Monday, April 21, 2014
We're Never Gonna Survive, Unless We Get A Little Crazy...
“I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake.” Robert Louis Stevenson couldn’t have echoed my thoughts any better. The bug of wanderlust had been implanted in me when I was very young, thanks to my father. I remember every year we would take this grand trip to some part of the country; it was a majestic affair. But those were different days, and these are different days. I grew up, moved out and am now traveling all by myself with a mate. This is the third trip that we took in less than a year. While all three of the trips have been short ones, mostly over extended weekends, but the aching legs, the dirty laundry, the worn out shoes, the insect bites, the empty wallets that the trips have culminated in, have been profoundly satisfying.
The one thing that I absolutely desperately miss in Mumbai is the capacity to walk around freely. My friend and I often lament about the lack of space to move or walk around freely in the city. So we try and tame these longings of walking around and then let them free during the trips. On this recent trip to Mahabaleshwar, we let our fancy of walking run amok and ended up walking 15km, give or take in two days. We walked under the blazing sun, we walked in the drizzle, we walked under a cloudy sky, it didn’t matter to us what the condition was, we just walked.
The trip served both of us as a nice break from the city. Don’t get me wrong, both us love Mumbai, but one has to turn away from it on occasion to appreciate it more. The trip was a sudden plan and it happened to coincide delightfully with the ‘Strawberry Festival’ at the Mapro Gardens. We were thrilled as we were greeted with free bowls of strawberries and mulberries; we hadn’t expected such hospitality at a festival.
At Panchgani, we decided to do the entire table top plateau on foot. We were enthusiastic and brimming with energy and excitement for having found the opportunity to walk around such a huge open space. The experience of the entire walk under a blazing sun would have been surreal had we not been robbed by a water bottle robber. Yes, our bottle of water, which I had set down to investigate a cave, was robbed by someone. I had set down the bottle and went down the steps, cut out crudely at the side of the mountain, which made climbing down the stairs, without the use of your two hands to hold onto something for your dear life, a little risky. I grumbled for a while as my friend tried to pacify me, with her logic that probably the thief was thirstier than we were but after a while she gave up. She said if you want to go on grumbling for the rest of the walk, then let’s break up and walk separately. Well, I didn’t want that of course so I shut up immediately. I am happy to announce the rest of the walk was very pleasant indeed.
After the taxi dropped us off at our hotel, we realized that we were short of cash. And the nearest ATM was 2km away, in the main market. So we set off on foot, gleeful at the opportunity of another walk. We walked all the way to the main market and found it to be a colourful and vibrant place. We congratulated each other for undertaking the walk for we would have surely missed the sights of the market. We roamed about the streets for a while before setting off again for our hotel. It started drizzling, but that didn’t deter us from completing our 5km walk. We marched on and our painful calf muscles are our proud war wounds. But we didn’t stop there. While nursing our sore legs and enjoying the cool breeze at night, we hit another crazy idea: we would walk the 2km with our rucksacks, up and down the hill to the bus stop. When we were checking out the manager kindly offered us to book a cab, but we vigorously shook our heads and said we were going to walk to the stop. It is needless to say, the poor guy looked very surprised and I think I also detected a hint of bewilderment. No one sane decides to walk 2km in the sun with a rucksack, up and down a hill just because they were deprived of walking for three months.