no understanding, I’m waiting to find some sense of strength, I’m begging you from the bottom of my heart to show me understanding.”
– Learning to live, Dream Theatre
Almost four and half years in IT and this is exactly how I feel. If anyone would ask me to describe my personality today, I would say its Holden Caulfield ( character from the book The Catcher in the Rye). And yes no exaggeration there.STRUGGLING to find my identity in this mediocre and ordinary IT sector …… CRAVING to be myself PEACEFULLY…… Searching for a sense of belonging amongst the diplomatic cowards…..TRYING to breathe in this overly judgemental and opinionated world….. The pathetic life of a software engineer was getting on my nerves …. Sounds like I am frustrated…. Cynically Frustrated!! Well I just needed a break maybe… the long awaited break.
12th May 2010…
Both, Mom and I, had a long day at work and no one was in a mood to do any household chores in the evening. So we went out for dinner. We went to “Khavaiyya”, a Maharashtrian restaurant in Thane. While returning from dinner, we had to walk down few feet for the auto. But couldn’t find one. We almost reached the Gajanan Maharaj Mandir on Ram Maruti road. So casually asked Mom to go there as we were almost there. We Met Aajoba (that’s Grandfather in Marathi) there. To describe him, well words wouldn’t be enough to portray him completely. In the context of this blog, I would say he organizes trips for the people of all age groups right from the kids to the senior citizens. He casually asked if I was interested in the Dapoli trip. I impulsively replied yes. Very rare of me to make such quick decisions. Little did I know then how much positive difference this trip would be bringing about in me. This is how I got myself set for the Dapoli trip. Absolutely unplanned and totally impulsive. Whenever I have been intuitively provoked to make such impulsive decisions, my past experience has told me that it would leave some or the other meaningful and positive impact on my life. Well, of course I didn’t think about all this when I made that decision. It was only after I returned from the trip, and was adoring my cup of tea, sitting in the window and introspecting about the whole experience, did I realize how impactful and satisfying this trip had been.
Next day, that’s 13th May 2010, my mom called my paternal Aunt; I guess it was just a weekly call among the ladies. Co-incidentally Aunt mentioned that my cousin sister, Neha was longing for an outing. When spoken about the Dapoli trip, even she showed keen interest in accompanying me to the trip. Got her booked for the trip as well. Yippee!!!
Yeah, I know it’s a too long and boringly-detailed explanation that I have given to describe how I booked myself for the trip. But you will eventually get used to me. Now I realize why I never scored marks for “answer in one sentence type” questions in school 😛
20, May, 2010, Thursday…
Reached office by 8.30 am (as usual). Was excited since morning as today was the day when we would be starting our journey for Dapoli (felt like it was a Friday). But that was going to be late evening. So it was a loooong loooong day in office. I was excited none the less. Actually I am never excited… I am always super excited…
Bugs………….Status meetings……………… Conf-calls………… Finally it was 5.30. Couldn’t wait to reach home as Neha would be coming. Called Neha from the office bus to check if she had left from Borivli (that’s where she stays). She was on her way….. Yay!!
Listened to music for sometime… “November Rain”…….”Losing my Religion”…..”One Rainy Wish” ……. Again called Neha to confirm if she had carried her digi cam….Music again…..”Roadhouse blues”…..”The Unforgiven”…… Again called Neha and asked where she had reached…. I always get restless when I am super excited and all. I am sure she must have got irritated by now 😀
Finally reached home… I was kind of relaxed since most of my packing was done a day before itself… I hate last minute tensions… I was having my cup of tea when the door bell rang…. Yippee!!!… Neha arrived finally!!
We did our regular time pass together….. Trying to fit into each others’ clothes. Me asking her umpteen times if I have become fatter than the last time she saw me (lasttime was a week back 🙂 ) …. She raising her eye brows on this….. 😀
Had our dinner by 9 pm and then did some last minute packing… Reached at Aajoba’s place by 10.45 pm. Yay!! ….Since I had been on trips with Aajoba before, I was comparatively relaxed in terms of what I should be expecting from the trip. Neha seemed to be a bit anxious and curious though. Aajoba gave sherbet to the entire gang. The trip had people from all age groups. The tiny-tots, the college going “kids”, the Uncles and the Aunties, and of course the Grannys and Grandpas as well. This was the specialty of Aajoba’s trip. People from all age groups mingle very well and enjoy thoroughly. TRUST ME when I say this. Most of the Grannys and the Grandpas that I have come across through Aajoba’s trips, were all young at heart and had amazing sense of humility and humbleness. All were inspirational and motivational in many ways. They can make this young generation gel with them without any inhibitions and even the young ones love to be with them. And not just because they pamper you. Also because they, consciously or sub-consciously, tend to empathize with you.
