Sunday, July 5, 2009

A Whirlwind Road Trip: Bangalore To Navi Mumbai

15th June 2009 to 21st June 2009


Total distance: 1048 Kms
1st June 09: We took the car delivery. Indigo CS it was finally after much study and almost freezing onto an Indica V2. We drove to do the Muhurat at 12.15 noon. I was very happy and told him that I plan to do my first road trip to Mumbai and do the first service there. He agreed that it was a good idea.

I was looking for a driver but was not able to. Then it was time for the Vajra Mohotsav of Ram temple in Chintamani. Among the many that came for the celebrations was Sameer. He is a sevekari at the Gondavale Sansthan and also runs a small transport business. Ashwath Narayan Uncle fixed him up for us. I felt it was not mere co-incidence. Then on 10th June we finalized the trip. Now it was a question of me getting the leave approved. I was lucky, it was approve for 15th to 19th June 09. I was all set to go on the road trip.

15th June 2009:

We started at 4.45 am from Brahmachaitanya Mandir. It was a pleasant morning, still dark. Sameer said it would be great to drive in the cool weather as the car was new. We drove out from Hoskarehalli cross and took the Outer Ring Road, the Mysore Road, onto the Nece corridor and Tumkur Road and touched the NH4. We headed for Satara.

I had made a nice bed for Chimi. She seemed to be enjoying the ride at first. Normally she is very quite on drives. After about couple of hours of driving, I realized she was uneasy but before I knew, she vomitted. I asked the driver to pull over to the side. Cleaned her up and discarded the bed cover. I also took her for a short walk to help her relieve.

I was worried. Was it going to be like this for her through out the journey?! I was feeling guilty.

After an hour she vomited again. This time she soiled her towel. I threw it away and was cursing myself for bringing her along on this trip to meet family and friends. Infact the plan was to take her where ever we go and I was begining to regret it every bit. Later she was ok and what a relief it was for us.

Only after I knew Chimi was ok, I started enjoying the drive on the NH4. It is a beautiful road. Cuz S would have said "makhan hai", smooth as butter. Since it was a new car, we were advised by one and all not to cross 90 kmph so I had a close eye on the speedometer. The driver too was enjoying the drive and was manoeuvring the steering wheel with a feather touch.

Even though the NH4 is in excellent condition and we pass through some beautiful topography it still feels lonely. In India we are so used to seeing people all the time that the drive becomes boring and tiring after some long hours. There is not much of a choice for food. We stopped at the VRL maintained complex at Chitradurg for breakfast of upma and tea. Chimi was happy to walk around and breathe some fresh air.

Getting back on to the road we realized that this part was a little congested due to the construction of a flyover that is in progress, it is a patch that is rough right now.

I pulled out my laptop to have a look at the Kms that we needed to cut before lunch. We were already 350 kms away from Bangalore and smsed to Him that I was indeed enjoying my road trip but had started missing him already knowing how much he loves long drives.

The usual instructions from him were followed both by Dad and me, no talking too much to the driver and of not discussing personal matters in the car.


After that rough patch we got heading to Hubli and our driver was enjoying the feel of the road. I was more engrossed with the rows of windmills of the hill ranges along the highway.



The field were tilled and ready for sowing. The fresh soil looked like it was ready to invite the seedlings in its womb and I can imagine this fertile land swaying with rich crops in a few months. The rains were yet to touch this part of Karnataka.


Chimi was so quite after the bouts of puking. She slept all the while, sometimes in my lap and sometimes on the bed that I had made for her. Once in a while she jumped on to the floor of the car and rested her head perfectly on the space divider. Smarty she is, makes herself comfortable anywhere.


We kept driving as we listened to a non descript FM channel. I had taken along a portable radio just for the driver incase both me and Dad dosed off.


Around 1pm we reached near Hubli. Both Dad and the driver were hungry, I had lost appetite after breakfast due to the shabby place we had eaten at in the morning. This time round all I wanted was a clean place. That was asking for too much. Yet again a dirty dhaba served as our eating place. While the order was being worked up I preferred to walk Chimi in the outside. This lone tree seeked my attention, it overlooked the NH4.


