Friday, August 13, 2010

Trip to Ekveera, Karla Caves and Tikona Fort

8th Aug 2010
‘Peellaan (plan) ke mutabik’

these words from Bhalla were enough for Teja’s face to go red with anger in Andaz Apna Apna. But!! We planned, planned and planned more for 3 weeks to go to Ekveera and Tikona Fort. This was supposed to be our 2nd trek after the mighty Harishchandragad near Malshej Ghat which had set my adrenaline pumping.

The initial plan was to stay overnight at Karjat at a friends place and then leave in the morning. Initially it was to be a group of 8 guys from Dombivali and 6 of us from office. We surfed the net, collected all the info, got excited by the amazing photos taken of these places, almost got inside google maps and could see ourselves gliding down the orange strip between Thane and Kamshet on google maps – what would we have done without the internet???? (A special thanks to Amit Kulkarni – we loved your pictures of Tikona and that partially inspired us to take the trek). Though, as happens usually, the usual people at the usual time in the most unusual way thought that they usually had better things to do and as usual they dropped off!! Long story short – after all the subtractions and divisions, Nagesh, Srinath (Chubby Cheeks), Kaushal (Major) and me were the last guys standing!!

Chubby stayed at my place on Saturday as he had come all packed up on Saturday. The overnight stay at Karjat had got cancelled. All four of us were to get together (Major from Matunga, Nagesh from Dombivali) at Thane and leave at 6:00 am sharp. The most eventful event happened at the very beginning of the trek. The moment I started my bike and asked Chubby to sit – TTTRRRRRRRRR – the cloth on his pants failed to expand as per the instructions of his expanding thighs and bum and gave way – ‘Shit! Majhi pant fatli’. I was worried he would want to change his pants as we were already getting late, but that didn’t happen and we met the others at Cadbury’s naaka. At the Airoli bridge, we had chai and then embarked on our journey…Chubby behind me and Nagesh behind Major.
After having missal paav and wada paav’s at Khopoli, we continued towards our destination. We had a photo session break at the Mumbai-Pune expressway at the bifurcation for Lonavala and Khandala and a little ahead we had another break as the scenery was really good. I guess on the left I could see Dukes Nose, below was our return path on the Mumbai Pune Expressway, and ahead lay the mountains of Lonavala. Some monkeys observed us from the distance and as they got closer, we decided it was time to leave. It’s a real pleasure to ride in the mountains inspite of the ups and downs. Lush greenery, clear blue sky, the fresh air are a welcome affair.

At around 8:30 – 9 a.m, we reached Ekveera, Karla Caves after taking a left on the road to Kamshet. It was over crowded and the on the way, the road was filled with drunkards who seemed to have started early or never stopped from the night before. We had difficulty finding a place to park our bikes, but finally we found a spot and allowed our bikes to doze off a bit. We took the road up instead of the stairs to Ekveera. Chubby was on steam as he couldn’t find a place to answer Natures call. Half way up, Chubby’s prayers were answered and after he returned, we continued our way to the top on the stairs. It was really crowded as the place was full of worshippers. We decided en-route that if we stand in line to get a chance to enter the temple, it will get very late; hence we were to take our blessings from outside. The Karla caves in the background of the Ekveera temple is a beautiful site to see. You HAVE to stop and think for a while about the artisans and people who carve these caves out of a mountain and turn them into such grandeur. It was very dark inside the chaitya. The dome shaped stupa and the carvings inside were beautiful. The lion pillar outside was equally a sight. It gives you an amazing feeling to go into restrospect and think about the period when Buddhist followers used to stay and pray in these caves. Near the stupa, we saw a strange sight. People were throwing coins and some kids were behind were fighting to collect them in the darkness with a small torch in their hands. Guys…please preserve the place!! Coming out of the main cave with the stupa, we visited other smaller ones the right side of the Mandir. It is said that (Nagesh Baba said that) in one such cave, if you make a wish and a drop of water falls from the roof, then your wish will definitely be fulfilled by Chitala Devi. We did go to that cave and there was this old woman sitting at the corner of the cave and their was saffron smeared on one end of the cave walls. She asked us to make wishes and prayed for us. Nagesh was the one to make the wish and just when he commented ‘ Lagta hai Devi naraaz hai’ – he was rewarded by a drop of water. So we know for sure, his wish is gonna get fulfilled. We were the unlucky ones, rather paapi ones – no droplets for us. After paying homage and roaming a bit on the top, enjoying the waterfall near the main cave and clicking pics, we started on our descent. Once down, I clicked some pictures of a woman selling hens in a tokri. People buy them as sacrifices to the Devi. While having chai, we decided to skip lunch and get to Tikona Peth, the forts base first as we were already running late and didn’t want to end up riding in the dark. On the way back, the ‘Gataari’ element was in full bloom as we passed ‘fully tuun bewdas’ in the middle of the road. They were completely high and weren’t moving even if brought trucks to their faces. We were looking out for Mr.Wahlekar as he was also in Lonavala with his friends, celebrating Gataari.