Anyways, coming back to the trip. Aajoba was busy making arrangements in the bus – Checking the mike system and the audio and video, planning the seating arrangement (keeping in mind the age factor), placing the luggage in the rack and hell lot of stuff. The crowd was waiting to get into the bus. It was fun to watch the expression on everyone’s face. Some were happy to get a break from the hustle and bustle of this city life. The college kids seemed excited. Some of the Aunties were wondering if they would get a seat in front or beside the window. Some of the little kids (I mean I refer to college students as big kids 🙂 ) had already slept in their mother’s arms whereas some were in their usual masti mood. My cousin Neha was stunned to find out that 75 year old Granny was also coming to this trip. She was wondering how she was going to even climb into the bus. My Mom told her to just wait and watch how easily she pops in.
We got second last seat in the bus. Our bus was 3-seater by 2-seater. Neha and I were given place on the 3-seater. We were wondering who was going to be the third person along with us for the bus journey. We were waiting for the bus to start. It was damn hot. The summers in Mumbai as you all know.
Sometime later, a skinny damsel came and sat on the 3rd seat beside us. She was so skinny that we thought she would probably be in school. We were surprised to find out later that she was in her last year of graduation.
Most of the people did not know each other; but still there was a warm welcoming smile on their face. On the seat behind us, there was a little boy named Aashay, with his grandfather. Very quiet and seemed like a good boy. At least that’s what I thought at that moment 😛 Later on you can find out if he proved us right or wrong.
Neha and I could comfortably strike a conversation with Nivedita. I am referring to the skinny girl I was talking about. I wish I was a thin gourd like her. But food is my first love you see. So no use dreaming.
The bus started at around 11.15pm. Aajoba was giving an overview of the program for 3 days. The subtle breeze coming through the window, felt cool on my sweat. I was dead tired. My eyes were drooping. Aajoba’s words soon started fading in the background and I was sound asleep. Our first halt was after 1.5 hrs at Raigad. All were in the middle of their sleep but still they felt the urge to get down from the bus and stretch. We had tea and cold drinks at a nearby restaurant. This is where we had our first interaction with Aashay. Well, Aashya is a kid……or I must say a brat from 7th standard. While chattering, we came to know that he stays right behind my apartment. He had come to this trip with his grandparents. All referred to his grandfather as Anna and his grandmother as Anni. More to come about this duo as we go ahead.
Within 15 minutes we were back into the bus. As the wheels started rolling, my playlist began to progress. The velvety night-sky, the caressing breeze, the rock music …… I was enjoying my time in the cozy little cocoon while others went off to sleep. I was enjoying rock music like never before. “One Rainy Wish”……… “November Rain” …………… “The Unforgiven” …………… “Pull me under” ………………… Ohhh I was almost in a trance…… In a short while I slept peacefully, despite the bumpy bus journey. We had one more halt at Khed before we reached Dapoli.
Day 1 – 21st May, 2010 – Friday
We reached Dapoli at around 6 am. We were lodging at Aryavarta Resort. The resort had around 25 bungalows set on a hill top. When our bus came to a screeching halt in the premises of the resort, we were in the middle of our sleep and felt bored to get down from the bus. But once we popped out of the bus, we were all fresh and excited again. All were waiting to get their luggage. Aajoba was allocating bungalows to all.
Most of the bungalows comprised of a living room and two bedrooms in the basement. So three families were set to lodge in a bungalow. There were 3 lanes into which the bungalows were divided – Phanas Marg (Jackfruit Lane), Amba Marg(Mango Lane) and Jambul Marg.
Our bungalow was in the Phanas Marg. It was named “Yashwant”. We were excited to explore it. The bungalows had a nice garden surrounding it. With the green belt surrounding the whole complex, it felt cool and cozy. Our room was in the basement. A spiral staircase led us down to our room. There was a side door attached to it which opened to a nice mini garden.
