Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Vacations are fun times------sometimes more than one bargains for!!!!Sudhir is the youngest in his family of four siblings---he has two sisters and one brother.While his sisters accompanied us sometimes their children always were a part of out trips-----having all the children together------nine of them between the four siblings------ used to be great fun!!!!
Milind,Sudhir's elder brother was a regular prankster----the poor children would be his target all the time.We'd pack all our stuff the day before and would wake up early the next morning---at dawn actually.By 6a.m. we'd hit the road---stopping at Matunga(a suburb of Mumbai) for a lovely hot Breakfast of steaming Idlis,crisp Dosais and piping hot Sambaar----after which we'd again hit the road.The way out of Mumbai towards Pune(Poona) is via the 3 circles----Jacob's Circle at Dadar T.T.,then King's Circle at Matunga and finally Sion Circle.Milind would start circling the Sion Circle---asking the poor kids to choose---either Mumbai or Pune!!!!The poor kids would then wilt and look very sad and their long faces would prompt him to proceed towards Pune.
Those days we had to pass through the steep Khandala Ghat----this was very steep and the road had an incline of 60 degrees at times.At the base of this mountainous road was Khopoli---famous for Batata(Potato) Vadas from Ramakanth Bhuvan---a must on every trip.A halt would be called while the entire contingent gorged on hot,crisp Vadas and their special Chutney.Hunger pangs satisfied faces would turn onwards---towards ascending the steep Ghat.
When we hit the Ghat after Khopoli Atya,my mother-in-law would start singing "Bhajans"(Hymns) and all the children would join in with gusto.There was a reason for this.The steep inclines of the Ghats had a way of heating up the engines of our cars--overloaded to the hilt with Adults,Children and loads of luggage!!!!All this created a need for Divine intervention ------to help reach the plateau at the top----Lonavala.So singing at the top of our voices we'd let out a full throated cheer once we crested the steep road.
At Lonavala we always had a mandatory stop---the Matka Kulfi available here was a must---and the regular query by Milind----each year he'd ask each Kulfi vendor the same question"Soma tumcha kon?" or "Are you related to Soma?"the Kulfi vendor would reply in the affirmative---saying that Soma was his maternal or paternal Uncle----at this Milind would look him up and down very solemnly and say"but you don't look like him!!!"The ready witted vendor would reply that he resembled his paternal or maternal side of the family---but he was related to Soma alright!!!!
With a good laugh we'd proceed further to Pune------eating Lunch here at a place called Shreyas---this serves excellent Vegetarian fare-----and sometimes broke our journey here for 3-4 days---sometimes we'd push on to Kolhapur---depended on the availibility of accomodation in Pune!!!After Pune the next stop would be Satara----here the children loved to ogle the antique taxis---each was a vintage piece in top running condition---ferrying people up the Ghats to Mahabaleshwar on the Pasarni Ghats.
We mostly had the six girls in our car---and I'd point out the various Forts lining the road----this was the heart of the Sahyadri Mountain Range---and the base of the warrior Maratha king,Shivaji's empire.The entire area is lush with Sugarcane fields and Vegetable farms----due to the rich loamy black soil!!!We'd reach Kolhapur as the Sun was setting----our Uncle would be there to greet us nd our journey would end on the lawns of Opal--enjoying the cool Summer breeze!!!!