Thursday, January 04, 2007

To wilderness and back!!

The Beginning!!

As the year 2006 drew to a close, certain wanderlust struck souls decided to ring in the new year in a different manner. Not the regular party hopping neither sitting back at home and whiling the time away...... nopes this was not what these people had in mind. They wanted a getaway........ somewhere far from the crowd, the hustle-bustle of the everyday life, somewhere amidst the nature. And thus, the plan to go to Diveagar was hatched. A beach side village on the Konkan coast, this place was almost a perfect picture of what we had in mind. However, fate willed otherwise. No accommodation, and thus again we started scouting around for a place which would offer exactly what we had in mind. And then Malshej Ghat happened. A beautiful but lonely spot amidst the western ghats, this place is roughly 170 km away from Pune, and 70 km from Kalyan. A small village on NH 222 in the Thane district, this place had a charm of its own but that was what we found out much later. Spirits were high as we gathered people around us. And soon enough we had a team of 6. Me, Kuntal, Ipshita, Soumi, Soumen and Arunava. And the journey was to start on 29th December, 2006 - 9:00 p.m. And then the wait for the designated day started....................

What with life moving along in its familiar wheel of daily chores, before long it was 29th morning as me and Kuntal stepped out to buy wood and coal to make a bonfire for us at Malshej. Oh, I forgot!! Our reservations were made at the MTDC resort out there. One cottage, 6 people.....6 nutters!! And so we bought the supplies....... But, all was not meant to be fine, as Ipsy reported in sick. Still we decided to go ahead and went about our daily activities that a professional life demands.

The DropOut!!

29/12/2006, 9:00 pm - Me and Kuntal were waiting for the hired car to turn up at our office. It duly turned up at 10..... We loaded the Tavera, with beer and wood apart from our luggage, and moved ahead towards Soumi's place, where she and Arunava would be waiting for us a pre-decided landmark. Meanwhile, Soumen got stuck at some client meeting in his office at Magarpatta city. What a blow!! This set back out calculations by quite a few hours. Still, we had to hang around. To utilise it fully, the four of us had dinner, turned up at my place for our first drink of the trip (soumi the exception here!!). soon enough it was midnight. Soumen was in meeting for over an hour now. At this juncture, we hatched a devious plan to get Soumen out. And started for his office. But, fate had a different surprise for us in store.Soumen was not to be found at his office. We ended up bothering more than a few people across the various floors of his office. No meeting, no Soumen. Unable to figure out the situation clearly, we had to make a move now. We couldn't even reach him. Dejected at the turn of events we started on our way to Malshej Ghat at 2:00 a.m.

The BIG blow!!

As the cool breeze hit our face, we started getting into our groove. The night felt cold, but good!! We were finally on our way. The journey had begun. As we stared out into the night, watching the world sleep caught in the wrap of its self-created cocoon, where a myriad of emotions and thoughts swim along each other, we slowly eased into the warmth of the rug and the comfort of the music played in the Tavera. Everything was perfect. We prepared ourselves for Malshej still a few hours away. Till.................. till things went wrong!! It was near Rajguru nagar that the car broke drown, inexplicable but yes it broke down............. With it our joyous bearing was clouded by the uncertainty that such situations bring along with them. What shall we do now??

The way out..... and finally Malshej........

Kuntal took the initiative to look for some alternative mode of transport. After much looking around, he managed to hire a Maruti van at 3:30 in the morning!! And so we packed ourselves in the van and we continued our journey, with only the woods still left the Tavera. Malshej Ghat.......... here we come!! As we drove through the night, me and soumi managed to grab more than just a few winks of sleep. With break of dawn, we drove into Malshej, and finally at MTDC resort at 6:00 a.m. The scene was too beautiful............ And so our date with nature began!!A walk around and after catching some sleep, we whiled away the afternoon in our cottage with some music and loads of adda!! Come evening we stepped out, get a feel of the locality or whatever was in existence there. Imagine this place was cut off from the world, save for the lone phone booth some 2 km away. We strolled and then ran a little to the settlements there, and managed to gather some woods and kerosene to light up a fire in the night.

30/12/2006, 11:00 pm - The attempts to light up the fire started. After much effort and time consumption, we managed a fire. And what a fire it was. Simply great. Its embers lasted till teh early hours of the morning. Sitting by the fire, we chatted away to glory, sometimes the talk being serious, sometimes all in good fun. Laced with snacks and music...... and then the silence of the night, it was a night well spent as we finally retired in the wee hours of the morning....... the remnant of the fire still warm enough!!As the sun rose above our heads, our stay at Malshej too drew to a close. Our broken down Tavera nowhere in sight we decided to board the state transport bus to "Aalefata" from where we would get buses for Pune. And so our journey back home started, which oddly enough wasn't really eventful as was the journey to Malshej. But it remains a trip worth remembering, sights worth recalling and moments worth talking about!!

At the end of the day, I recall the lines from the great poem "Ithaca" where Constantine says:

"Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage, without her you would have never set out on the road, She has nothing more to give you. And if you find her poor, Ithaca has not deceived you. Wise as you have become, with so much experience, you must already have understood what Ithaca means."

Note: The photographs are courtesy Kuntal Saha.