Tuesday, December 26, 2006

A trip to Ganpatipule - Ratanagiri

Its cold and its uncomfortable. Trying to sleep in a seat meant to sit is asking for too much, I know. Traveling in night in a bus is always painful but then at times it’s more convenient. I remove the so-called curtains and I look outside the window. The world outside my window appears to be hazy because of the moisture on the window. Felt as if I was looking into someone’s dream. Unable to sleep, I look back at my trip to Ganpatipule.

We started on Saturday night. We were a group of 4 girls, looking for some adventure. So, all excited we started before time, well before time meant reaching 2 hours early. It little difficult be early for some place and not to spend money in Mumbai. In Mumbai one can always find a place to spend money, esp. if you don’t plan to spend money. We went to Naturals ice-cream parlor. We sat for half an hour before buying the ice-cream, sat for another half an hour after buying the ice-cream. The place from where we were supposed to catch the bus was crowded to fullest. The long weekend approaching made everyone come out of their routine life. Families, group of friends and here and there some couples, all trying to make sense of all the confusion around them. Atlast our bus came, though half an hour late. With the entry to the bus, we marked our beginning to the journey to Ganpatipule.

A sudden jerk broke my sleep. I realize Sonali was shaking us all and realized that the bus has stopped too. Packed my blanket fast and got out of the bus. It was 5:45 in the morning. A sudden cold wave of air hit me hard because I wasn’t wearing anything warm and it felt awesome. Still in sleep, I tried to make sense of where we were. We started walking to a roadside hotel. In India, by rule everything has to be colorful. The hotel, though not very clean or big was lit up with dancing lights of all possible colors to attract tourists. We ordered for tea and sat down to plan our next phase of trip…we were 32 km from Ganpatipule. The tea came and the owner informed us of a bus that will come at 8 to take us to Ganpatipule. A rickshaw would cost us 250 rs. We decided to wait for the bus.

The tea made me feel better. It was a cold morning. I looked at the sky and realized that living in Mumbai I had forgotten how a clean sky looks. The sky was turning from black to grey and a part of sky started burning in red. Slowly and steadily the Sun appeared marking the beginning of the day. We went and stood at the bus stop. Slowly, people also started gathering around us. Within few minutes a crowd gathered around us. Far on the road we saw a bus huffing and puffing. The black smoke indicated that only few days are left for this bus to retire. All around us the crowd became alert. Everyone started running towards it. As though the bus got scared of all the people rushing towards it, it stopped before the stop only. Everyone tried moving into the bus at the same time causing more confusion and before anyone could realize what happened, the conductor screamed – “No space. Take the other bus!”. The door closed, the bus huffed and puffed some more before moving on. Some cursed, some were too shocked to react and we kept staring at the bus as if it was some bad dream.

The rickshaw ride was much better than the bus, that’s how we consoled ourselves. The road leading to Ganpatipule was narrow and smooth. We sang songs, admired the beautiful countryside. The crisp and cold wind played with my hair. We could smell the sea approaching and before we knew, the road turned and there was sea right in front of us. The sight was so amazing that for a second I forgot what was happening around me. The sea sparkled with the rays of the young sun splashing over it. The waves jumped and danced over the white sand that lay lazily along side the sea. As soon as I looked at the road ahead of me, I was taken aback by the amount of crown that was there on the road. We found a place with clean shower rooms and plenty of home-made food. All with a cost but we were there on a holiday, so just paid and went to sightseeing.

There is a Ganpati temple right on the beach. As we entered the temple we could only see heads and faces. The crowd was rowdy and unmanaged. It was like entering a battle field; you can’t come out without getting hurt. By getting hurt I don’t mean physically, but mentally. It took as an hour for the darnshan and when we came out neither of us remembered how the idol of the God looked but what we did remember was how a guy in front was taking his chances on the girls behind him. If only people would respect each other’s sanity, this world wouldn’t have needed so much of God’s help to maintain the balance.

By the time we came out of the temple, it was nearly lunch time. We headed back to for a hot and delicious, Maharashtrian style cooked meal that was waiting for us. We gulped down the food as if there is no tomorrow. After the lunch we headed back to beach, this time for fun. The water was crystal clear and when I looked towards the horizon it looked a huge blue beast is sleeping with rhythmic ups and downs of its breathing visible. The sea was lined on three sides by mountains, looked amazing. It seemed like a place where you can take a boat to the horizon and forget about the world behind. We played games on the beach, looked at the colorful seashells, ducked each other in the salty water till we were completely drenched. In between we even tried searching for few interesting faces on the beach. Well, we were sure to be disappointed on that front; we were not a part of Baywatch.

The fun and frolic ended with a 6:15 bus back to Ratnagiri, from where we had to take our bus back to Mumbai. The bus ride back is always sad. The return journey has the feelings same as the last day of summer holidays. The fun is over; the work is waiting to start. From the window of the bus I saw the sun sitting in the sea. The rays of the setting sun played on the surface of the sea. The sea looked calm and the sun looked naughty. The sun was me and the sea was my inner self. With day over and the best memories carefully packed inside my heart, I closed my eyes and slept peacefully in the rhythmic noise of the huffing and puffing bus.

The similar landmarks outside my window made me come back from Ganpatipule. I looked at my reflection on the mirror and I smiled to myself. Kritika, welcome back to Mumbai.