Neha and I quickly started making plans of having photography sessions here. The rooms were clean and tidy and spacious. Luckily our room had good ventilation with 3 windows.
To the room beside us, Uncle and Aunt were lodging (I am extremely bad at names… you gotto excuse me for that). They were from our trip itself. Very jolly. They immediately became friendly to us as if we were their nieces or something like that. The room above us, which was the living room, was occupied by a Granny along with her daughter and two grand-daughters. The two young ladies were Ketaki and Priya. They seemed slightly introvert but wore a warm smile none the less. The Granny was very talkative though. She inquired whether we had tea and all.
Neha had been to Dapoli before and was aware how spic and span these bungalows were. She had raved about the cleanliness while in the bus. So I was very happy and relieved and carefree since I tend to get cynically scared and crib a lot about insects and moths. I wanted to freshen up so I went to the loo. Ahhhhh!! There was this tiny little…fragile looking…..slithery… black …… can you guess…. A SNAKE. This was the last thing I would imagine after all that gushing about the cleanliness that I got from Neha. I swiftly came out of the loo and rushed into the room to tell Neha. She was equally shocked to know this.
She went and had a look at it by herself so as to believe it with her own eyes. We were both laughing and were scared as well. But I guess we were more amused than scared. Neha got her digi cam and took a snap of the snake. My ohh my… how elegantly and cylindrically it had entangled itself around the mug…as if it was modeling or something ……. and absolutely unaware of how uncomfortable it was making us. Neha and I thought of informing this to someone. There was no way we were going to enter that loo with that black beauty inside.
We went in search of Sharad kaka. ( Just like Aajoba, words would be less to describe him as well. But in short, he can be considered the right hand of Aajoba, who accompanies him in every trip, and selflessly and enthusiastically and from the bottom of the heart takes responsibility of the trip attendees.) He was nowhere in sight. We thought of going into the Amba Marg. Luckily we spotted him walking with Aashay. We yelled his name so that they would stop. He had no clue why we were after him. He probably thought we were out for a walk and just explore the resort. When he neared us, we told him about the snake. He was shocked as hell. He came to our bungalow and checked the loo. And tell you what….. This little creature was is a mood of playing hide and seek. When Sharad kaka scanned the whole cube, there was no sign of this Mr. Snake. Even the Uncle in the room beside us thought that we were bluffing and were unnecessarily scared. We even showed them the pic that Neha had captured. But still it was hard for them to believe. For some time I thought whether our faces suggest that we are brats. Well the reason why it was hard for them to believe was because apparently there was no inlet or outlet through which any reptile would enter. Even the window was firmly sealed with a net. Neha and I guessed that probably it had paved its way through the drainage outlet and thought it was a water snake and probably was currently hiding into the drainage itself. After Sharad kaka left, we again scanned the loo carefully and then went in. Neha could go only after I went first (and came out safely :D), when she was convinced that the snake had finally gone. We freshened up and headed for the breakfast. A steaming cup of tea was what I needed the most after all this hullabaloo. Well this was THE HIGHLIGHT of the morning.
By the time we got ready and reached for breakfast, it was 8 am I guess. The common dining hall of the resort was also set amidst the nature. It was right in front of our bungalow. So we didn’t require to do much of walking. The breakfast was not ready yet. So I asked Neha to get her digi cam for some photography.
At one corner there was a small artificial pond with ducks and turkeys swimming and squatting and having a good time. Small bushes and wooden artifacts beautified the mini-pond.On the other side of the dining hall was a small garden into which rabbits, guinea pigs and chicks were caged. We did a photo session with them as well. Neha is into this animation thing and does a lot of sketching. So when she saw these cute little rabbits. She ran to our room and grabbed her sketching pad to get the rabbits onto the paper. There were many swings wired along the tree barks. We had fun with it as well and also captured some clicks.
It was over the breakfast that we met Aashay again. It was then that we came to know what a brat he was. Full on masti. Anna, his grandfather calls him “atireki” (that’s terrorist in Marathi). He gelled very well with us. We felt as if we just found a little brat kiddo brother. Non-stop talking. We would get tired of hearing, but he would not get tired of speaking. His grandfather said that he would be our responsibility for the next 3 days and that we should give him tuition to make him like a common man.