We had Hot Tandoori Rotis with Dal fry. The Rotis were crisp and the Dal smelled like, shezchaun sauce was added to it, definitely not my taste. The guys washed down their food with bottles of Sprite. I didn't care for it.

Post lunch we drove without a break and at 4 pm touched Sangli. We had now moved away from NH4 and were on the village roads of Maharashtra. Sangli is where Sameer, our drivers parents live. So he insisted we have tea at his home. His parents were waiting for us as he had informed them that we were reaching there. His mother had kept his suitcase ready as he would be with us for the next one week. Our trip was not planned it just clicked so he needed to drop of his bag and pick a new one.

Chimi was happy to have a cool drink of water there. We were offered a nice Masala chaha and Bhadang. After some conversation we decided to move on and reach Gondavale our first destination before nightfall. About 3hrs drive was expected.

We entered the Gondavale Sansathan at 7.30 pm just in time for the Aarti. It helped that Sameer is a sevekari here. We did not have to instruct him about anything. He got the keys to the room that we were alloted, put the luggage in to the room and only then went to his home outside the Sansthan.

We got fresh, Dad went to meet Ashok guruji and family. His 2 daughters came over to the room to meet me. I handed over to them the khaoo that I had brought along. The girls are always excited about the little things that I get for them.

16th June 2009:

The darshan of the Samadhi was peaceful. There was no rush so I got enough time to pray. We decided to have the pooja for the car to be done the next morning. A dinner at guruji's and we retired for the night. It had been a long 14 hr drive and our bones needed a rest before another day on the road.

The next morning we took darshan of the Samadhi and all the temples in the village as is customary and returned to the Sansthan.

Sameer stationed the car right at the doorstep of Samadhi mandir at 9.00 am. Ashok Guruji did a nice pooja.




Then Sameer suggested that we take Paranjape Kaka for a drive upto the Thorla Ram Mandir. In Shree Gondavalekar Maharaj's Parampara the trustees of the Sansathan are highly respected. I was little hesitant about asking mainly due the high regard we have for the seat of the trustees but the Sweet Paranjape Kaka obliged. So there you see us infront of the Thorla Ram Mandir with him.


He was telling Shree Ram that you have got me for darshan in Indigo CS :). I was so touched by this. Small things but very thoughtful. I guess even Shree Maharaj would have done that for his followers :)

After the pooja and a satisfied me, we set out for home sweet home that is Nerul. We were armed with packets of yummy pohe from the God's kitchen. We had already had breakfast at guruji's of thikat puri and parathe with groundnut chutney, followed by hot steaming cups of a vanilla flavored tea! Humm that is the trend now in the villages. I appreciate what they do for us.

We took the route from Gondavale via Veer Dam and touched the Expressway again and moved towards Navi Mumbai where it ended just a few hundred meters from my home.

We stopped for a quick bite of Vada pao on the expressway outside Pune.

As we neared Kharghar I called up P Kaka to instruct the gatekeepers to allow the car in for parking in the society's compound. P Kaka came down to welcome Chimi. He so naturally swung her up into his strong arms, he has been a wrestler in the younger days you see. Chimi got comfortable instantly.

Once at home, my darling checked out the entire place, running around and bouncing with joy as she does not have so much space in the Blr house. She was skidding on the floor as she ran across and it was so funny to watch her.


The rest of the day we just spent talking with P kaka and calling up the rest of the family. There was excitement in the air. Sapna had cooked for us gavar bhaaji and sevayanchi kheer. But it was already 3.30pm and none of us wanted to have lunch as we had snacked well. So that was stashed away for dinner.


Both Somu and Bal were happy to see me and Chimi I could see a clear excitement in Sapna's eyes. We were together as a family for the first time since the S&S wedding.

17th June 2009:

The morning began with Sapna and me making upma for breakfast. I filled her in on life in Blr and she did the same about Mumbai. I coaxed her to take leave atleast for a day so we could go shopping together, she agreed and Friday suited both of us.

