Friday, August 14, 2009

Lonavala Picnic with the Schneider team

We were planning for a Getaway picnic since long but somehow it was not working out. The project never took off & always remained a mere plan waiting to be executed, no matter how we planned. But this time we were adamant it happens. During the Lunch discussions we discussed about it & made sure the buzz is on. Deciding the location was easy, within no time we zeroed in on Lonavala, Mumbaikar’s favourite spot for rainy trips. The team was given an ultimatum that no drop outs would be allowed. The likely drop outs were bought in by zealous follow ups by everybody. They were told what they were to miss if they drop out. The planned date was adjusted to make sure it suits everybody. We asked people to bring in the spouses too, to chuck out another excuse for opting out. We decided the date to be 11 July Saturday for obvious reasons. Thinking that it would allow people to relax on Sunday 12 July. But it was not to be, Maggie was not available on Saturday hence she requested to make it to Sunday. Nobody objected hence Sunday 12 July was decided to be the final date. The likely budget was decided & likewise the expenses per participant. Everybody was informed about their pickup points & that ended the planning phase. We did found a couple of bugs in the planning phase. We still had drop-outs. Imran had to attend to some urgent business at home & that left him out along with his spouse. Finally we were a team of 11 people. Another bug was contribution was not received from all. Some jokingly said the contribution would be paid proportionate with the enjoyment.
The planning was over & the D day arrived. We started at exactly 7:00 AM from my home in Kores nakshatra society, Thane. Shabbir, Mildred & Maggie were to be picked up from Teen hath naka square in Thane, on reaching there we realized they were holding a marathon race & as a result the square was swarming with people. But it’s difficult to miss Shabbir even in a crowd & with a couple of calls Shabbir & Maggie were in the Bus. Mildred was also easy to find because of her distinct wind cheater. One pick up point was done with; we started on our planned route. But you can always count on Shobhan for surprises. He called up Shabbir & informed he would be reaching Airoli fly over which was not at all on the planned route. There was no option, we changed the route & started towards Airoli fly over, and that would mean two additional toll booths. The team unanimously decided Shobhan would have to pay the toll at all the toll booths on the way. When we reached the Airoli fly over we had our morning cup of tea. We were receiving anxious calls from Shashwat & Prakash. Poor Shashwat was waiting at his pickup point since more than 45 minutes & Prakash was waiting at home only which was just 10 minutes away. We called up Shobhan to know his where abouts. He claimed he was near a fly over & could see the fly over from where he was. Now we were not sure which fly over he was talking about. There are so many of them in Mumbai. Finally, Shobhan arrived after a good 10-15 minutes. And with him also arrived the rains. It was the first rain of the day & it made us all happy, rains being the important part of the Trip. Later there were no hiccups about delay & when Shashwat got in we were 11 in a 17 seater bus. It was better as the last row was taking care of all the baggage.
In the Bus it was a fun-tastic scene. Some were playing the good old antakshari with all gusto. Some were pulling legs of each other & some were munching whatever they could lay their hands on. In all the melly Suyash spotted the Sun which was hiding behind the clouds all this while & yelled out in Hindi “dekho Dhoop”. The moment he said that the team was after him because pointing out the Sun shine was politically incorrect on a rainy trip. It was time for Suyash to learn his lesson. In no time we were out of Panvel. It was time for some snacks. We caught some Vadapavs at the famous Datta snacks. We took the old Pune highway via the criss-crossing Borghat. Borghat was in a different world today. The bus was plying through the clouds. There were waterfalls everywhere. We got through the old tunnel & the Milky Kune falls was right there in the valley on the left side of the highway. The highway is a bit wider at this particular spot. We stopped the Bus & got out to please our eye balls. The scenic sahyadri was wearing its best greens today. The cameras were out & with some clicks we resumed our journey to Bhushi dam, our final destination in Lonavala. In a short while we crossed the Lonavala Bus stop & turned towards Bhushi dam. The climate was