One lazy Sunday afternoon conversation between couple of us turned into a reality when six of us [Pebbles, Jane, Old Monk, David, Barbie & Wise Ass] finally decided to hit the road.
All I remember of that night was getting drunk and making calls to all my friends and fortunately Sandeep had not picked up the cell that night. Hence next day he calls me up and that’s when we decide that we have to go on a road trip to Alibaug! We had done a similar trip to the same place couple of years back and wanted this trip to be a much better than that. We decide that since we are going to have a long 57weekend lets plan out such a trip that the entire BSc. IT class can join us. Plan was put on table and Sandeep decided to take up the ownership or co-ordinating the event, which by no means an easy task considering the people compatibility issues [Yes, we have passed out of college 2 and half years back but certain people compatibility issues still remain].
What followed were series of chain mails & conference calls for fine-tuning the plan. A word has to be mentioned of Mr. Saurabh Mantri whose ass must have burnt considering that he was a part of all the mails and concalls whereas he had to slog it out at hell called Chennai. It stared with 12 people agreeing to come on the trip as days passed number of people deciding to join us on trip dwindled. It stared with the usual suspects rejecting the offer to join us. Then 4 days before the departure Trupti & Shweta backed out and hence Vaishali had to back out. Sultan and Kunal backed out 3 days prior to the trip. Next 3 days were crucial every mail or phone call from the hogs used to make me think about the worst. Luckily there were no more hiccups.
We decided to travel on our bikes (one Hero Honda Splendor and a couple of Bajaj Pulsars)
One of the inbuilt habits that we hogs have was to arrive late. The departure time was decided to be 7:00am. I am pretty much sure that not one arrived before 7:15. Sandy and Alan were the first to arrive at Andheri police station; to our amazement the next person to arrive was Siddesh (I was more or less convinced that this guy is not going to come and is going to ditch us at the last moment, but thanks siddesh to prove us wrong!). I arrived at 7:40 not bad considering my standards and as usual dhiraj and nitin arrived last.
It was decided that I and Sandeep, Nitin and Dhiraj and Siddesh and Alankar would travel together. Even before we started on our journey series of abuses started flowing (I feel throwing abuses at each other is one of the best ways to bond). We wanted to break a coconut before the start of the journey but never really performed that ritual. I guess that was forgotten in the process of deciding the route. We filled up petrol at guru nanak petrol pump and were off!
After traveling for 3 Kms we had our first break, in front of powai lake to take pictures. After a brief break of posing in front of cameras and loading our mouths with chewing gums we started riding towards our next halt panvel naka.
At panvel naka we took our first official break for breakfast. Breakfast was heavy, ordered vada pavs, kharwas, missal pav (which was too spicy) and tea. Later helmet was off and the ride along the picturesque countryside began.
There is something about the bike and the country road that has always fascinated me, probable that is one the reasons why I kept giving Dhiraj excuses to not travel in car. The drive was exciting and one of the biggest advantages was stopping wherever we felt. For once we all guys who pretend to be macho felt like women and wanted our pictures taken at every landscape that seemed exotic. We stopped at this deserted water treatment plant located at the NH-17 highway, none of us really had the guts to enter the spooky place, and hence we just water the plants and started out modeling sessions. Alankar was the leader as he had this urge to take “Single” photos. Being the downtown guys that we are no one owned a digicam and as a result had to be satisfied with Nitin’s cell phone, which gave our next reason to argue, “Who would click the pictures?” By default Nitin had to click most of the pictures as phone belonged to him, Dhiraj also volunteered to showoff his photography skills.
Next pit stop Vadhkal Naka. Vadhkal Naka is the spot that splits NH-17 into 1. Road to Alibaug 2. Road to Goa. We decided to take a 15 min break here. As we were waiting we saw the convoy of the agricultural minister of India passing by. He was seated in a swanky BMW as his sped at more than 70Kms on a road made of clay!
The road from hereon was horrible! We were riding at less than 40Kms/hr now carefully trying to avoid the potholes and preserve the tyres from puncturing. At 12:15 pm we reached alibaug. As we had decided to stay at Kashid it meant we had to ride another 50 Kms.