Humm...so what was I going to do on this day. Dad wanted to take rest, I wanted to go meet my folks in Thal. So post lunch we hit the road again. We started at 3.30 pm from Nerul took the Alibag road upto Teenveera Dam then took the immediate right and took the Revas road. We decided to by-pass Alibag as my car's Karanataka registration no. was getting looks from the greedy Traffic police.

It was a beautiful drive, the light showers last week had washed out all the dirt and dust and the trees looked greener than ever. Through the narrow roads lined up with coconut and bettlenut palms we reached Thal. This time I called up Mothe Baba to the bus stand so he could guide me to park the car. It felt so good to be in Thal.

On the way Manasa called up offering to have tea with me. She was surprised to hear I was on a road trip. Yes most of my friends were unaware about it. I teased her that in some time I will be in a beach chair sipping chai in my Grand aunt's backyard and watching the sun go down. That was exactly my plan.

Some how we navigated through the gallis of Thal and managed to Park the car at the only open space in the heart of the village, near the Hauli. Hauli is Koli for Holi, there is a permanent platform built for the lighting of Holi fire near the seashore near the bazaar. The car was going to be there for the night.

I pulled out all Chimi's stuff and went straight home. Mothi Aai was sitting in a chair. I was happy to see her after long. I gave her a hug. She responded as warmly. She has not been keeping well. I realized she was affected so much by the empty nest feeling. All 8 kids in the family (my generation) had gone off in different directions. It does not help spending the entire vacation with her as Neelam and Rajani had done. The grand children had been there too but she wanted us her own kids to be with her. It made me pensive.

Then I went to Aaji's home and instructed Prema and Nirmal Tai to cook dinner for me and the driver. Mothi Aai was in no condition to entertain us. Aaji had just been operated for cataract. It was right time for my visit. I got to check out on her health too. Aaji was being taken good care of by Mama's girls so I was at peace.

There is so much poverty there and even my immediate kith and kin suffer the unpredictable life depending on the sea. There is very little that I can do to change things for them.

Mothi Aai and Mothe Baba have enjoyed a good life in Mumbai when Baba was with Tatas. But now with old age and the kids married all the money is useless. The huge home that we have is uncared for, they use only the downstairs and the upstairs is almost haunted. I did not even bother to go up. This family home has seen so much buzz and now it is empty. Thank god atleast it will last us another 10 yrs in good condition. I want to see more happening there in the future. Some one will have to make the time. Somu always loved Thal, I hope he does something to change this situation and he is the closest to our village. It is quite unfair on him I understand as he is the only one running around for all the elders as some of us are far away.


After we came back to Aaji's I tied her to a pole as I was enjoying my coconut cooler inside the house. Some kid released Chimi and she went straight home. I was scared for her safety but she was OK.


In the evening I took Chimi to Thal's virgin beach. It is called Mal bandar, not sure how it got the name all I know is bandar means seashore.


It is the time of the year when the sea is ferocious. It was still high tide and the skies pregnant with rain clouds. There was no chance of seeing the sunset today. Khanderi and Undheri looked covered with clouds and seemed near to shore. Chimi initially hated the water.


Then she started playing with the waves. She would chase the waves as the seas sucked them in and run for her life as they lashed on the shore. My folks had instructed that I should not let her loose as the village dogs would attack her. The seashore here is a dogs dominated area.




We played on the beach with the Tennikoit ring and a bright pink Frisbee that I had bought for Chimi. Just me and Chimi. Sushil just wanted to walk Chimi and talk to the driver. They were not interested in having fun with Chimi but we did have fun.


Chimi was going nuts with the smell of the sea and fish. She is born in Blr and this is a new experience for her. I saw her salivating many times and trying to find bones in the streets of Thal that the fish eating population litter without guilt. I decided to sleep at Aaji's along with the girls and Chimi. They giggled all night when Chimi went to give them a lick before finally cuddling up near my feet.

