Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Santa is here...

Happy Birthday Jesus

Christmas - the day when Jesus came to this world. One of the most famous and important festival celebrate all across the world. Its that time of the year when diets are meant to be forgotten and you are supposed to feast on cakes, sweets and how can I forget my favorite Goan Wine???
Having said all this... Christmas is not all about indulging in parties. Rather it is about sharing with someone who is not as fortunate as you are. And there is one person who is expected to do all this good work. Our very own Santa. Do you know Santa?? Well... St. Nicholas, popularly known as Santa Claus, was a son born to wealthy parents. However, after his parents death, he donated all his wealth amongst the needy, the poor and the sick.
Known for his affection towards children, he visits them every Christmas Eve. Children hang their stockings with their wishlist expecting that Santa will fill it up with goodies in the middle of the night. As Santa can't be everywhere.. we all know that it is the parents who are Santas of millions of children across the globe.
Don't you wish you could do the same today??? Like - make a wishlist and wait for Santa to fulfill all your wishes. How would your wishlist be like?

Do think about it... Maybe Santa reads this and your wishes come true... Merry Christmas to you all...

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Aati kya Khandala???

Back after a long time… Wasn’t hibernating… It’s just that life got a little busy. Also, couldn’t find anything new to write about… But after a long time… the Animal Kingdom set out for a trek again… Thanks to ME…

I can see some twitched noses and flaring nostrils… But truth cannot be concealed under a shroud... and rains cannot be held by a cloud… *raising an eyebrow* Wow!!! That’s a nice Denzilism… am I not sounding more like a narcissist today???

OK guys… Enough of Me, Myself and Denzil. You can ignore me for some time now while I take you on a trip to Rajmachi in Khandala… Aye.. Aati kya Khandala??? Khandala – A place made quite famous by an equally famous song sung by Amir Khan.

How did trek to Khandala happen??? A conference call, a bunch of confused animals, a mute spectator (Tarun), a amplifier - Atul (Vicks ki Goli) and the STD booth owner - who else but me???? 60 minutes into the conference call… and we were yet to finalize the group who was ready to come for the trek… Leave alone the place... That was yet undecided...

Finally at around midnight… after 60 minutes of uneventful talk... we decided the place – Rajmachi- somewhere near Khandala. I just had 3 hours of precious sleep to catch on. My Titan alarm woke me up at 5:30 in the morning. My mom was a little surprised and more confused. As usual, I chose not to keep her informed till the last minute. How could I inform her when I myself did not know about the trek until 4 hours back????

On my way to the TMT bus stop, I called my Bawa and Tarun and as expected, they turned up late. What was surprising is Bawa turned up without even a bag on his shoulders. Now, how was one expected to survive the heat and the tough trek journey without even a bottle of water???

Deepika, the lone gal in our group had decided to accompany us for the trek. I must admit that we warned her in advance and gave her a list of "To Do" and "What not to Do" when with us.
1. Thou shall not do any nakhras when with us.
2. Thou shall eat in whichever hotel or dhaba we chose to.
3. Thou shall not complain of dust or heat.
4. Thou shall keep walking and ask no questions.

We reached Thane station at 7:20 a.m, and thought that we missed the Intercity Express by 5 minutes. But little did we know that long distance trains seldom arrive on time. So, tickets were booked for Koyna Express. Needless to say... the journey from Thane to Khandala was fun and frolic all the way. It was made even more amusing by calls from "Vicks ki Goli" every 15 minutes.

Atul had missed the train and every 15 minutes he kept asking the same question, "Where have you guys reached? Should I leave now? I will catch u guys at Khandala..." Finally, after an hour he left for Khandala all alone to meet us at Rajmachi.

Khandala Railway Station

Walking all the way... soon we reached the famous Tiger Valley. This place offers a breathtaking view of the Mumbai Pune Expressway. What a marvellous piece of engineering!!! You can see a combination of tunnels and fly overs.

Pune Expressway

A 15 mins walk later.. we came acoss a small pathway which took us towards a valley.

Betal hanging on the tree

A scene from "Yeh Dosti Hum nahi Chodenge..."

Soon, we spotted a cool and cosy place. We decided to wait for Vicks ki Goli here. However, he was still a long way away. So, we decided to continue the adventure further. As luck would have it, the road through the valley and the jungle came to an abrupt end. The only way possible was to turn down and take the railway tracks.

Wannabe Models???

Walking on the railway tracks running through the jungle is not what you get to see everyday. Raliway tracks and wannabe models make a good combination and you have the digital camera flashing every minute. I bet Naveen missed this one. Just next to the tracks was a steep staircase running to the bottom of a small valley. Myself, Tarun and Deepika made our way downstairs and came across a fallen tree which once provided shade but today obstructed the path and made a lovely background for a snap.

Some snaps later, it was time to call Atul again. He was still a long way off. So, we resumed our journey towards what we thought was the fort - FORT RAJMACHI. Making our way through the dried grass and green jungles we saw a glimpse of the "Fort". The view was something similar to a child's painting. A hill with some steps running towards the top. Exactly the same. Anna, Tarun and Salli went up the Hill...

To the Top

Steps on the Hill

The view at the top surprised us all. There was no fort here nor any caves. Just a magnificient mammoth weathered rock stood there like a wall blocking our way. The view from the top was amazing. You could see the rails running below through the hill and as small river running somewhere in the jungle. We also spotted a water fall spouting water a far distance away.

View from the Top

This was the place to be. Serene and quiet. A place where you can spend hours on end. After spending some time here and enacting a scane from Sholay - Bawa played Jai, Anna - Gabbar and Deepika - Basanti, it was time to head back. Mr. Late Latif Atul had taken all the efforts for the trek and had finally reached the Tiger Valley.

When we reached there, he was busy making golas as the golawala was missing from the scene. What a sight it was!!! But on second thoughts Atul can try out his hand as Golawala. He makes some good Golas.

Myself, Anna and Atul with the Gola wala in the background

After having our lunch (it was more of snacks) - Misal Pav, Uttapas, Wada Sambhar, Appy, Frooti - was all the food the hotel stocked, we decided to rest our tired legs under the canopy of some beautiful trees in the adjacent garden inhabitated by some amusing monkeys.

The monkeys befriended the Animal Kingdom without much efforts and one even managed to grab Bhutta from Salli's hands as a token of friendship. According to Bawa - that monkey was Kabile ka Sardar - Leader of the Gang.

Cliff View

We watched the sunset, Shahrukh's bungalow - from the garden and some beautiful gals in the garden. We could have spent much more time here but since, we had a train to catch, we set out on our way home. Bawa bought some guavas, berries and some bhuttas for the journey.

Our - Keep Walking - mantra brought us to the Khandala Railway Station. The train we were reckoned to catch had departed on time. (Our theorem - Long distance trains never arrive on time - had been proved wrong). The next train was scheduled after 90 minutes. So, we returned back to the highway to catch some luxury bus. But God had some better plans for us. He sent us an Toyota Innova. Paying just Rs. 50 per head we arrived back in Mumbai.

Smiles all around

Moral of the trek - Life is like MTV- ENJOY