Sunday, December 27, 2009

In search of the high grasslands ...

flowers and cactus
flowers and cactus

Sometimes one sees more of oneself, suddenly and without a mirror. Suddenly, because largely one is blissfully unaware and unconcerned of most of what or who he is. The realisation stikes like a lightening bolt, gifting you a moment of bright visibility.

Riding through the hills, looking for that faint memory of a vision of beautiful country which I had seen several years ago, I was a happy guy. Then in the biting cold of the late evening, what that bolt did was to light up the world and show me the many corners I have. I manage to bring out such extreme and sometime, uncharacteristically irrational, reactions out of people. Bringing out the worst in people is a thing I wish I was not able to do.

We rode out 175km to a small beautiful village called Brahmanwada in the hills. Ate a banana and headed back. The high pastures were there, spread thin over the bald hills. I had been here in October when the grass had been lush with the occasional late monsoon shower. We bid adieu to the Sun in the small ghat. A little before Malshej, in a village dhaba we had hot missal pav and tea. It got very cold. We had, predictably, like fools, had only one light jacket and one helmet between the two of us. All the way back up to Kalyan it was bone numbing cold. The windchill made the jaw muscles to stiffen and get a cramp, the head to go so cold that it started aching, the ears to feel numb with the cold going deep inside. I was wearing open sandals which added to the discomfort.

But such are the ways of the fool ...

White flowers

Thorn tree and flowers
thorn tree and a bed of flowers


high grasslands
the hills and the grass

ghat road
a beautiful small ghat

Mountain Sunset
sunset amongst the hills

Malshej ghat tunnel
Malshej Ghat

Bhairavgad, Malshej
Bhairavgad, Malshej

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Sunset flowers

घाणेरी (Ghaneri)
घाणेरी (Ghaneri) on the road side, catching the setting sun's light

A couple of weeks back, on a Sunday, I travelled to pune to meet the family and especially Chiu. She had sweetly repeated "Abhi kaka Abhi kaka Abhi kaka" on the phone many times and I had to meet her.

On the 14 Unmesh got very restless so we headed (very late) for Sinhagad on his Unicorn. But we were Very late. So we ended up watching the sun set over Khadakwasla instead. Did some contemplation. Clicked some photos. And headed back.

Next day we got up early 5am and left for Mumbai on the bike. The Unicorn is a good bike. On the westerly bypass from Warze to Dehu Road it was super chilly and I was shivering all the time. It eased of later. At Lonavala we had an early tea on a roadside tapri.

घाणेरी (Ghaneri)
घाणेरी (Ghaneri)

Sunset on Khadakwasla

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

To Matheran (part VI) : of day wonderings and the exit

Sunset at Echo Point
sunset at echo point

Next day we went out for lunch and came back only after dinner having roamed around aimlessly. At the lake we were invaded by a school picnic. Caught the setting sun at Echo point. The sky lit up crazily for about 5 minutes 10 minutes after sunset with fantastic colours when the upper clouds still reflected the set sun's light.

Next day we got up early - 5am - and left by 05:50. It was an 90 minute walk to Dasturi. We crossed a mini dust cloud in the village were teams of 2 sweepers were cleaning the main street in tandem. Then there were the early leavers, mostly on horse back or the early sunrise seekers also on horseback. We trodded on on foot.

At Dasturi, the bikes were warmed up, helmets collected from the shop there, bodies wrapped for the bike ride - and on the way we were. The sun was just rising and the low hills were just poking theirs heads out from the fog shrouded valley. It was comfortably cold. Then we crossed the hump at the Neral fork and entered the valley on the other side. The sun, which was a white disk till now, suddenly completely vanished and we were immersed in the thick fog. Visibility came down to a few meters and all the denizens of the road switched their lights on. It became teeth chattering cold. Water condensed on everything, including the eyelashes. Thus we rode into Karjat, wet, shivering, from this unrelentingly cold white world.

Here we found warmth in tea, vada pav's and kanda bhaji's. All fresh from the stove. Then we headed back to our old world ...

Note: All the photos have details which are better enjoyed in larger size: click on the image and then 'all sizes'. They are part of the Matheran Dec 2009 set on Flickr.

Flowers on Lake Charlotte
flowers on the lake Charlotte

Lake Charlotte
Lake Charlotte

Tea under the trees


Old house
old house

Old house
old house

broken wall
broken wall

Matheran Ghat

Fog shrouded valley
fog shrouded valley

To Matheran (part V) : Night at the house

Relaxing after we reached home

So after food and rambling around in the night, we went home to roost. We were tired. We relaxed. Cracked jokes from a different dimension. Talked. Photographed sundry stuff around.

Matheran with its heavy rains and being in the clouds for 2-3 months every year takes a heavy toll on all material which do not like water. Iron supplies rust super fast. Other things rot if not taken care of. The monkeys make it necessary to bar and grill and mesh everything. You dare not leave any doors or windows open otherwise ...



Old Warrior
an old lock

anti monkey grill




Saturday, December 12, 2009

To Matheran (part IV) : Night Ramblings

where the path meets the road

After the sunset we left to find food and take in the village and its lights. I love photographing in the night. The darkness and the light are very moody. The shadows makes mundane things appear interesting and mysterious. To capture that feeling and ambiance is the interesting challenge.

A few years ago, on my first trip to Matheran with Batata, I had roamed the streets in the night armed with a tripod and my Dynax 5 film camera.

The photos are best enjoyed in large size to see all the details of the night. Click on them to go to their flickr page and do 'all sizes' to see the larger version. They are part of the Flickr Matheran Dec 2009 Set.

Harshu's house

Tiwari's place in the background

Street Scene

an entrance

small restaurant, freshly painted

resort for the tourists

barred entrance

a house and a board



a cross

chatting while I photograph

street lamps and wires

wall and path
wall and path



giant wheel

decked up, come into my parlor

Thursday, December 10, 2009

To Matheran (part III) : The glade

The Glade
The galde near Harshu's house.

Deep in the forest, at the edge of the valley, there is this glade. We can see Irshal and Prabal and the sunsets. We can see airplanes passing by high above. In a silent night we can hear the murmur of the traffic from the expressway and see its glow. We can see stars galore and the occasional man made satellite as it makes it way across silently reflecting the sun's light. We can sit and talk endless wisdom. We can sit still and listen to the forest and its myriad sounds. We can go mad and laugh till it aches. One of those places you feel comfortably secluded.

After the refreshing walk from Dasturi we reached the market and had breakfast of bhaji chapati and ussal-wada pav at Katkar's. Then continued to Harshu's place, which is a further 45 minutes walk. We had had only a few hours of sleep the previous night so we crashed when we reached. Got up and went to the glade just in time to catch the sunset.

Gavankar residence
Percy and the Gavankar residence

In the forest
Going to the glade

Yellowed grass
yellowed grass

Percy and Harshu
Percy and Harshu

Percy clicking the sunset