27 December 2008

Konkan trip

Last weekend we'd been to Konkan (Ladghar-Dapoli) with some friends. We started in the afternoon as one of the friends had a wedding to attend in the morning. The objective was to reach Dapoli by 7:30pm. However, as usual, we started late - around 2:30 pm.

We drove down in two cars. I was one of the two drivers of the first batch. It was fun driving down upto Wai. We made speedy and broke for tea there. We changed drivers after that. The ghats began after that and the subsequent drivers had it tough battling through the hairpin curves in the setting sun. Once it got dark, our progress was slow. We finally stopped to have some snacks around 7:30 as everyone was feeling hungry. After the snacks everyone felt rejuvenated. The last hour of the journey was scary as we had to drive through a narrow winding lane toward our resort in pitch-black darkness. There was no shoulder on the road to move to in case a vehicle came from the opposite direction. By the grace of God, we made it to our resort in one piece.

Dinner at the resort was welcome though late. Post dinner we got refreshed in our respective cottages and then assembled at one cottage for some games. We had each got a Secret Santa gift for someone in the group. After a round of guessing, we exchanged the gifts. There were lots of wondorous exclaimations and it certainly brought out the Christmas spirit. We then played a game proposed by me. In it, each of us had to throw out a word or sentence as a cryptic clue to the rest. The word or sentence indirectly pointed to one of us in the group and others had to guess that. Once everyone warmed up to the game, I confessed that I'd invented the game just then :) Everyone loved it. We played it for quite some time, before everyone started yawning. We called it a day.

Next morning, some of our friends complained of uninvited guests in their cottages - rats. An apple had teeth-marks that clinched the deal. Everyone vowed to keep nothing open or on the floor. We then went for a walk along the beach which was right opposite our resort. We played frisbee until hunger pangs got us. After a sumptuous breakfast, we went to take baths in our cottages. We started for Kadyavarcha Ganapati at 11 am. Its a temple located at the top of the hill, which is adjacent to the sea coast. The drive was simply breath-taking. We stopped at many vista points and took pictures. The temple itself was quite a simple place. After that we drove to another resort - Aryavart for lunch. The veg buffet was delicious and all of us felt drowsy after the hearty meal. We had to literally drag some of our friends who were lolling in the hammocks.

Back at the resort everyone wanted to hit the beach before sunset. I chose to take a brief nap first though. We played more games at the beach in the evening and broke for some piping hot pakodas and tea. Gossip and chat session followed that. Dinner had mouth-watering fried fish and solkadhi. Post dinner we played a game called Taboo. Its a fun game where there are cards with a word which the denner has to enact and his team members have to guess. The caveat is that there are 5 words that are taboo and should not be used while enacting. There is a time limit in which the denner has to enact as many words as possible and points are given based on that. There is negative marking in case one cannot enact the word or makes mistakes. The time constraint introduced pressure in the game that made it more interesting. There were some tense moments when the game got really competitive, but it was all in fun.

The next morning we had arranged to go on the boat to watch dolphins. We left around 8 am in the morning. The sea was rough and we got drenched by the waves even before starting out. The boatman took us to an area of the sea frequented by dolphins. They cut the boat engine and we had to exercise patience while keeping an alert eye for the playful dolphins. Everytime someone saw a movement in the water, or on the horizon, there were shouts of triumph. It was exhilarating to watch the dolphins leaping and hopping in the water. At one point, one of our boatmen fell into the water while manouvering the boat. We had to go back and fetch him. I actually thought that it had been a feat to attract the attention of the dolphins, but it turned out to be a genuine fall afterall!

We were all ravenous by the time we got back to the bank(no, it was NOT the dolphins that made us hungry!) A hearty meal of konkan pancakes with chutney awaited us. We had decided to take it easy for the day and we literally lazed around in the courtyard of the resort. Inspiration hit me again - I guess the bracing sea air accelerated the functioning of my brain. A la 'Friends' style, I proposed that one of our friends should come up with a list of trivia questions for 2 teams about each of us. It was to test how much did we really know about ourselves. While this friend got busy with this task, we played another round of Taboo. Once the former game was ready, we played that. It was interesting to know how much we knew about each other and to learn whatever we had not known. After that we played yet another of my games - third degree. One person said a word, his neighbor had to say the first thing that came to mind related to that word and so on. No word should be repeated. This too gave an insight to people's thought process and their outlook or bias toward life.

The gamethon was interrupted only when lunch was announced. After lunch, everyone broke for some rest and refreshments (none of us had bathed till then!) Evening saw us at the beach again. Frisbee, walks and lots of chatting. We wanted to have chat, but none of us had carried any money:( We played Antakshari at the sea-side. Once it got cold outside, we resumed the games in the cottage. This time we played a variation of Dumbcharades - the Moods round, proposed by none other than yours truly. We would enact words related to emotions, with our hands tied and without speaking. Soon, everyone warmed up to this game. We went on playing this till dinner was announced. Everyone's acting skills; especially facial expressions, were taxed to the limit in this game. There were some risque emotions to be enacted that elicited sniggers and blushes. Post dinner too, by common consent, we continued with this game until everyone had exhausted their repertoire of emotions.

On our last morning at the resort, everyone was reluctant to leave, such was our bonding over the last few days. We kept putting off our departure as late as we could. We finally left around 11. We stopped at Mahabaleshwar around 2 pm for lunch and games. We first had strawberries and cream and some chat and then played carnival games such as shooting the balloons, board hockey etc. We won a lot of chocolates at this. We finally had lunch at Mapro garden around 3 pm. We started for Pune around 4. I drove one of the cars for the last lap of the journey over the Pasarni ghat and then right upto Pune where we all split for our respective homes.

Elongated power outages, an irritatingly noisy group that tested the limits of our patience, the nuisance of rats, a finicky dog who rejected most of our offerings and broken bathroom plumbing that resulted in change of rooms, were the only blights on the peaceful horizon of our trip. To say that this was a memorable trip would be an understatement. It was not just a trip but perhaps the beginning of a new and lasting relationship. We shared so much about each other and enjoyed a rare rapport throughout the trip. Konkan is a beautiful place with sprawling coconut & banana trees, verdant valleys and scenic highways. But as they say, its not the place that makes a journey memorable, its the company!

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