18th June 2009:

The morning of 18th began by molly coddling Mothi Aai to get ready to go with me to Nerul. I succeeded. Baba would join us later he said. The return journey seemed real quick we had started at 6.30 am from Thal and by 7.45 am we were in Nerul. We had stopped only 5 mins to buy some mineral water and Marie biscuits for Aai as she is a diabetic.

My Mamis and cousins came to see us off at the Hauli. They wondered how lucky Chimi was when they saw her bed in the car. I counted my blessings one more time.

We were in time for breakfast. I helped Sapna rustle up some yummy kande pohe. During breakfast it was decided that I go to pick up Pranav from school and bring him to Nerul. Charu would not agree, she insisted I visit her home in Mahul.

Meanwhile we finished cooking lunch. I noticed that Charu had bought Basmati rice which I liked. Here Basmati rice is cheaper, in Blr we get only premium packs in most stores so I decided to kill 2 birds with a single stone. At 11 am drove out, took the Palm beach road and via Vashi bridge landed up at Mahul.

Charu was happy to see me, after a refreshing drink of Pepsi we went and bought a 10 kg pack of Basmati and 2 kgs of Kolam rice from the local grocer that Charu shops at. When she told that I was visiting from Blr he handed out a big packet of Krackjack as a complimentary gift. We kept it for Pranav to munch on after school.

It was a surprise for Pranav. He almost exclaimed,"You came by car from Blr!". I gave him a huggy and a kissy. Yes baby just to meet you:)! He immediately planned a weekend together. "Let's go to Alibag", he said. I just came back from there dear I told him. He was disappointed to know I was going to be in Mumbai only until Saturday. On the way back we chattered away to glory. He is the only kid who has spent a lot of time with me when he was young and we share a special bond.

Once back in Nerul and the box of Battleship in possession I was a captive player for him. How do you play this he lamented as Charu commented give him some buddhu toys to play with. She sternly told him to read the instructions. He did but nothing sunk in. I promised to play with him after lunch. So cleared the dinning table as quickly as possible for a game of Battleship. He thoroughly enjoyed it. I felt like a kid all over again calling out loud "HIT" and "Miss". He promptly also opened the box of Housie that I had gifted to Sapna and was untouched for couple of days now. I am told Sapna Mami and Pranav bhacha get along like a house on fire.


Chimi was petted and pampered by Pranav. He has his Tommy so he was a natural with Chimi too. It was fun to watch them play.


Watch them here


It brought back memories of Pranav carrying Tommy in a back sack to Alibag as he rode behind Pramod Bhauji. They spent their summer vacation there a couple of years ago. Tommy has grown now and no more a pup that would fit in a back sack.

Meanwhile I spoke to MJ Kaka and told him that I'd pick him up from work and we'd go home together to Kandivali. On the way we dropped off Charu and Pranav near the Landmark of Chembur, the Shivaji Maharaj statue. It was going to be a circuitous tour of Mumbai, going into Sion, driving along the railway line on the LBS marg and reaching Kalina to pick up MJ Kaka. He was waiting at the gate. I had to make sure that he need not have to cross the road as he is still using a walker. He was loaded with heavenly smelling hot samosas and Jilebis. I was getting impatient to devour them. As we caught up on all the updates and navigated through the fabulous Western Express highway and the very narrow lanes in the suburbs of Mumbai we reached Kandivali.

Kaki was waiting for us. She promptly reheated the samosas in the microwave and handed it out to us. I ate two! They don't taste the same down south was my excuse. Jalebis were shelved for dessert post dinner. As usual, I went behind Kaki into the kitchen to tell her all my Blr stories and to listen to her advice on matters personal. We laughed together at our capacity to deal with male chauvinism and sometimes kick it too.

She always plans pampering sessions for us visiting adult kids, be it food or other things. Last time she had arranged a massage session and a champi (head massage). Her take, you guys don't take care of yourselves. We eagerly comply.