From Kamshet, we took a right towards Pawna dam. Riding through villages and muddy roads in between, we got up the ghat to the final ride towards the forts base. We stopped at a spot near a tower….we HAD to…the scenery was completely breathtaking…great…simply great…a sight to treasure…something that no camera can capture…a thing that completely belonged to that moment!!! Beyond the Pawna dam was the Tung fort like a hat kept on the water. Nagesh describes it as a submarine. Tikona fort was also clearly visible. We clicked a lot of photographs with Tung and Tikona in the backgrounds. The climate was also very good with lots of breeze and it wasn’t feeling hot even though it didn’t rain. Clicked lots of photos of my bike. It was the perfect location for the Avenger ad. – Feel like GOD!! After satiating ourselves of the surroundings, we jumped on our bikes for the final destination – Tikona killa. We kept our bikes near the Mandir at the base and started our trek at around 3:00 pm. The initial walk was through muddy sludge and in no time our floaters and legs were submerged in ankle wide mud. We could hear voices coming down the hill and knew we were in the right path, but we did miss a shorter route. Sloshing merrily, after a while the ascent started. The climb was enjoyable and the scenery was simply beautiful. We came across a group of kids with their Sir coming down. It felt good to see children coming for such treks on a Sunday instead of watching movies and playing video games. It seemed we were the last group going up as every one else was getting down. That gave us an idea that we should hurry up, else it would get dark soon and would be difficult getting down. We were accompanied on our way up by 3 sardarjis. On the way up the first cave, we stopped at a small shelter where a ‘mawshi’ was selling tea and pakodas. We settled for tea. There was another cave nearby which was painted red and occupied by a Sadhu Baba and had a pond in front – really nice. The last climb is a bit dangerous and steep, especially in the rain as it gets slippery. Again we came across one or two families and all of us got a chance to give them a helping hand. Reaching the top felt so fulfilling. It was simply beautiful and we got a real blessing from the skies above when we saw a complete RAINBOW. I don’t even remember when was the last time I saw one. It was a panoramic view. We could see the path we came from…the entire region below. We now understood why this was such a strategic location. One thing I noticed and found amusing was that all the temple tops we could see from there looked almost identical. At the summit, there is a small yet beautiful Trimbakeshwar Mandir with a small Nandi bull outside. Below the temple were small pathways heading below - ‘Chor vaats’, which might have been for storage. There is a pond at the top, a little behind the temple and behind the pond, the scenery is again breathtaking. One can see Lohagad from there. The fort was left all to us and the Sardarjis as there was no one else. After our photo session, we started downwards, and after having chai and kanda bhajis at Mawshi’s, we (Major and Nagesh) found the short cut that we had missed and after Majors’ certification that it was relatively safe, we took that route. It was a bit slippery but okay. Chubby fell once on the way down and it was a Kodak moment. His instantaneous reaction was putting his hands up and saying ‘Jai Maharashtra’. We spent a little time at Pawna dam watching the sunset - another sight not to miss.

Heading home, we did what we dreaded i.e. ride at night, and believe me it’s not a very enjoyable experience and is not safe at all. Could hardly see the road ahead of us and with lights blinding your eyes, no street lights, it’s very very difficult to ride, especially in the rains – please avoid. Anyway, after buying chikis and fudges at Lonavala and later having dinner at Malwani's, we were on our way. On the way, at the near the Sion flyover, which we took by mistake, saw a very sorry sight - a decent looking guy, highly intoxicated was walking naked in the middle of the highway. Don’t know what’s happened of him – prayed for him – guys avoid things you can’t handle. We eventually reached Thane at around 12:10 pm. Another expedition came to an end!!