Yay!!! Breakfast was ready. It was a buffet system. There was Poha and Mango sheera. I had poha since I do not adore sweet much. We did some chattering while eating. After the breakfast we did some photography around the natural beauty of the resort. It was fun. Aashay – The Don was in full form. The snaps itself says it all.
We played name-place-animal-thing with him. I was reminded of the school days. When the letter “S” had its turn, Aashay spontaneously used “Sanika” as the name. Neha and I started teasing him and pulling his leg and told him to spill the beans as to who this Sanika was. After some pestering, he confessed that she was in his class and the only reason he had used his name in this game was because she completes her Hindi books. 😀 😀 The guys of this generation are so forward in the young age itself.
We did some chit-chatting with Anna and Anni. They are Aashay’s grandparents. The most enthusiastic among the lot. Anni was 75 years old and Anna must be around 79 years. But both were young at heart. Very proudly and excitingly they spoke about their family. They even praised their daughter in law willingly. We came to know that Anna was a classical singer with South Indian base. Anni told us how Aashay does masti at home and bullies her 😀 . Also that she likes the Maggie noodles made by Aashay’s elder brother. It was around 10 am by now. Anna and Anni went on their room for a small nap. Aashay stayed back with us.
Neha met one of her family friends. She sat with them over the breakfast table to have a chat with them. I met the Nadkarni family in the meanwhile. The Uncle and Aunt were very friendly to me in the first meeting itself. Their daughter Mohini was also very warm-hearted and simple. We could easily strike a conversation and didn’t even realize how 30 minutes passed by. By 10.30 am all of us headed towards our rooms to take a small nap as everyone were tired of the bus journey throughout the night. I slept as if I was half dead…… as usual I mean. We woke up at 12.30 pm. Lunch was awaiting us. Post lunch we had the plan for visiting the “Kadyavarcha Ganpati Temple” at Anjarle.
All gathered near the dining area by 1 pm. We had a nice yummy Punjabi meal. We climbed into the bus for our journey to Anjarle. It is located at about 20 km from Dapoli and would require about an hour to reach. The scenic beauty of the foamy white beaches on one side and the green belt of coconut and betel nut trees on the other side were a treat to the eye. Felt like capturing each and every angle.
At Harnai, we could see the Suvarnadurga fort which comprises of two forts – Kanakdurga, which is the land fort and Suvarnadurga, which is the sea fort. It is believed that earlier there was a tunnel connecting the two forts. But now, the only way to get to the fort was through a boat. It was practically impossible for Aajoba to take a group of 50 people (comprising of people from varied age groups) by a boat. So we had a sight of it from a distance. But that also was fascinating.
In the bus, Neha, Aashay and I were sitting together. After enjoying the scenic beauty, we played some crappy game called “Manganese” suggested by Aashay, which was kind of similar to that Name-Place-Animal-Thing game. It was fun though to refresh childhood memories.
The roads were now getting narrower with the increase in altitude. We were stuck for around 15 min when an ST bus and our bus were not able to cross each other because of the narrow roads. We had to take our bus reverse so as to make it possible for the ST to cross by. After around 15-20 min, we managed to solve the problem and then again headed forward to our destination that was Anjarle.
We approached the Jog river i.e the Anjarle creek to be more precise. In the bus, Aajoba gave us some information related to the temple. Earlier, people needed to cross this creek in a boat and then climb the hill steps to reach the Anjarle village. But recently a bridge has been constructed and one can take the bus right up to the temple entrance.
The idol of this Ganpati is right-trunked as opposed to most of the Ganesha idols which are left-trunked. The idol is also said to be a live deity, who responds to the pleas of its devotees 🙂 The Ganpati temple had a beauty defined by simplicity. The temple was capped by two domes – one was wide and round whereas the other one was cylindrical and comparatively tall. The carvings on the white domes were simple and elegant. Beside the Ganpati temple, is a small temple of Lord Shiva. The tall stone tower in front of the Shiva temple had an amazing symmetry. We did some photography around the temple. When all the people had taken darshan, Aajoba along with his entire gang did bhajan and aarti, beneath the dome. Aashay’s Aajoba, fondly called as Anna, also sang one bhajan. He was a great singer too. Later Aajoba offered avala sherbet to all, which was instantly refreshing in the scorching sun.