The road from Alibaug to Kashid it excellent, like Alankar had once described “It looks like roads from NFS”. After riding through the winding road we finally arrived at Kashid and the search for a cheap accommodation began. In Mumbai itself it was decided that in spite of having booked a room we would hunt for cheaper accommodation. Dhiraj and Nitin along with myself and Sandy started the hunt but Siddhesh and Alankar had other ideas. These guys went to same guesthouse where we had booked room at a slightly higher price and confirmed our reservation! Anyways we all were tired and wanted to just rest our bottoms and get a good lunch and we headed to the same place where we had booked room and went out for lunch.
Lunch had to be sumptuous. We ordered 6 chicken thalis and 2 fried fishes along with couple of bottles of cold drinks. The lunch went on for one and a half hour and we decided to proceed for Murud-Janjira fort directly. Murud is 15 Kms from Kashid and one the way we found ruins of a palace/fort/bungalow. This placed seemed straight out of postcards of Goa and being the girls that we are wanted ourselves to be captured posing with this ruins.
Dhiraj is a kind of guy who loves exploring new locations. I guess Siddhesh and myself are a bit to orthodox and do not like any deviations for the decided plan but we more or less succumb looking at Dhiraj’s enthusiasm. The place was kind of cool and Dhiraj as usual could not keep his feet on ground and had to climb on the walls that would have given away at any moment. Nitin, Siddhesh and Sandeep were the other courageous blokes to climb the wall.
Alankar meanwhile identified a spot where he could get his “Single” photograph clicked. After spending about 30 mins and listening to constant nagging of Siddesh as he wanted to go visit Janjira fort we decided to leave.
Fate had different ideas. Dhiraj’s bike refused to start. Siddesh and Alakar had already reached Murud and we were still stuck at middle of nowhere. Sandeep informed them to come back along with a Mechanic, but these guys had different ideas. Siddesh on coming back minus the mechanic started showing off his knowledge on bikes and in the process broke one of the spark plugs. Watching Dhirajs and Siddeshs face was pure bliss! Dhiraj face had gone white and I guess he never really recovered from it for the entire trip. Later Siddhesh went back to Murud and this time arrived with the mechanic and voila the problem was fixed in a couple of minutes. We next went to Murud and gat the little niggles in our bikes fixed.
Meanwhile Nitin and Me decided to go on an Alcohol hunt. We decided to buy half bottle of Rum and half of Whiskey. Whiskey was too costly and decided to go with full “Old Monk” rum along with 3 beers. Nitin and I were in a kind of moral dilemma as only 2 of us were going to drink tonight. Alankar had vowed not to drink until one of his wishes is not fulfilled, Sandeep was being sandeep giving all kind of excuses not to drink with us and surprising Dhiraj opted out! I did not want to push him as generally he is open to drinking but must have had a solid reason not to drink. So that left Me, Nitin and Siddesh, who by the way is a very light drinker considering the standards Nitin and I have set. Completely loaded with alcohol and cold drinks we made our journey back to Kashid. On our way for some reason Sandeep felt this sudden urge to share ghost stories with me. Let me tell you people apart form my genitals I am a woman inside. I love romantic comedy movie, Sex and the City and Desperate Housewives are some of my favorite shows. Hence all the stories scared the shit out of me and in support of Sandeep the rain gods let out a nice little burst of rain, just about enough to get us completely drenched. After freshening up and most importantly changing the wet under garments we decided to uncork the beer. Around 9:30 we started our drink and the food (Chicken gravy) arrived shortly.
There is one thing about alcohol; it makes people on the table gel. With the alcohol slowly sinking in me, we started this stupid game wherein one person would ask a question and everyone has to answer. The question invariably would revolve around girls i.e. your present crush, past crush etc. It always intrigues me why is this question so important to guys. I think guys like to showoff that they are committed and that they have been successful in proving themselves worthy in front of a member of the opposite gender. Again if a guy were to be committed he would be very modest about it and would like to pass it by saying its nothing. I seriously don’t understand why hide? Are you not proud being committed? Are you afraid of losing your girlfriend?
As we started with our questions I realized that only couple of us were answering the questions honestly this I can say, as I have known some amount of past history of each of them. Personally speaking this was the very first time I came out clean in front of my friends. Felt Good! I am really not proud of my non-existent “Love” life but what the heck; every dog has its day. By around 1:30 am we had finished our drinks and went out for a small stroll and were in bed by 2:00 am.
