Sunday, January 22, 2012
Lonavala has always been a favourite Family Getaway---a place where Sudhir and I escaped to with the Girls often when they were very young and even as they grew older it remained a hit place for us.This was because firstly it is very conveniently situated just about 2 hours away then---and barely 1 hour 30 minutes today from Mumbai---so always has been easily accessible---even for short trips.Besides in those days it sported a thick Green cover---and in Summer too remained extremely cool and pleasant--providing us the much needed relief from the sweltering Mumbai--then Bombay Summers.Besides it was a rustic place--a small Hamlet or Village if you like---and therefore the ideal place to relax and unwind.
A Client of Sudhir's had a Cottage there set in a huge Orchard full of various varieties of Fruit Trees---there were sweet,juicy White and Pink "Jaam" Trees,Jackfruit,Mango and the prolific "Jaamun" Tree---literally so laden with sweet, juicy Purple Fruit that it would bend over under the weight!!! We'd hire this for 15-21 days from them and stay there--just lazing around,reading Books and playing Carrom or Scrabble/Boggle---those were really restful Vacations!!!They had a "Maali" or Gardener who was a fabulous Cook so this was a true Vacation for me---everything from early morning Tea was taken care of!!The most enjoyable experience there was eating the "Matka" Kulfi----the Vendors would come calling every evening at the door--Earthern Pots of these balanced on their heads.The taste of this Indian Ice Cream still lingers on my tongue---and I still marvel at the ingenious way they managed to freeze these!!!It used to be like a Sacred Ritual---the Vendor would carefully lay his Pot on the Ground,slowly untie the Red Cloth covering the mouth of the Pot---reach into the Pot to remove a thin Aluminium Cone----scrape away at the lid---and then unmould the conical Ice Cream---made with thick evaporated Milk,Sugar and different Flavours----onto a freshly washed beautiful Green Leaf larger than a Plate---cut the frozen Cone into 5-7 circular discs-----and then offer the Leaf to the Customer to taste---and savour!!!Trust me--one was never enough---for this simply melted in the mouth leaving one craving more!!!
The Trip on Friday was vastly different from those ones---Lonavala today has grown tremendously in size---and most of the Green Cover is gone---the Landscape today is dotted with Week End Homes---set in individual plots of Land or gated Complexes with all the modern amenities like Swimming Pools,restaurants and all the other Trappings of today's living.The only thing that still remains today is the peace and quiet of the earlier days.Pushpa's Bungalow is a lovely and spacious one---set in a beautifully maintained Garden. It was a very new experience to be there with my Friends---for after the School Pic Nics I had attended as a child it was the first time that I stayed away from the house without Sudhir and that too for an entire day!!!The Day began at 8 a.m.---when all of us gathered in the Street outside our Complex and boarded the Bus---a huge 24 Seater for just the 12 of us!!!Once we hit the Road and cleared the Outskirts of Mumbai we ate a lovely Breakfast--Vegetable Cutlets,Chutney and Cheese Sandwiches---stopping only at the Golden Arches for glasses of hot,freshly brewed Tea---and once that was done---with our Batteries freshly charged---the Fun and Games began!!There was a game of singing 'Antakshari"---a game in which two Teams play against each---answering the challenge of their Adversaries with Songs beginning with the last letter of the earlier one.This is a very fast paced Game----and the first to flounder is the one who gets Minus points--and the one who flounders most loses!!!What a cacophony there was----at least 4 Indian Languages flying about---Hindi,Marathi,Gujarati and Konkani----for both Teams wanted to win!!This continued till we all ran out of breath---and declared a Draw!!!Once in Lonavala we played a few other Games before Lunch---and replete with the tasty Lunch settled down in the spacious Porch to exchange tall stories and Jokes-----it was a truly enjoyable afternoon.
Everyone was pleasantly tired on the way home---and rode home chatting to each other and listening to the popular Hindi Songs of a by gone Era---drowning in the Nostalgia of Yester Years.Reaching home at 8 p.m. we ate a light Dinner---and drifted off by 9p.m.---completely tuckered out---tired but happy!!!