This time she had made mutter paneer and mixed greens bhaaji and sevayancha sheera along with other standard fare. She made me taste atleast three types of pickles she had made. I had to inform her before hand that I would not have breakfast at her home next morning and that I plan to go back to Nerul for breakfast. I wanted to drop off MJ Kaka in office in the morning but I had to reach Nerul by 9.00 am. The car had to go for the first 1000 kms servicing. I was done with almost 1200 kms.


19th June 2009:

So started back from Kandivali at 6.00 am and reached Nerul by 8.00 am.

On the way back from Kandivali I grabbed a chance of meeting Ghadi Kaka, the retired deputy secretary of Medical department, Maharashtra Govt. and our family friend. He is a bachelor and has given away this home and wealth to a boy who has served him since childhood.


Just wanted to check on him. He was happy to see us and blessed me as he always does. He has been a motivator in my life and has made me a fearless and independent person that I am today with his inspiring thoughts. He was as expected in the puja room which I used to study in when I was doing my final year of graduation. It is still the same with the big painting on Canvas of Shree Brahmachaitanya Maharaj. There is a story behind that painting. A boy had done it in exchange of his medical college fees that Ghadi Kaka paid for.


Post breakfast off went Somu and Sameer with the car. They are pretty strict about keeping appointments as there is a good line up. We were warned, we were first in line, if late we would be pushed to the last. So they made it on time to ensure we get it back on the same day by evening.

Sapna had taken leave and we were to go shopping together. Ashwath Narayan Uncle had told us to shop for Parimala aunty and Manasa. They wanted Punjabi suits. We cooked lunch and fed everyone and set out on our shopping spree. Dad wanted to accompany so we decided to take Somu's Indica V2. Sameer our driver is from a small town so he was thrilled to go to Inorbit mall.

Again through Palm beach road we got into Vashi and stopped at the Garden shop called Rupali. I bought all the Punjabi suits there itself. There were good designs and would stand out in Blr. You don't get such stuff there, I'd say it is not common.

Then we drove to Inorbit. Sameer almost gasped at the parking lot in the basement, 2000 cars at a time! I told him this was my nth visit and I still had not covered the entire Inorbit. I just go to the shops I am familiar with shop and come out only when Dad calls to say it is late. This time Dad was with us and for a Man my Dad enjoys retail therapy more than I do. We first hit Bombay Store and bought an umbrella. Dad suggested we buy some designer jewelery but both me and Sapna resisted the temptation.

After a bit of window shopping and planning to snack at Kailash Parbat and have ice cream at Natural we went over to Hypercity. Kalpana had asked me to pick up a set of towels for her in the deals section which I did. Did a lot of shopping for groceries and munchies to bring back to Blr as the Mumbai farsans are different from the South Indian ones.

Dad freaked out on the Dasheri and Kesar mangoes. We bought both varieties. He declared he was going to eat both for dinner. Sapna was experiencing this side of Dad for the first time so she was grinning all the way. We picked an assortment of Chocolates and boxes of Cheeselings for home and to give away to Shimon the next day.

We had still a lot to do but Somu called up to tell us that the Indigo was serviced and the driver needed to go pick it up. So it was a hard stop. We came back home with loads of stuff and happy faces.

20th June 2009:

This day as was planned was to visit Johnson, Shirley and Shimon. Johnson and requested that I bring along Chimi. Ofcourse she would come I told him.

On the way to Johnson's we finally were targeted by a greedy cop. Dad was in the front seat and not wearing the belt so in went 200 Rs. into the dicky. Followed by which Dad quietly belted himself up.

Johnson's new home is in a huge complex on the LBS Marg. Landscaped gardens and play areas for kids. Shimon is lucky to have his school next door. It is a nice place and a labour of love for their family. I appreciate the grit with which Shirley pursued her dream.

We were served hot Lacy appams with Ishtew and Mutter packed patties. We hogged and promised to skip lunch. Oh yeah there was gulabjamun too. I love how our Mumbai women handled work, social life and more. I don't see it among women in other parts of the country. Mumbai women are superwomen! Cheers to Shirley!!!

Shimon loved Chimi and I almost forgot to get her back into the car when we were leaving. I promised Johnson that I'd go to see his Aunt Nancy once in Blr. She is a nun in one of the churches in Fraser town.