We hopped into the bus again and headed towards Murud. We reached there in about 30 min. We first visited the ancient Durga Devi temple. The carvings on the wooden pillars are worth seeing. Right in front of the temple is a statue of Maharshi Dhondo Keshav Karve, who established the first Indian University of women (SNDT). A small lane beside the Durga Devi Temple, paved our way to the Murud beach. Yay!! The beach finally.
Konkan, being the coastal belt of Maharashtra, is famous for its beaches. Hence we were super excited for this beach thing. Before entering into the water, Neha and I did some photography. Later we stepped into the foamy waves which were beckoning us. We both are not very fond of getting totally wet. So we didn’t go deep into the sea (like the others). But we were enjoying none the less. Some kids were making sand castles. It reminded me of my childhood days when my maternal grandparents used to take me to the Dadar beach. I used to make sand castles and never be satisfied with my creation. I always wanted to have a tall castle like the other kids.
I used to pester my grandfather to take me deep(as per definition of 5 year kid ) inside the beach and he used to fondly come with me by taking a promise from me that I won’t leave his hand. I still remember vividly how I used to jump when the waves neared and get both my grandfather and myself wet. But he never complained. I would visit my maternal grandparents during my school vacations and was always excited to meet them. I miss those innocent days. Anyways coming back to Murud. Murud beach was good but was on its verge of commercialization. Hope it does not lose its natural beauty with increase in the number of tourists. There were also camels for a ride along the beach. The guy was charging us Rs 50/- , so we gave up the idea before he took us for a ride. When Neha was clicking photos of the camel, he even asked us to pay for it. But we ran away as good girls. 😛 Later we all had bhel puri at a stall along the shore. It was nearing sun set and Aajoba asked us to hop into the bus, so that we start our way back to the resort before it was dark. When we started with the Dapoli trip, I had expected that the beach trip would be the highlight of the entire trip and considering the amount of fun we had on the beach, that was what I believed at the end of day 1.
On our way back to the resort, we listened to songs for sometime followed by some stories from Aajoba. We reached the resort by around 7.30 pm. Neha and I had some coffee before we headed to our bungalow. We thought of freshening up before we gather for dinner again. Little did we know that our friend would be waiting to welcome us. Guess Who? Yes … the same Mr. Snake, thanks to whom we had a memorable morning and now a memorable evening too. The little creature was swaying in the bathroom and this time our luck was good that the Uncle staying in the next room, was available at that time, so as to convince him that there was actually a snake after all and that we were not faking. The Aunty almost freaked. The uncle immediately ran and caught hold of the room service men to get rid of the snake. They tried to kill the snake. Neha and I were peeping from our room to get a glimpse of that episode. I even tried to freak her out by saying that if they kill the snake will it be like they show in TV serials where the “Ichhadhari Nagin” comes to take revenge in the middle of the night 😛 It was hilarious. Finally we got rid of the snake and we could peacefully freshen up. Then we rested for some time in our room itself and did some chattering and listened to songs from Neha’s i-pod. Since our bungalow was right in front of the dining hall, we could hear the hustle and bustle after some time, by which we concluded that the dinner must have been ready. So we rushed to savor the delicious food. Being a major foodie, I hogged on the Amras of the alphonso mangoes. It was fun to have food with such a huge gang. Aashay was sitting along with us. As usual he had his never-ending tales from his school to tell us. We had to remind him many times to open the mouth for a change to eat than only talking 😛
After dinner, we went for a stroll around the resort and then headed back to our room. We thought that the moment we popped into the bed, we would go half dead. But Neha and I got involved in some crappy chattering followed by listening to songs from her i-pod. We didn’t even realize that the clock had struck 1 am. We slept at around 1. End of Day 1. 🙂
Day 2 – 22nd May, 2010 – Saturday
We had set the alarm of 6 am in the morning. But we use the features provided by the alarm application to its core. So as a habit, I hit the “Snooze” button and enjoyed the warmth of the blanket. But I guess Aajoba knows us too well. He called on the cell phone and woke us up at sharp 6 am 😀 . This time we woke up immediately, and got ready as quickly as possible and went for breakfast. There was Misal Pav and Phanas Dosa for breakfast. Misal Pav was one of my favourites. So I was as happy as a lark.
