Thursday, March 23, 2006

Travails et al....

The alarm rang at 4AM on the various mobiles/clocks in varied noise levels. All the girls groped in the dark, feeling around for the nearest alarm. But nobody got up. It was more like this. A wakes dreamily, and sees that the rest haven't stirred as yet. So she decides to have a shut-eye and wake when the someone else stirs. Then B wakes dreamily and looks around and repeats the same cycle. And finally everyone checks everyone else and goes back to sleep. And Borivali-local-530-Daman was all dissolved in the need for the precious early morning sleep. At about 630, one of the phones rang loud and shrill and all of us were resurrected from our unconsciousness. And we realised!

The call was from the boyfriend who decided to spring us all a surprise by turning up in Borivali at 6. He was not very pleased by the fact that we lifted the phone at home and more so in the hoarse, early-morning voice. This is the fastest ever that I have ever gotten ready. And the 6 of us reached Borivali at 9. The boyfriend cribbed about how he spent all the time reading 4 newspapers back-to-back over 2 vada paos and 4 cutting chai. Well! No soul really would like to witness the hunter-becoming-the-hunted situation, would he/she?

We got into this overpacked passenger-type train which was worse than a Virar local at the rush hour. We were all in different compartments trying to hang on to the train. We finally got ourselves pushed out of the train in Vapi at about noon. We had to take a cab to Daman which was about half-hour distance from Vapi. Very early during our trip, we figured that things had to be bargained big time in that part of the world. Right from Taxi fares to hotel rooms. On our way after a long bargain session with the cabbie, we saw a lot of autorikshaws packed with people. By packed I dont mean 4-5 but more like 8-10 people excluding the driver. All of us were quite bemused at how people travelled like that and laughed it off.

So we got to this hotel which was just a couple of minutes from a beach. Some other veteran friends (who leaked out info on the inebriation) had told us that there was one beach which was the best in the town. So after checking in at this particular hotel and washing up, we set out to see what all one could do in this sleepy little town and also check out that beach. There were several cabbies outside of the hotel who endorsed the places to visit around rather convincingly and we paid him a bomb to take us around - Couple of beaches, an old fort, some church/temple rigmarole etc etc. Expecting that this would take up at least whole of second half of the day, we set off. But to our dismay, the temple was a small roadside one and the fort was too dilapidated for pictures even. The whole tour finished in like 1.5 hours and the cabbie dropped us at a beach which looked like Juhu Beach with local families out for a picnic. And there were nothing but rocks and dirty ones too. This was definitely what we expected of the best beach in town. By now, we got royally screwed, taken for a ride, in the middle of nowhere and had no clue how to get back to the hotel. After spending almost an hour looking for an alternative mode of transport, we finally resorted to one stray autorikshaw who agreed to drop us at the hotel for an obnoxious unprecedented fare. And after a while, we saw ourselves in that auto travelling in renounced silence like the locals, at whom we had jeered few hours ago - 6 girls (3 on the seat, 3 on each lap) and the boyfriend next to the driver.

Dinner at the hotel was good. And so was the booze and so obscenely cheap at that. That was the first time I got high. Not exactly a great experience. I guess its good if you are sober or if you are completely high - oblivious to the world. The transitional high-ness is kinda stressful. You know you have difficulty walking straight and finding ground but you also know you need to have a grip on yourself. We went for a walk by the neighborhood beach soon after. Five girls walked and one floated. Next thing I remember is crashing in the bed only to wake next morning hangover-less.

We spent all of the morning and afternoon frolicking, swimming in the neighborhood beach and getting a tan that I did not really want. But what the heck. And thats when we realised that this was easily the best beach. Typically, a similar situation like the little boy who was symbolically looking for the treasure in The Alchemist. And the nirvana-like moment after all that the rip-offs and cheats made the trip quite memorable.

So anyway Dandeli, here I come....