Thanks to Nagesh, Kaushal and Srinath for making it happen as it almost got cancelled. Cheers!! Start planning for the next one….

Kahaani khatam hai, ya shuruat hone ko hai
Subah nayee hai ye, ya raat hone ko hai!!

Friday, November 2, 2007


It rained yesterday....unexpectedly...just like that...aive hi...bas gira to gira...
The sky was gloomy since morning, but hadn't expected it to pour.
For a change, I left office early and planned to catch the 7:04 Thane fast local. It wasn't raining as I walked to VT station.
Fortunately I did catch the 7:04 local, also got a window seat(lucky me!!).The train started at a brisk pace and I tried to put myself to sleep.After about half an hour, my brain suddenly instructed my eyes to open due to the pain in my foot as a result of a semi-giant stepping on it; and after exhanging the usual glares and 'sorry' and 'its ok', I realised that the train was dozing too!! It had hardly crossed 2-3 stations and it was supposed to be a fast(haha) train.

It seemed the signals had failed. Expected!!
Rains unexpected...signals failing due to rains...expected or unexpected??
Seems like our guys are never prepared for anything unexpected

But then are we?? Am I? Are you?

PN: It takes 40 mins to cover the distance from VT to Thane and I was stranded for one and a complete half hour in the train, needless to say with hundreds(exagerating, who me? not at all) of sweaty, frustrated fellow travellers.

Photo courtesy :

Friday, October 26, 2007

Back to School (Pawaskar)

The human database christened the brain amazes me to the limit. It's idiotically funny how I tend to forget a lot of things but some past impressions are so deeply engraved that the visualizations appear in a crystal clear picture, just the way they happened years ago.

My grandfather (mom's dad) expired when I was upgraded to the 8th standard. I was there in kolkata then and had to extend my usual summer holidays by 2 weeks due to the incident. If most of you remember, 8th standard is when you get to choose between your alternate language in school. Some have an option between Marathi and Sanskrit, and others have French added to this list. We had to opt between Marathi and Sanskrit, the latter being more popular as you could score maximum marks since it was an extremely rattofyable subject.
My being away when school reopened didn't allow me to choose and I was put in the Marathi class, which I somehow felt happy about then and now too.

Our class, in general had also got reshuffled. So the day I entered, I saw some pretty new faces. Some, I knew because we used to meet them on the football ground and had many matches and fights in common. Very soon, I understood that I had moved from one blacklisted class to another one, the magnitude of blackness yet to be measured.

Apart from the new faces, also were friends who were carried forward with me together. Among them was Sonia, one of my very good friends. It so happened that a seat was reserved for me, 2nd last row to the left from the door, 2nd last seat in that row. Quite unrealistic seat for me since I was relatively short then (not that I am extremely tall now). Sonia was seated behind me, the last seat verily assigned to her since she was and still is very near to a 'she giraffe'.

In 15 minutes, she introduced me to the entire class, not literally though!! Ye class D me thi, arre usko pehchaana kya, wo kaafi intelligent hai, isko kuch nahi aata, ye bahut baat karti hai, she has become my good friend...traits were defined and distributed unevenly. I said hello to them in my mind.

The bell rang. Geography text books came out of each bag. If you remember, we had those long and wide geography text books then which refused to fit in our bags.
"Good morning maaam" half standing, half sitting everybody chorused.
"Good morning", round faced, airy attitude, hugging books, chalks in hand, a roundly round bindi, slightly crumpled off white sari, crimson bordered, historically walked in Mrs. Geography (control, control, no names)
"Ye kaun hai", I whispered, talking backwards, looking forwards.
"Mrs. Geography", Sonia answered,
"Thodi strict hai, lekin she teaches well"
, I said.

