Rural Maharashtra and the ‘hill stations’.




This morning I drove out of Bombay, it is hard to do because it’s an almost never ending city. However we got to the ghats still clothed in mist and climbed up to the strawberries.

There’s indescribable beauty, huge boulders of mountains, forested, road lined with large banyans with hanging roots. Suddenly you come to a corner spouting a tinted blue waterfall falling over cement rocks? Nature did not do it well enough, we will better it!

Picture perfect little strawberry fields, full of people picking and posing for photographs. Every few turns bring an ATV track, old and young furiously driving mindlessly around in circles between used tires.

Pink, yellow, green resort buildings with large signages all but obscuring the lovely vistas that you have ostensibly come to see. Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar. The retreat in the hills.

Now I find myself sitting a half hour drive out of Mahabaleshwar, it’s a tiny village, the Jai Bhawani hotal serves a mean maharashtrian thali. The store next door has only two real cotton saris which we promptly bought.

The car is parked under a large peepul tree beside the temple, we walk a few meters past down to the banks of a huge, sparkling lake. A gaggle of multi hued ladies sit under the tree waiting for the phut, phuting, colourful boat that soon appears to take us across the lake to the far shore.

There is no one and nothing here but pristineness. We are come to see this little camp, irrelevant, other than that it provides an un intrusive way to to stay in the surrounds of this little place that actually exists just a short way away from the ugly tourist hub.

A moonlit night casts it silvered spell over a silent expanse of water, there are only three visible lights. The magic in my life continues.

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It’s Bombay


The not so little village of Bombay, the cobblestone streets of what we used to call the suburbs. Mainstream Mumbai of today with happening corners and still interesting village alleys rubbing shoulders with each other. A walk able pavement, but an ‘ istriwala’ blocks half, the next section is taken up by a lovely old peepul tree with a quaint temple around it.

That lady with her cotton dhoti and chequered blouse carrying the smart shopping bag works in 4 different flats. Speaks a smattering of English, does the daily shopping for all four workplaces, cooks their meals in record time and retires to her little basti around the corner where chickens still run in the street, the fish lady brings her basket around in the morning and a smart little advertising executive rents the little room above her house. They have village weddings and rocking parties in the little courtyard and each deals with the loud music of the other.

In every area, around almost every corner is a happening little bar or restaurant, you can aspire to pay huge sums for some well presented, pretentious piece of art on a plate or pay a quarter for a sumptuous feast of great fish curry and rice. Street corners sell health food and junk food in adjacent stalls.

The bread man still brings a bag full of goodies to your door, you could actually wake up to the cawing of the birds in the great tree outside your window. You get transport from anywhere to any where at any hour of the day or night.

It’s all rather dirtily swept, there’s a pervasive odour of ‘Bombay’, the sense of fashion is completely individualistic, you get glamour, style, funk, comfortable, ill fitting and downright nothing, but all worn with a sense of ease. There is zest, purpose and busy ness all around, the drivers are polite and they all have a story.

I so enjoy this city.

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Ph: +91 9810184360