Next day early morning Siddesh wakes us up at 6:30 as he wants to go to the fort. I was probably the only one to rise. By the time I was done with my morning rituals Siddesh was also busy sleeping. Finally at 7:30 I decided to wake everyone and head to the beach. There something about water that all of us have loved be it Goa, Akasa or the previous Alibaug visit we have always enjoyed the water. Even if it meant getting sun burns. We all saw a changed Alankar the same guy who was normally shy natured went out and spoke with group of girls, pretty impressive considering the fact that apart from him and Siddesh no one else in the group would have mustered courage to do it!
After spending considerable amount of time in water we decided to hit the shacks for some breakfast. During breakfast it was decided that we would go to the fort [Again thanks to Siddeshs persuasion] without changing our wet clothes. Alankar and Siddesh went back to room to collect money to pay for breakfast and to our horror when they came back they were all decked up in fresh clothes. That is when we decided to teach Alankar a lesson by getting him wet again. After a lot of acting and cribbing we finally managed to get the valuable like I-pod, wallet and watch off Alankar and handed them to Siddesh. We carried Alankar for some 500 meters before throwing him in the sea. On looking that he was wet in brand new clothes and Siddesh was all fresh Alankar caught hold of Siddesh and pushed him water. Siddesh stood up completely drenched and uttered the words “OH! Fuck! Alankar I have your I-Pod and its wet” Kodak Moment! Alankar lost all his color and was completely pissed with us.
Well it took 20 minutes and more persuasion before we finally left for Janjira fort. It was some 20 Kms from Kashid. On the way to the fort Sandeep shared quiet a few things. Prior to this conversation Sandeep and I shared this very complex bond, I don’t really know how to put it but its not easy, I guess what we lack was trust. With Sandeep opening up I felt things would be much more clearer in the future.
Siddesh the historian wanted to pen down his experiences. He has compiled the next part.
I apologize to Sai that I intercepted his chronicle here just because I felt the incidents from here on amazed me a lot and being an amateur writer its easy for me to continue…I don’t remember writing a journal after passing out of school, this brilliant write-up from my friend [Wise Ass] urged me to jump out from my b-------ed at mid-night and pen my memories down, as the string of thoughts flown out of my head
First of all let me tell you i never expected trip to be so good as it turned out to be…It remains one of the best places I have ever seen. Like Wise Ass mentioned before, even I myself wasn’t sure that I will be able to make it to Alibaug trip, I had been to Matheran and Naneghat recently so I was doubtful that I will be allowed for another night out. I was excited from the day I was told by the hogs that we were going to Alibaug, being a history freak I was curious to see the fort that I heard, was an island, so I gathered all the information to get to the fort. Coming back to interception.
It had become all the more difficult to persuade all of them to go to the fort. After hogging the breakfast all the hogs did was lie on the hammocks. Dhiraj didn’t recover from the trauma day before when his bike broke down; Alankar was all the more furious at me after the sacred immersion. All of us were drenched and dirty, every one desperately wanted to go for a shower while I wanted to visit the fort in any state, no one seemed eager except Sandeep and Sai. Nitin went with Alankar to the room for a quick download session & to get wallets and the license’s, Dhiraj wanted to stay back at the beach. Somehow after some serious discussion we decided to head towards Murud in the same pathetic state we were in, my soaked jeans weighted 5ks, we told Nitin and alankar to join us on the way.
Finally there was some hope that we will see the fort, we decided not to hault anywhere in between rather then final destination Murud. Finally the jinx was broken we had passed the palance of Ahmandganj which lies on the hillock where the bike was broken day before. I heaved a sigh of relief.
We halted at the small shanty, to ask for direction as the road was forked and inquired about the road, our expectations dashed down when a villager told us that there is nothing interesting about the fort it was just a compound with crap inside. Our shoulders drooped but we decided to stay put. We decided to stick to the coast line road, the road was all screwed up but the view was breathtaking…one side bounded by hamlets and the other side with sparking sea fringed with Betelnut and coconut trees…I also learnt that Murud was one of the biggest supplier of Betelnut in our country…as we approached Murud we found out it was a sleepy fisherman village. After riding through the hills and going through the winding roads you will discover small hamlets and tiny towns, clean, green, and quaint, set amidst sleeping fields and swaying palms dotting the jagged coastline.