very good. There was no sun shine & it was all cloudy. The tatas dam was a wonderful site. Every time a water fall would be spotted, the team would cry their Lungs out yelling “water fall”. Finally we reached near the Bhushi dam. It was all crowded & there was no space for parking. While looking for a parking space we went a bit away & decided to go towards the Tiger hills instead. Bhushi dam was pushed away on the priority list. The road to tiger hills was a steep one but it was worth the efforts. We reached the Tiger hills & got out of the Bus. We were welcome by a rush of heavy rains & everybody got wet. Prakash was worried for his spouse & opened the Umbrellas. The rain slowed down & finally we could get a viewing. We were on the upper side of a waterfall & could see the stream which was the source of that waterfall. The clouds were everywhere around us the visibility was not more than 2 meters. It was a scene straight out of dreams. We were actually among the clouds & could touch them. Everybody got into the water for some time & suddenly Mildred had a brain wave. She suggested, let’s walk in the clouds to Bhushi dam. It sounded like a crazy idea & Prakash thought it was not a good idea at all. Never the less we instructed the Bus driver to follow after a while & started walking towards Bhushi dam. It was literally a Walk in the Clouds. The happiness was telling on everybody’s face. I had never seen so many talking smilys at one place. The team did a good beat of advertising for the new Movie Kamine. The title song of the movie was quite a hit with the team. The team was yelling out "Dhan Te Na" with full use of their vocal cords. Even some of the passers- by picked up the yelling & responded with the same. I recorded some of those yelling sessions; they are good memorabilia of the trip.Prakash & Ranu were walking hand in hand; some even suspected they were whispering sweet nothings to each other. They were nicknamed a Honeymoon couple. On our way we spotted an old Car lying by the road side. The only remains of the Car were its body. It wore an antique look. The team took some snaps around the car as if they were on a movie shooting schedule. With the old car in the background, some of the snaps really look as if they were from a movie shoot. By that time the Bus caught up with us & we all hopped on to the Bus. At the Bhushi dam parking rates was sky rocketing. Somehow we found a parking space. We all got out & started towards the Bhushi dam. The Bhushi dam Overflow is the high point of a rainy trip but it was not overflowing. Hence we decided to go to the sources of Bhushi dam. We could see some big waterfalls at a distance not more than half a mile. We took a detour from the Bhushi dam & wend behind the dam. In another 5-10 minutes we were in a stream of water. This stream was the output of a big waterfall. Except Ranu & Shabbir everybody got wet. We all played water games in the stream. Shobhan got himself immersed in water multiple times. It seems he was taking a bath of the lifetime. Shashwat was playing a water sadhu trying to meditate in water.
Suchitra & Shabbir gave some wonderful poses for snaps. Prakash was making sure everybody gets wet. Turn by turn each one was thrown in water. After a while, it was time to catch some snacks. We had some snacks & tea at the stall near the fall. With stomachs full it was time again for the waterfalls. This one was a bit crowded but still we managed to make place for the team under the milky waterfall. It was wonderful to get the water currents on head. Some of us climbed the waterfall from a side & went beyond the waterfall. There was another bigger waterfall, which was not crowded. The way leading to the waterfall was through a stream, which was a source for the waterfall we had just climbed. We had to carefully negotiate the stream to reach the waterfall. When we reached there we realized it was worth the effort. With some more clicks we returned to the earlier waterfall where the other team members were waiting. It was time to go back to Mumbai.
Everybody was still ecstatic from the experience. All cameramen were instructed to bring the snaps to office the very next day. The road back home was so crowded that a 2 hours journey almost took 4 hours. But thanks to the team the journey was bearable. The singing never stopped. The journey sounded quicker thanks to the spirit of the team. On the way back people were dropped off the way they were picked up. By 9:30 PM everybody was back to home. It was the end of a day well spent.

1 comment:

  1. Wht a detailed description of the whole day out. Thanks Vittalji.. I actually lived thru that day ..all over again.