We came back home. Bags were packed and lined up in the boot. Promises were made to visit again and bye byes said. We started back to Blr from Navi Mumbai at 3.30 pm.

It was a gloomy afternoon, the rains were expected to hit any moment. They did when we were by-passing Pune. It was cool and the drive pleasant from then on.

We decided to go to Heballi no matter how late it would get. We were advised to stay at Hubli or Dharwad but we chose to stay at Heballi itself. We knew it would be the safest to be in the courtyard of our Shree Maharaj. Sameer too being a follower and sevekari was excited about visiting there.

We ate bread and butter as we raced the NH4. Then stopped for dinner at 9 pm just before Hubli. We reached Dharwad by 12 pm. Heballi was 14 kms from here. The Police station turned out to be the only help available at the unearthly hour. So Sameer went and enquired about the way to Heballi.

We were told to take a left at the Shivaji's statue. We did and the road ahead was straight and through wilderness made worse by the darkness. Finally at 12.45 pm we spotted an old man on his way to relieve himself. We enquired about the Shree Brahmachaitanya Gondavalekar Maharaj Math. He promptly showed us the way. What coincidence!

We saw a bus stand nearby and checked with some drivers resting for the night there. They told us to go a few 100 feet down the road and told us to look for a walled compound with a small gate. We did locate that easy in the dark night. A sevekari opened the door for us. Thank God he spoke Marathi! We were back in Karnataka and it would have been difficult without knowing Kanada but in these parts they do speak some Marathi.

Heballi temple

We parked the car and Sameer got us a room on the top floor of a three storeyed bldg. Ashwath Narayan Uncle had warned us about the hygiene issues there. So we slept on the satrangis provided to us and the next morning just had a wash, took Darshan of the Samadhi and told the sevekari about our intention to start towards Blr. He offered us tea and we gladly accepted it.


21st June 2009:

Now we were on the non stop leg of our journey and wanted to reach Blr by afternoon. Now through the NH4 lined with coconut trees and greenery we reached Tumkur. We were to take the Mysore road instead we took the Magadi road and goofed on the route. One hour was spent sightseeing Kengeri town and finally hitting the Mysore road and then the Outer Ring road finally reaching home at 3 pm.

Hush!!! What a whirlwind road trip it was! We enjoyed throughly and the experience that was made more pleasant by a good driver like Sameer especially as he is also a follower of Shree Maharaj.

The trip turned out a little more divine than I had planned with the inclusion of Heballi on the way back. In all it was one memorable road trip and a milestone that will remind me of my journey.

Statistics and Cost: Click to see the details.


References:

Bombay to Bangalore by Car(NH4)

Bangalore-Mumbai-Bangalore Road trip Statistics

Mumbai to Bangalore: A road trip after a real long time

Bangalore-Mumbai Road trip, two friends and an Indica!

7 comments:

Sharmila said...

I missed this as my reader did not update. Wow! What a trip Anjali!:-) Love your addition of maps and details about the routes and stoppages. We love road trips and so enjoyed every bit of your post. You can try a mild sedative for Chimi the next time ... even childrens' cough syrups work. Dogs are usually given children's medicines ... and any vet can advise you. Domstal syrup will work great for both queasy tummy and nervousness on a trip. :-)
Always love coming here and being apart of your adventaures. Take care. :-)

Anonymous said...

Sowing the seeds for a clean, green, beautiful Navi Mumbai tomorrow
NGO Green Hope launched a project to plant over two lakh saplings across the nodes on Sunday. Guardian Minister Ganesh Naik, actor Sachin Khedekar besides young and old lent their help for a cause to make future city a better place to live in.

Anjali said...

That is great Anon pl. get in touch with Nerul-CBD Belapur walkers association and Nerul gymkhana for more participation.

VijayGanesh. S said...

Congrats for the new car. Lovely post and lot of details :)

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for another greet post. Keep up the good work.

Varsha said...

Great post Anjali!!!