As we reached the other side of the hill as we descended we halted at the toll booth not to pay the toll but Dhiraj and Nitin had spotted an ice cream cart, we cooled our body engines with much needed stick Kulfi’s [the good old ones we used to get outside our school premises] and headed towards the shore again…Much to our surprise we saw a huge sinister standing tall in the middle of the sea…its amazing how a pile of ruins can trigger your imagination to such an extent. I couldn’t get my eyes off…It was a dream come true… We could see the fort in the offing, I couldn’t wait to reach there…we parked out bikes when a grumpy rude villager approached us and asked for parking charge, he looked like the descendent of the Siddis [The builders of Janjira fort]. Then we crossed the inclined where a boat bridged us to another sailboat. We encumbered one side of the boat not too long after that we were bifurcated by a cranky boatman to balance the boat...Dhiraj, Sai and Sandeep were on one side and Alankar Nitin and me were on another. Camera were out and we tried to capture the mystic view of the fort isle and the prosperous coast…
But like Sai mentioned we only managed to click few snap of ourselves rather then natural landscape. It was a pleasant drift towards the fort and out of nowhere we hear a splash of water PPPhewww…nothing fell in the water…but Dhiraj spat water on the uncle next to him, wonder how that happened? We all busted into laughter couldn’t control ourselves. Our fellow commuters started giving us disgusting looks and wondering what was so funny. Dhiraj apologized to the uncle and offered him his handkerchief and the uncle handed his kerchief in return.
The boatman unleashed the main sail and the wind gently floated us towards the majestic fortress, we looked on, as the walls grew taller and taller. It was strange how the walls resisted the rude waves of the Arabian Sea… Then we could see a huge atrium that had two monster doors to seal it up... The boat was wobbling to and fro by steady currents and we had to lighten the boat and jump on to the slippery steps, but hogs managed to hop out safely. It was quite a challenge for the women in burkha to try the long jump in the adverse conditions... The boatmen guided the passengers out, another localite looked like a nigga joined in to get the people down to the fort. I was wondering why so many people helped without a reason.
*Siddesh is trying to dig out some artifacts from the island and hence let me finish it.
The people who run these boat services are bloody cheats, they charged money for practically every possible thing. They even charged us for helping to board and alight the boat! I never knew Siddesh was so interested in history for starters he was one who persuaded us to visit the fort and second he never let the guide out of sight, he followed him like his shadow. I personally felt the story the guide told was biased.
Every story has two sides and the story our guide told was iffy because he kept bringing religion in between and accusing people of a particular religion. We were not able to spend more time on the island as one has can spend only 45 minutes on the fort, they has to come back to the mainland on the same boat that they used to reach the fort.
On our way back we decided to pack lunches and have it in our room. Alankar and Siddesh brought 12 plates of Bhurji Pav which was finished in 15 minutes time by us. After a quick bath and altercations with the owner over room check out time we left Kashid at 4:00 pm.
Nitin and Dhiraj started this trend of giving names I am “Wise Ass” thanks to the enlightening post drink sessions, Nitin is “Old Monk” dedicated to his favorite brand, Dhiraj is “Pebbles” based on his ‘Rock’star image, Sandeep is “David” of the David and Goliath fame, Alankar is “Barbie” thanks to his requests for “Single” photographs and hence Siddesh got his name “Jane” for being Alankars ‘partner’.
As we approached Panvel the rain gods were again in mood to shower us their blessings. It started raining cats and dog the moment we reached Panvel. The raindrops seemed to be like rubber bullets it was getting irritating to ride in this weather. As we crossed New-Mumbai and entered Mumbai there were no signs of rains. Somehow even in those torrid condition Siddesh was able to ride at 60 kms/hr and reached Andheri station a good 40 minutes before us. Hence we decided to disperse and not meet at a common arrival location. Dhiraj decided to drop Sandeep at Goregoan and I decided to drop Nitin at Andheri Station. We made the switch of partners at Sher-e-Punjab. I would not have more than 100 meters that my bike started wobbling. As a final nail pierced the tyre my frustration grew, all I wanted was reach home as soon as possible so that I can have a nice bath and rest my acing ass. I asked Nitin to catch a rickshaw and leave, as he had to cover more distance than anyone of us. I wasted 50 more minutes in searching for a tyre shop and getting the puncture fixed.
Finally I reached home at 10:00 pm had dinner and was off to sleep with sound memories of a memorable trip!