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Postcard From Mahabaleshwar – 2002

Sharing An Old Travelogue – Mahabaleshwar 2002

Travel – Mahabaleshwar

I am back from one of the most awesome trips I have experienced. My 3 day Mahabaleshwar trip was really refreshing exciting and memorable. Instead of using more adjectives, let me share some of my wonderful post card memories. I have lots of things coming in my mind now and I do not know whether my words will do justice in expressing my thoughts!

Well here it is goes…

The partners in crime were:

1. ZAL* Kumar – Nayan (Bhayander’s darling Principal Nayan was left back in Mumbai though the teacher in him took over sometimes) * ZAL = Zoom, Accessories & Landscape
2. AVP / Chi Chi / Kotak / Missile Pav – Chirag (Our thanda thanda cool cool guy. Black Stallion of Kotak Mahindra. They called him 12 times in a day to discuss with Chirag -Intrusion of Mumbai life continued for Chirag)
3. Fekuchand / Mr. Pakao / Alu / Amar Fuddi – Pratik (Apan ka hero. The Biggest Trump Card of StanC Custodial Services.Visiting Faculty at Harvard / MIT / Wharton / Oxford on Fekology)
4. AK47 / MBA* – Ashok (Main Khud Ki Taarif Kaise Karo) *MBA = Main Bada Atrangi (I am a big eccentric) / Mane Baddhu Avde (I know everything)

The famous four gang had one serious agenda for the trip: Fun! All four of us wanted to chill out and spend time with each other without the intrusion of our urban Mumbai life. So we went with a clean postcard to make it a collage of wonderful memories. And we came back with a bagful of memories which will remain green for a long long time.

Mahabaleshwar is a place with wonderful scenic beauty. One smart thing that we did was to stay from the main town. We stayed in hotel which was 1 km away from the main market. The hotel was truly beautiful and it complemented the beautiful surroundings. One could have spent two three days there in the hotel itself. We had a beautiful pond below our rooms and the majestic mountains in front our sight. A room with a view! The best part of the hotel infrastructure was that it had totally non-urban, spacious, traditionally styled look and ambience. The food was a delight puranpoli, gulab jamun, pav bhaji, khichdhi, biscuit bhakri, wheat and bajra rotis. Our stomach and heart both were filled joy. The proof is that a total junk food patron like me did not spend a single penny on any junk food.

Our first adventure was at Helen’s point. During our random stroll, we came across a signpost directing towards a certain Helen’s point. The adventurer’s spirit in us overtook us and we decide to explore it. Initially it was fun. Then it became more and more eerie. There was not a single soul in sight apart from us and there were only 2 footmarks on the road. They also did not come back! Three kilometers down the road and no signs of any point. Only trees , trees and more trees with a very thin path. We looked back and the memories of Raaz came alive. The setting was strikingly similar. We decided to go back and explore Helen’s point later preferably in the middle of the dead night. It would be a great adventure! But Helen’s point introduced the Raaz effect in our trip.

After a nearly 7 km walk and sumptuous meal, we went ahead to Tapola or Mini Kashmir in our private taxi. The roads were sexy! The hills, the valleys, the woods, the rivers, the monkeys & a deer, tiny hamlets, waterfall without water made a soothing and satiating view. Yeh dil maange more / Yuhi chalte rahe hum….. Everywhere in Mahabaleshwar this is the common thought one encounters. The wonderful scenic beauty makes a perfect recipe for romance. Add to this a spice of Yash Chopra and other romantic songs. Waadiyan mere daaman raaste meri bahein / Yeh kahan aa gaye hum…. Deadly combo! Hence it is a favorite honeymoon point. Majority of the fellow travelers are honeymooners or couples having a great time. Countless lovebirds! Four crows!

Coming back to Tapola or Mini Kashmir; it is a boating club point on the Koyna river. Boating on a river amidst the majestic and imposing mountains is a one joy to cherish. Words fail here.

After our dinner, we had a great time playing Table Tennis. We hired a VCD to watch Raaz. As this idea was inspired at Helen’s point, the best plan of action could have been to see Raaz from 12 to 3 and then go to Helen’s point. But the idea failed! Only 2 of us survived till the end of the movie. The others were dead asleep. The whole day of adventure, roaming, sight-seeing, playing and above all heavy tasty meals had ensured that Helen’s point will have to wait. ZAL kumar was heavily disappointed. The first day thus went off very well. Only one intrusion was AVP’s phone calls from his office. Every time AVP was doing something fantastic or winning a TT game, phone would ring for him! I am sure his deputy will have a good firing today!