Friday, March 17, 2006

Travails and adventures

Yay! Its final. I am going white water rafting to Dandeli next weekend. I have been having short trips every now and then after coming to Bangalore. But I guess, I need this to break away the lethargy that starts to grow over you in this city like an epidemic.

Life in Bombay was a lot different. Things were always on the move irrespective of any time of the day or week or year. Work kept one terribly busy and weekends were busier and usually booked for something or other for the subsequent 3 weekends. Even catching a movie used to be difficult sometimes. Of course one could squeeze time for it too most of the times. Just 6-7 hours of sleep, and one was fresh and ready to take on the fires and late hours at work and subsequent maggie-dinners and K soaps (Deadly combo that!). Here, 8 hours of work is a gruelling exercise trying to figure out whether the participants of the conference call are actually speaking english or Japanese. And other times are spent in trying to assimilate what I have understood and act upon them. And on other days, the same 8 hours are gruelling with no clue about how to appear busy in front of the damn machine. Time after work is immense now. I had never seen how the world outside looked at 6PM on a week day in Bombay. In fact, 11PM was a more familiar time to admire the skyline of the city. Here, I am already done with stage II of sleep by 11PM. 9+ hours of sleep and I am still groggy most of the days. Gah!

Trips were a lot of fun. And adventure from the word go. They were never planned and ended up being the backpack varieties. Even the honeymoon, which came much later, turned out to be just that. Its different that the mother of adventures - the tsunami happened just then. Anyway, things were adventurous in a less literal sense back then. There was no planning, no booking, just a couple of thousands in the pockets. And a weekend trip would be done. On a TGIF-like afternoon, the place would be decided amongst a couple of mail exchanges with friends and evening, we'd be at Dadar station to board the bus to Khandala or train to Nerul/Matheran, a ferry to Alibaug and so on. One such trip of ours was decided to be Mahableshwar.

This was more of a 'semi planned' trip. By semi planned, I mean, we had booked our bus tickets in one of these humongous, hep-looking Volvo buses well in advance. What we'd have done after alighting at Panchgani/Mahableshwar was still anybody's guess. But at least it was a start. But fate decided to screw our humble start to an organized life rather royally. We were all ready to board the bus outside Andheri Shoppers Stop at 9PM when one of us got a call from the travels guy that there was some Maharashtra wide bus strike and buses were cancelled until further notice and we could collect the refund for our tickets.

A look of gloom and unimaginable silence prevailed through for several moments in the apartment. Thankfully none of us 6 noisy girls were really in the verge of tears. A boyfriend of one of the gang pacified us with the "hota hai"-"its ok"-type sympathetic noises. He was a late entrant into the whole plan and hence not part of the trip. And so he had booked himself a trip to Kolhapur the next morning. Then suddenly one of us hit with an idea of going to Daman the next morning. Now, our knowledge of Daman was as much that of a school going kid. One of the union territories of India, wich is associated with one more place called Diu and blah. Of course we also knew a couple of things related to inebriation that a 10-11 year old might not know. Hence the gloom and silence was forgotten and the decibel levels in the apartment soared to its maximum and stayed that way until 2AM when the boyfriend, after refusing our invite to Daman, left for his abode and the others decided to call it a day in order to wake early to take the first local to Borivali where outbound trains to Gujarat took off at 5-530AM.

Ok. I guess, this is getting a bit too long and I am past my sleep time. Will continue later....

Monday, March 06, 2006

Sounds of music

"Wow! That doesn't sound like violin, does it?" asks an observant husband while wife, on wheels, is waiting for the busy signal to turn green.

"Nope. Thats
morsing. Its a percussion instrument you play with your mouth." (doing some gestures so that he figures out)

"Ok. I got it. (A momentary pause) But I think I am getting better."

"Better at what?"

"I am proud of you to be identifying raagas and I am proud of myself to be identifying instruments."

"Hmm, instruments like?"

"Like violin and non-violin?"