After the heavy breakfast, we headed for Shri Keshavraj Temple in Asud Baug. Asud is located at about 8km from Dapoli. We reached in about 20 minutes. It was around 9.30 am I guess. Shree Keshavraj temple is located on top of a hill in Asud Baug. It would require a 15-30 min trek to reach there. The lush green trees, the soothing shade of the jungle, the steel ponds, the rocky staircase, the betel nut and mango and jackfruit trees all woven into each other…. would provoke even the lazy bones to hit the road. The natural ambiance was a delight to a photographer. Even we tried our stint at photography. May be it did not capture the whole essence of what we actually experienced, but definitely it would help us revive these wonderful moments down the memory lane.
Aashay’s grandmother, who is fondly called as “Anni”, also came to this trek, despite being 75 years old and having faced an heart attack few years back. It was her sheer will-power and enthusiastic nature, which led her all the way to the top. It was really commendable. It must have been 10.30 am by the time everyone had reached the temple at the top. The middle aged ladies were more than happy to finally reach the temple as the whole trek tested their stamina 🙂 Everyone clapped for Anni when she reached the temple 🙂
A natural spring originates at the hill top , supplying water to the stone carved cow mouth i.e. Gomukh in front of the temple, throughout the year. All were tired and thirsty and quenched their thirst with the natural sweetness of the water pouring from the Gomukh. After washing our feet in the cold water, we took darshan of Lord Keshavraj (Vishnu). As usual, Aajoba and all of us did bhajan. Aashay and Mohini sang a few devotional songs as well. It was then that we realized that Mohini was also a trained singer. She had a sweetly simple voice which was extremely soothing in the serenity of the surroundings. Another big group also reached there after some time. It was a really huge group with a lot of youngsters. Some of the girls from the group also joined us in our bhajans.
It was around 11 am by now. And we headed our way back to the bottom. The return journey was comparatively faster as we did less photography :P. At the bottom of the hill was Dabkewadi where Aajoba again gave sherbet to everyone. Being thirsty, most of us had 2 glasses of the yummy syrup. Then we bought Phansa Poli (that’s Jackfruit Chapatti) and Phansache gare (Jackfruit chips) which is a specialty of Konkan area. We took some extra packets so as to distribute in office and some people in our society. Aajoba asked all of us to climb into the bus. On our way back to the resort, we also went to the Gajanan Maharaj Temple. We reached the resort by around 12 pm. Neha and I thought of resting for some time in our room before we gather again in the dining area for lunch. I was just pondering about this trek which we just had and I realized that this trek was actually the highlight of the entire trip and not the beach trip. I went into deep sleep the moment I was flat on the bed. I couldn’t even understand that Neha was trying to talk to me. I was too happy to be a Sleeping Beauty 😛 We woke up by 1 pm and went for lunch.
After lunch, we relaxed for some time and then headed towards the Chandika Mata Mandir at Dabhol. I guess we started at around 3 pm. We reached the temple in approximately 45 min. It is believed that the idol of Goddess Chandika has been formed naturally on its own (Swayambhu). The temple is underground in a natural cave. To reach for darshan, one has to go through a darkened passage. The idol is made visible by the light coming from sanai (type of oil/ghee lamp). This is the only source of light inside the cave. Otherwise the entire passage is pitch dark. Anna sang his own-composed bhajan at the temple.
Outside the temple there were numerous Shivling sculptures made of stone. We did some photography there and then headed towards our bus. We reached the resort by around 7.15 pm. We took rest for some time in our room. Then we packed our bags so that in the morning we don’t have to spend much time on it. We were supposed to leave for our return journey in the morning. There were a few places which we would be visiting on our way back. But we had planned to leave the resort in the morning itself. After packing the bags, we listened to some songs and then went for dinner. There was Chinese food today. Yay!! Yummy in a Tummy 🙂 Aashay was happy to hog on the strawberry ice-cream. After dinner, we came back to our room and this time we slept early. End of Day 2 🙂
Day 3 – 23rd May, 2010 – Sunday
We woke up at about 6 am. This time also Aajoba woke us up by giving us a ring 😀 Neha asked me to wake her up after I was done with by chores. I woke her up after I was ready and went to get tea for both of us. It was our last day. So we thought of clicking some photos of our room. We gave our luggage before we went for breakfast, so that it can be adjusted into the rack. Felt a bit sad while leaving the room 😦 All were in the dining room for breakfast and were discussing how warm and nice the whole trip had been. No one realized how 2 days had passed. Felt like we had arrived just yesterday. Some of the ladies bought the local alphonso mangoes, which is also a specialty of Konkan area. We had Idli and coffee for breakfast. After breakfast everyone settled into the bus for a day long journey. It must have been around 9am when we started.