One of the biggest pleasures was the non-stop sleep. It was like one brief moment – we slept and we woke. In spite of a rigorous schedule from morning 6:30 to 2, 5 hours of sweet sleep refreshed us fully. We were not tired nor did we felt like sleeping some time more. It did not even hamper our energy and enthusiasm on the next day. We were ready for more action! And in Mumbai one local train trip from Andheri to Churchgate makes us to take some rest and then resume our work.

We started the second day with our trip to Panchgani. It is the second largest plateau in the world (first is in Tibet). Most of the Hindi movies were shot here (now they go to foreign locales…some still come here). The wonderful part of our trip was horse riding on the plateau. Though it was damn slow initially, once we got the trick and built a rapport (with horse?), it was great fun. Especially when it went galloping fast, we were literally bouncing and even afraid that what would have happen if we fall? Panchgani is also home to many many wonderful schools where the real emphasis is on extra curricular activities. The students had the best facilities, convent grooming, personality development initiatives and tons of nature. Their consisted on beautiful bungalows! One must say I have missed one great way of learning!

During our entire trip, there were many irrelevant points but we made sure that we brought life to them. There were points like the waterfall without water, the echo point with weak echo, the monkey point (three stones in the shape of three monkeys – we compensated by 3 of us becoming monkeys), the 2 points in between which Aamir Khan ran in the film Raja Hindustani (???) and Amisha Patel’s school in Gadar (!!!). We also invented one point – Bison Singh Bedi (BSS) point. One wild bison was roaming around and dancing near a certain Malcolm point. We stopped there to watch it. Many other people saw and joined us. We started telling that this is the Cow point and is also called BSS point. Three fellows went further and started taking snaps with the bison!

At various sight seeing halts, we had various serious discussions. Obviously when 2 CAs, 1 CS, 1 MBA come together they can convert Sunset point into Intellectual Property Rights discussion meeting. We had many discussions – perfect place to watch sunset, evaluating criterion for echos, dignity of human beings, how can 5 rivers meet at one place, Lagaan v/s Amelie v/s Monsoon Wedding… One serious discussion that became debate was regarding the marketing strategy to two local fruit products companies – Mapro and Mala (the marketing beast in me had to wake up finally). One lady overheard our debate and her first remark was: “I think someone from you must be an MBA!” Finally, I behave like an MBA. Unofficial convocation! Well our debates have always made new contacts. We had a chit chat with that lady and we moved on after exchanging our visiting cards. We also made friendship with an Israeli Colonel and Vietnamese professor studying Buddhist Literature! Also our remarks and comments on the Mahabaleshwar-Raaz comparison won us many smiles.

Another strong hallmark of Mahabaleshwar is its berries – Strawberry, Rasberry, Mulberry, Gooseberry. We saw strawberry farms and had a feast on ice creams and milk shakes of fresh strawberry. We also enjoyed the fruits in their natural form. My favorite is the Mulberry fruit. It is too good!

The second day night was reserved for hypnotism and gambling! After the carom, table tennis and dinner Chi Chi decide to hypnotise us. Alu and ZAL did not agree to become the subjects. I agreed to become the subject. I decided to fool them by giving all wrong and cocky answers. It started well. Then I was in Goa. Then they asked me if I could feel the water. I said no. And then they threw water over me (my eyes were closed). The revenge and the counter revenge continued. Holi was ahead of its schedule! In the gambling session, Nayan was roasted for devil’s dinner as he lost nearly 130 rupees (Our conversion rate was very tiny). I made a killing of 110 bucks. The final night was over amongst fun and frolic.

On the third and final day morning we had a long morning walk. ZAL Kumar was highly enthusiastic as it was the Oscar morning. He checked out the status of Lagaan on TV. As the awards continued we started packing and then we moved out. He was glued to the TV till we left at 9:00 a.m. he kept on inquiring on the way about the status of Lagaan. Finally we became aware of the sad news. Sanjana continued to haunt us. The movie shown in our bus was none other than RAAZ! So Raaz theme continued everywhere for us – comparisons, discussions, comments to fellow passengers, music in the market, our VCD movie, bus movie. We know each and every scene of the movie now! We were back at 5:00 in Mumbai and back to the good old life from a wonderful break.

Well Mahabaleswhar was not all about fun. It was not only about forgetting Bombay Blues and sleeping with Nature. It was not only about mulberries, Raaz and various points. It was about our friendship. Nothing can make those picture perfect postcard memories more greener than our friendship! Thanks, God!

March 26, 2002