As the screeching chalk attacked the childly eardrums and while planets were statically revolving round on the chalkboard universe, Sonia tapped me on the back.
"Woh dekh"
"Kya", I tried to see what she was seeing.
"Udhar, 1st bench pe", she secretly smiled.
"Abe woh to so raha hai"
As we were trying very hard to suppress our tickling stomachs to tickle our esophagus, bending forward, hiding our faces to hide our smirks, we didn't notice the stopping of the chalk screeches. Only when a few innocent (oh come on, not so innocent) heads turned with gesturing eyes claiming us as guilty, did we understand that the geographical universe had closed down on us and somehow a horizontal gravity pulled our faces to face Mrs. Geography as she bore her not so chilly, yet chilly gaze into us.
"STAND UP!!” the lioness roared "What’s so funny?"
Trembling legs, weak knees attempted to stand, stood.
"Nothing Mam"
"So you were smiling, laughing for nothing?" sarcasm spoke.
Fortunately or unfortunately the tall Sonia hid behind me.
"Ok out with it, why were you laughing?"
"Nothing Mam...I.err...nothing mam", my vocabulary got restricted.
"Tell me the reason, else I will not continue with the class", she thundered.
Pairs of eyes followed the invisible tennis ball between Mrs. Geography and me. Necks turned this way and then that way.
Silence prevailed indefinitely for a few minutes. My shoes, my canvases were never zoomed in as minutely as they were that very day.
"I am still waiting...the whole class is suffering because of you. LOOK UP, what are you looking down for? Come on, quick, out with it..."
I dared to look up "Maam, actually...."
"Yes I'm, we are listening", she said
"Maam, actually.....Pawas...he he ha ha ha ha", I unknowingly burst out laughing.
Shocked pairs of eyes penetrated me.
"Maam, Pawas was...he he he hey hey hey haa ha ha...” uncontrollably, I burst into fits of laughter.
Mrs. Geography couldn’t believe what was happening, but she stood silently, her raging eyes doing the speaking.
"He he ha ha ha hoo hoo" I was unstoppable and so was the class by now.
"He he ha ha ha He he ha ha ha He he ha ha ha He he ha ha ha"
"He he ha ha ha He he ha ha ha He he ha ha ha hoo hoo hoo"

The whole class was in splits, in fits. This was getting too much for Mrs. Geography though she was also trying very hard to resist bursting into laughter.
"ENOUGH" she roared "THAT’S ENOUGH. Either you tell me the reason, and now it rather be a good one or I'll throw you out of the class and never take you in. This is the first class of mine you are attending and this is how you behave."

Her words didn't matter anymore, nor did the brutal consequence as I had no hold over myself now.
"Maam, maaam...he he ha ha ha He he ha ha ha He he"
Finally the lost words found me.
"Maam, actually Pawaskar was sleeping....He he ha ha ha He he ha ha ha He he ha ha ha hoo hoo hoo"
"He he ha ha ha He he ha ha ha He he ha ha ha hoo hoo hoo"
"He he ha ha ha He he ha ha ha He he ha ha ha hoo hoo hoo"
"Haa haa ha ha ha He he ha ha ha He he ha ha ha hoo hoo hoo"

The whole class including Mrs. Geography went berserk.

After some time when we couldn’t laugh anymore and found our voices back, Mrs. Geography spoke, boring her eyes on the now very much awake Pawaskar.
"Well it's Pawaskar who is to blame then...." she smiled "Sit down"

Pawaskar and I were good friends later!!!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Eye of the devil

This is how my right eye is looking today. Won't be long before my left eye also gets the same tinge.
Suffering from conjunctivitis. Guess must have got it from someone in office:(:(

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Entertainers

Everybody and anybody today know why MS Dhoni is so good and why he deserves to be a captain. On television, cheap comparisons are being made between why Dravid fails and why Dhoni doesn't. He's got brains, he's a great decision maker, he's young, he's a great achiever, he's got no fear, in short he's being made out to be the future GOD of Indian cricket. I have nothing against Dhoni or Dravid, but against the media who creates a hullabaloo over almost everything, especially some of the stupid Hindi news channels.

Tomorrow, we lose 2 matches, and the same great analyzers will be the first to pinch his butt.