Our first halt during the return journey was Asud, where Shri Vyaghreshwar Mandir is located. It is believed that this mandir is Pandavkaleen i.e. it must have been 1000 years old. It required some steps to be climbed before one could reach a temple. Due to a sprained leg, me and an Aunty stayed back while others went ahead. Aunty and me sat under a small bench under a tree and chatted for a while. Sometime later, our driver, fondly called as Khan Chacha, also accompanied us. It was then that I realized how talkative and jolly he was. He spoke about Islam so passionately that one felt like listening to it for hours. He also told us how the religion has been misunderstood.
After about an hour or so, others returned. It must have been 11.30 am by now. From there we went to Joshi Wadi where arrangement was done for our lunch. We had no choice but to have an early lunch since it was difficult to find an appropriate halt on our route ahead. Everyone said they were not hungry and would have light lunch. But tell you what. The typical home-made food served by the people from Joshi Wadi was so delicious that it left most of us finger licking. The steamy modaks with ghee on it was a treat to a foodie like me. I must have surely gained a few kilos by now 🙂
After lunch, we started our journey again. It must have been around 1 pm when we started. This time everyone slept in the bus. We had a halt again at around 3 pm for tea. After the tea break, we played Antakshari in the bus. It was fun since there were quite a few tiny-tots. And they sang without any inhibition. When I was a kid, I was extremely shy and would never have had guts to speak or sing publicly. Even now I hesitate to open my mouth many a times. But new generation kids are way too bold. After the Antakshari session, Aajoba started with the Introduction Session where everyone has to say a few words about them i.e general stuff like where they stay, what they do, where they work, etc. Aajoba deliberately keeps this session during the return journey with the intention that people should mix up on their own initially and once they get familiar and friendly with each other, it would be easy to remember them when they introduce themselves. It must have been around 6 pm by the time the Introduction Session ended. After that we exchanged contact numbers with the friends we made during the trip. It was nice to have new friends like Mohini, Nivedita, Pratik and of course Aashay-The Don. We would miss everyone, especially Anna-Anni. But since Anna-Anni stay right behind my place, it would be easy to be in touch with them.
We reached Thane (i.e at the Gajanan Maharaj Mandir from where we started) by around 7.45 pm. Anna told us that their elder grandson, Karan would be coming to pick them up and so they would drop Neha and I to my place. We met Aajoba before leaving and conveyed him that we had a lovely time. We reached home by around 8.30 pm. Dad was at home. My Dad works in Baroda from the last 8 years and visits us almost every weekend. He leaves for Baroda Sunday evening by around 9 pm. So we could meet him before he left. We gave him a quick overview of our trip. Since my Dad boards the train from Borivli, Neha thought she would return to her place with my Dad so that she could have company.
Dad left….Neha left…. The home was left with just Mom and me…. Gave a feeling of the same old routine life…. But after freshening up, while I was sipping tea, sitting in the window, pondering upon the whole trip, I realized that how refreshing and positive this trip had been. I have a friend named Karthik, who has gone on bike-trips and visited the marvelous places of India. And when I used to see the snaps, I used to envy him that he follows his passions. And I used to keep on cribbing to myself that if I had been a guy, I would have explored such exotic places. But by the time I finished my tea half-way, I though that why sit and crib. If not the bike trip, I can at least visit places which are simple and safe from the point of view of girls. That very moment I felt like shedding away my sheepishly lazy attitude which had possessed me for quite some time now. So I made up my mind to explore places and enjoy its beauty. It may be slow and steady initially. But at least I have resurrected from the lull in my life and my next trip would be Shrivardhan – Harihareshwar, again along the coastal belt. Yay!!!