Trip to Maharashtra Part2 – Road trip to Panchgani

You can find Part1 here

We left the apartment and hurried to the close-by shopping complex named Galleria, to grab some food. I sat on the pillion seat and marveled at the buildings of Hiranandani that stood high and slightly alike with their classy facades. Designed completely in neo classical architectural style, the township flaunted a stark difference from the rest of Mumbai. Hiranandani is known to be the most elegant of the residential townships in Mumbai.

In half an hour, we were in Aaditya Nair’s new car, heading out of Mumbai.

Mumbai apparently wasn’t going to be a respite from Hyderabad’s scorching heat. With its humidity as an added pain, it irked everybody. With shades on and sun screen lotion dabbed all over my face, I was prepared. Chandna and I, we sat at the back and caught up on happenings, friends and gossip. Soon the sun began to retire for the day, thereby lessening the heat. The woofers reverberated continuously as we played some good music and it occasionally sent out fervent vibrations. I jerked suddenly as the back of my seat vibrated. The rear view mirror vibrated, amusing all of us a little. With music and travel put together, I had no reason to frown. It felt like the ideal crazy road trip. In about three hours, we halted at Coffee Day, Pune where Ajay and his friend, Satish would join us.

They arrived. We had a long way to go and light was getting scarcer by the minute. The road to Panchgani wasn’t one to be driven on at the later hours of the day. Most of the stretches were devoid of any form of lighting. Some of them were roads with a good amount of incline, sharp turns and U bends. We went on, relying fully on the head lights. It felt dangerous; even more so to see Pranav and Ajay on the bike. I had my head half out of my elbows rested on the edge of the window; I held my hair band tight as it threatened to fly away. My hair hit my neck unceasingly and made it prickle; it was annoying. Far way, down below lights glistened in the blackness. The horizon was undecipherable. The black with golden dots of fire united smoothly with the beyond sprinkled with stars. It reminded me of Diamonds by Rihanna. How spectacular the world becomes at night, I thought, as I put my head back in to avoid a bad hair next-day.

The "cottage"
The “cottage”

We settled down comfortably at a local eatery as we waited for out parathas to arrive. They were delicious and heavy. The hotel we had in mind was already full that night. We called a couple of other hotels; all went in vain. There was one place though. They had a cottage for 3.5k. After some negotiating, we paid the man 3k and followed him a couple of kilometres to get to some deserted area. After going down a fleet of stairs, we were there; in front of us was the “cottage”. “Is this the rest room?” Nair asked aloud and everyone burst into a cackle. The cottage had one room and a balcony. The room had two beds, one fan at the corner of the room, no water and plenty of insects and flies. The next hour, we spent laughing at our circumstances and at Nair’s cottage-jokes.

I shut the door behind me and sat in the balcony. The quiet was peaceful. I thought about how far away I was from all that I wanted to do in life; something about the silence was powerful and promising. Ajay joined me after a while, we gazed at the valley in silence not realizing an hour go by.

It was time to sleep, I had had a long day.

I woke up in the morning to see that sun was back, glowing in all its radiance. The mist caused the far away hills to evanesce into the sky. The lake in between the valley looked elegant, yet sober; it was blue-grey. The smell of smokes filled the air as one of the others lit up a cig. I sipped in steaming hot tea; it was perfect.

Morning view from our balcony
Morning view from our balcony

We checked out and headed to Mapro Foods. Contrary to the remaining of Panchgani, this place was thronged with people of all ages. The verdant place with   its ponds, huge tents, benches and other accoutrements looked like a mini carnival. The sandwiches were kinda tasty. So were the fresh strawberry and mango ice cream scoops. We bought a box of strawberries and blackberries and left. We decided to halt at a table land like area that shot off the road on the side. Nair went ahead in full speed and as I sat up animated, he swerved the car into a full 360 degree spin, letting a gust of sand fly all around. We parked the car at the edge of the open, unprotected area. Two middle-aged women were relentlessly trying to synchronize high-jumps with the camera click to get a pic of them high up. We stood there a while, watched and giggled.

Restaurant at Mapro foods
The crowded restaurant at Mapro foods

It was a long drive to Pune and it was hot, again. Ajay’s house was certainly welcoming. Painted in soft colours and furnished with low set bamboo couches convertible to beds, bamboo stools and a hammock, the apartment was lovely and it felt like home instantly. We spent the day lazing on his couch and listening to good music. There was so much of Radioactive by Imagine Dragons; it became the song of the trip, pretty much.

That next day was Chandna’s birthday. We went to a nice place with a lot of furniture almost huddled together in the small expanse, quite symbolic of the crowds that thronged the place. Funny paintings occupied most of the walls. I got hyper when I recognized the tune as one of Avial’s songs. It felt like college again; we sang aloud merrily. I met some more of their friends; we had a fun time. Hotel California was played, dedicated to the girl turning 23 that night. It was past twelve, it was time to leave. I came back with Ajay on his bike, giving in to my fondness for bike rides at night. It was a spirited night with pictures, cake and loads of happiness.

All of us!
All of us!
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