However, this 20-20 world cup has brought me back to the game.... watching it, I mean, in fact the last 3 matches against Pakistan, Australia and Pakistan again. No matter, which players form a part of the team, or whom they are playing against; the Indian team was and will always be the best entertainers. Everyone who has watched this series must have observed that in every game we were almost winning with a ball-run difference of 30-35, then 1 bad over and we are on the verge of losing it all, then 1 wicket and we are back, then 1 six and all our faces are hung, a cheeky shot and a catch and we are holding the world cup...a person with a weak heart should never watch India's matches, particularly the one's against Pakistan. India definitely has dug out a lot of young and hidden talent in the form of Gambhir, Rohit Sharma, RP Singh and Shreesanth. The best part of the matches was to see the boys all geared up and the always-missing killer instinct was evident this time around. Way to go Dhoni, Yuvraj and team.... happy winning!!!

I saw the finals in my office. Earlier in the day, below my office I saw a couple of firangs with small dhols/bongo's on their shoulders. I wanted to ask them where they bought it from coz I wanted one too for my bhanja. Luck smiled as we went down to feast on 'bhel and chai' after India's batting when a couple of guys were passing by with those dhols on their shoulders. So bought one, and my friends and me were beating it to pulp with the fall of every Pakistani wicket!! Chak de India!!!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

just pissed off

"The more importance you give someone, the more you are taken for granted and the more you are given that airy attitude. You wish to choose life and it runs afar. The clue, i guess is to divert and find happiness in other means, forms and channels, especially when you know you are screwed...."

Friday, September 21, 2007

Utsab - The festival

As I watched 'Utsab' yet again, thought of writing my first movie review about this beautiful piece of art and emotions.

'Chokher Bali' was the movie that made me fall in love with Rituparno Ghosh's works. He embodies meticulous direction and portrays perfectly the panoramic nuances of characters, giving life to their emotions, gloriously shouting out the hidden, intricate feelings; the implicit readings between life's complex paragraphs.

Too many characters yet so distinguishably and admirably defined. 'Utsab' revolves round a family who have got together to celebrate 'Durga Puja', maybe for the last time in their 'pushtaani' house, which they have plans to sell out. The family has come together to enjoy the togetherness, but somehow the threads of their lives are so entangled in the complexities of life that their problems seems to weigh more than their happiness, as it almost always does. The family includes an old mother, 2 married sons with their own kids, 2 married daughters, none of them being actually happy in their lives.

Every character has their own problems, but painstakingly they move ahead and have adapted to them, or at least they try. The togetherness gives them an outlet to their individual frustrations because they know they are going to be heard, by someone at the least. The younger son has almost lost his job due to a strike and lockout in his company. He thinks his wife has no idea about it, but she is well aware of the turmoil that her husband is going through, but prefers silence in spite of she being the most straightforward person in the family. The younger daughter is going through a disturbed marriage, which is on the verge of a separation. The elder daughter too has a disturbed marriage, her old love being the reason for the weathered waters. Against her wishes, she has been married off by her family to a rich guy, her love for her poor cousin lost and embedded in her heart. Her husband taunts her regularly on the issue though she has left the episode much behind in her life. She is under the impression that her grown up son has no idea about the subject of their fights, though he very well is!! And to top it, he also is all set to tread on the same path his mother had put foot on. He is inclined towards the beautiful Shompa (his cousin and daughter of the eldest son in the movie).

The cinematography of the entire movie is just too good!! Everything in this movie presents a typical Kolkata's Bengali family, so if you wish to get a taste or small glimpse of the Bengali culture, this should movie is recommended for you.

Favourite scenes from the movie:
** The very first scene where the grandson is asking the shilpkar about the idols of ganesha and kartika.
** The brothers smoking together and the elder one asking the younger 'but you used to smoke a videshi brand, right??'
** Ashtami pooja scene
** Elder daughters confrontation with her past affair.
** Shompa's walk in the corridor with the tokri of flowers(what a beautiful girl...what a beautiful face....) and her grandma and father in general conversation.
** Shompa's song 'Amolo dhobolo'(her face is dipped in typical beautiful 'bong'ness)
** The vegetable cutting scene between the 2 daughters and elder bhabhi.

PN: If anybody has any other references of Arpita Pal (Shompa) in the movie, pleeease feel free to share. Hunted on the net, but all I could gather was 2 pics and 1-2 other movies she's acted in.