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Monday, August 23, 2004

Time of my life

Life is beautiful :) Especially when it's anything like the last 3 days :)

Friday was the chill masti day. Caught Spidey 2 in G-7 at last. It's such a cute movie. Especially liked the inspirational bit where his aunt goes something like "we should live our life so that we can die with pride" ... I'm typically quite immune to gyan, but this lady was so amazingly charming and she said all this stuff so calmly, it was truly an Aha! moment for me.

We then went to Persian Durbar for dinner, tried out some new items, it was quite interesting. While there, Shash phones and comes up with this devastating one-liner, "I'm not well. I'm suffering from constipation of thought and diarrhoea of words". Lol :) I almost expired with mirth. Looks like I'm not the only victim of verbosity in our family :))


Saturday was the trek. Mangy phoned me at 11 pm on Friday night and suggested an impromptu full-day outing. Departure scheduled from Dadar at 5 am. So I turned in at 12 midnite, of course couldn't sleep until 3 am, and the darn alarm rang at 4 am. Groggily got out of bed (how I wish I had a Jeeves who would make one of his life-saving pick-me-ups at such opportune moments), dressed in trekking gear and rushed to Dadar. The seven of us (Mangy, Guru, Rambo, Pakora, Sweetie, Ranga and self) boarded a 7 am Lonavala train and then went by rick to Molevli, the starting point of the trek.

Molevli is this stop somewhere between Lonavala and Khandala. We walked 4 km amidst lush green farmlands, across narrow rivulets and narrower bridges, and finally arrived at the foot of a peak atop which was one of Shivaji's famed fortresses. This fortress had often been attacked, and always in vain, by Aurangzeb. In our ascent, we realized why.

The uphill climb was about 5 km. There was this initial winding road which was inclined at 45 degrees to the horizontal, and was straight up in certain places. Then there was this little flat stretch which led us to the illusion that the worst was over. Then came the Steps. Each Step was about two feet high. And there were hundreds of them. After what seemed an eternity, we arrived at the First Gate, and realized to our collective horror that there were three more Gates before we could reach the zenith. Finally, huffing and panting, we arrived at the "Summit of Olympus", or as we had irreverently nicknamed it, "Duke's Nose". There was this little dargah and temple right on top. We really felt like all-conquering Olympians :)

The climb had taken us 5 hours -- from 9 am to 2 pm. The descent took us less time -- from 2 pm to 6 pm. Of course, it rained throughout the trip ... We were soaked from top to bottom by 10 am, and didn't dry up till we returned to Mumbai. Of the four umbrellas which we had foolishly brought with us (talk of trekking in the monsoons while carrying an umbrella :)), one's handle broke (!), two got torn, and the last was upturned so often that it soon became unusable.

The air was such pure ozone, we could almost eat it. And the view ... how do I describe it? Breathtaking, astounding, stupendous, unbelievable ... the English Language falls short of adequate descriptive nouns. How does one describe the sensation of standing right under a cloud which is pouring rain on you, and then actually walking right through the cloud (yes, it does rain within the cloud too) to a point above? How do I explain what we felt when we stood atop the summit, in temperatures of about 8 degrees celsius with a hurricane hurling us about like toothpicks, and looking down but seeing only a sea of swirling white clouds all about us ... as if we were shipwrecked on a stranded island and were surrounded on all sides by a billowing ocean of frothy milk? How do we explain what we felt when we saw three little streams originating from three different peaks, rushing down the green and brown hills like a white scythe cutting through a mountain of mud and stone, and converging to form one mighty river which gushed down the hillsides and, swelling angrily, rushed turbulently away into the distance?

There were minor adventures galore. Mangy fell into a pool of muck and was washed "like a cow" by Pakora. Pakora caused a landslide when he tried to wash his shoes but washed away the ground beneath him instead. Ranga tore a ligament. I dropped my wallet which fortuitously was recovered by Mangy. We blushed with embarrassment when we saw two little barefoot kids, barely six years old, blithely skipping up peaks which we sturdy grown ups were afraid to even attempt. And we all had a blast having pakodas, omelette and chai from quaint picturesque little stalls dotted along the lonely way.

We finally reached Molevli after an estimated 19 kms and 9 non-stop hours of climbing, scrambling up, slipping and sliding, crawling, and some walking too. On our way back, we were informed that the peak we had scaled was over 1,000 metres high and was 1/8 th the height of India's highest peak, Kanchenjunga (8586 metres). That felt real good :)

Finally, the weary seven reached their Mumbai homes at 9.30 pm and collapsed into dreamless sleep. The trek, despite being relatively easy and smooth compared to most other treks, was really long and had left all of us with strained legs and sprained feet.


Sunday morning was Shailu's wedding. The mahurat was at 9.20 am, which is also when I awoke :( Rushed to get dressed and despite leaving the house at 10 am, managed to reach the venue (in Mulund, which is in Thane and is far far away from Mumbai) only at noon. Was wondering if I'd miss even the reception, but was relieved to find that the rest of the TAS gang was also just arriving. The wedding was a simple and sweet affair, typically Maharashtrian and superbly organized. The decor was traditional but intricate, and the spread was lavish and excited the taste buds no end. Bhabhiji is a lawyer who had won Shailu's heart in Class 10. No wonder he just couldn't stop gurgling with happiness, like the proverbial cat who's swallowed the cream. Here's wishing them both many decades of boundless marital bliss together.

Returned home by 3 pm, and was off to Sharafat uncle's house at 7 pm for a night long function. It was really nostalgic and brought back memories of the heady night outs in Kolkata. Arrived in office only after lunch on Monday .

It was a truly amazing weekend, and it's made moi totally refreshed and so truly happy. I'm feeling as uplifted as a newly created soap bubble, as amazed as a newborn child :)

Life is beautiful :)

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