So the plan was on… after our last cycling trip, we decided that we needed more fun and excitement in our lives, so we planned to head out somewhere overnight. Aniket suggested that we should go trekking to Matheran from Neral station on a Friday night and everyone thought this would be super fun and exciting (lol .. dumbasses!)
So the plan was set – we wrote down a few items that we should carry – torches, extra set of clothes, windcheaters (I was the one assigned to making this list and thought I had all the bases covered.. or so I thought). These are the folks that were part of the group.. Notice the late addition of Parth 🙂 who decided to join in our group at 5.30pm that day, thinking this would be some araam-se-walla trip.
Since it was a Friday that we were planning of leaving, Lavita, Raj and Aniket decided to head home earlier and then meet up with Akshay and me as we wanted to catch the France-Uruguay game at Timbuctoo. Lavi & Ani came back around 8 pm and joined us for a ‘few’ drinks, and post getting filled up with lots of liquid courage, we headed to Vikhroli station where we were to meet Raj and catch the 12.10am train to Karjat. Since Lavi was super high, it was only obvious that she suggested we should travel ticketless and also carry along some additional liquid courage in our bags – of course the rest of us were slightly inebriated as well, so we simply obliged the lady. The train journey was rather uneventful, except that yours truly managed to grab some shuteye.
We finally touched Neral station at 1.40am and lo and behold, I was astounded that it had started raining so much! Luckily for us, we all had windcheaters (shh.. I hope Parth isn’t reading this 😉 ). One of us also had an XXL raincoat, while the other wore crocs. (And to think I made fun of the fact that he was planning of trekking wearing crocs and no shoes)
Now just so you’re able to properly visualize the clothing we were wearing, let’s see if you can guess who wore the following. The answers are in white text, so just highlight over it
Crocs – Akshay
Windcheater that didn’t have a hood – Aniket
XXL size raincoat – Raj
Proud wearer of the Nielsen NGID shirt – Lavita
Miner’s headlamp + Jeans + woodland shoes – Alvito
Sleeveless banyan + umbrella – Parth
Of course, like innocent travellers, we thought that the rain would subside in a little while, so off we went, all gung-ho and armed with torches in one hand (and an umbrella in the other for some) following our trek leader Aniket. And wouldn’t you know it, with the first 10 minutes, our trek leader had to ask someone on a bike for directions of how to reach Matheran (I remember thinking, Dear God, please help us all)
We didn’t have to ask anyone else the directions though (or perhaps that was because there was no one else to ask), but we trudged along, meeting a friendly dog whom Lavita decided to call Bruno (at least that’s what it started off as.. eventually we all started calling him either Brutus… –yup same name as the guy that whacked Caesar during the Roman Empire days- or Brun and then debating whether Brun was a French name or a Marathi name)
The weather was quite disastrous, and visibility extremely poor, in fact we couldn’t see more that 5 feet in front of us with our torches. Thank Goodness we at least had torches! Along the way, I pitied (1) poor Parth, who only had an umbrella and no sleeves on his T-shirt to keep him warm, (2) Raj, who felt it was his mission to continue the legacy of Swachh Bharat by removing all fallen rocks along the road so that the cars behind us would hit them (I was like salla chutiya, at least they have cars!) (3) Brutus err… Bruno who probably thought these inept NCCS A folks (haha NCCS …get it, Aniket?) would turn back and head home leaving him to his peaceful calmness as he was before he met us (4) Myself, every time I thought I was about to die from exhaustion or the weather, I would hear Lavi & Shah exclaim, “Here Bruno, want some biscuits to eat?”.. Side note, I heard someone mention rather casually that dogs die if they eat chocolate… LMGTFY… mental note to self, carry lots of chocolate next time! (5) Aniket, who after every 10 minutes would proceed to exclaim, “Guys, let’s not waste any more time in stopping and talking, ok?”. And exactly 30 seconds later he would stop to put his hand under some random waterfall to test how fuckin cold the water was!!! WTF!! (6) The kind hearted cars that actually stopped whilst passing us to ask if we need some help (see Raj, karma was kind to you for clearing the pathway or maybe they were just being kind since they saw that we had one chick with us). Of course, with gleeful smiles we told them that we are going trekking! Yay 🙁 🙁 🙁
Don’t forget, all the while it was raining cats & dogs (Bruno!! Bruno!!)… due to which my woodland shoes had glue froth coming out of them.. Imagine a Deadman frothing at the mouth and that’s exactly what my shoes looked like.
I glanced down at my watch and realised that this was only the first 1 hour of our trek…
As we continued to trek along, we came across a scene right out of a horror movie – a couple of guys walking towards us who asked us to help push their vehicle stuck in some ditch. Being the Good Samaritan, Aniket volunteered for us all 🙂
When questioned, these 2 guys mentioned that they were 5 guys in total in the car, post which, we all had the same thought process… 5 guys… 1 car… how hard is it for them to push the car, especially since it was supposed to be a hatchback … what if this entire episode was just a rouse so that they could mug us along the way and take my frothing woodlands … but wait… I’m too beautiful to die this young.
Turns out our fears were rather premediated, as when we reached the site of the car stuck in the ditch it looked really bad. We all tried very hard to push and we huffed and puffed, but to no avail. Eventually after 1.5 hrs, we realised that this was of no use and gave up since the car was sliding down the wrong side of the cliff rather dangerously. So we told the folks from the car that they would need to call a TOW truck to yank them out. We started along our way and within 2 minutes Aniket and Lavita stopped shouting, “Bruno, Bruno, where are you!!” I was like WTF… We spent an hour pushing a damn car, and here these two are worried about the dog!!! But I’ll have to admit, I was a bit jealous of the lucky dog, who ran away the moment he saw stuck he car.
But what do you know! The moment Bruno heard his name, he appeared out of nowhere. Shit, even I was super surprised, what do you know, he didn’t leave us alone after all. Nice loyal dog, even I’d have to admit that! Good going Brun 😀
The initial plan was that we should reach Matheran so that we can catch sunrise there itself, which didn’t seem quite so bad, especially since Google maps said that it would take 3.5 hrs walking from Neral station. Turns out even GMaps is wrong as right now it was 7am and we’d been walking since 2.30am L One thing we realised was that the trek to Matheran is super splendid during the early morn, rather than night since at least you get to see some of the beauty around, and especially with the rain not letting up at all, it was even better – check out the pics below.
Around 8am we reached the entrance to Matheran or as I like to call it, where Parth got to buy his transparent raincoat-dress for Rs 30. We stopped for breakfast at a small shop along the way, where the coffee tasted better than usual due to the even heavier rainfall than the previous night (if that was even possible). Though Parth was of the opinion that we should take the toy train to reach the market, the consensus was that we should walk, must to the aghast & disappointment on his face! Eventually we found a place to crash for a few hours, (where I had to squeeze out water from the supposedly “dry” shirt I had kept in my bag without any plastic bag since those are banned J – Lavi and me both – Why was I not surprised that Akshay had a plastic bag in his bag pack >:( ) and headed out to check some of the sites at the market.
Since we didn’t plan of staying overnight, we had to leave in a few hours, and the only disappointments we had were that we didn’t get to see Charlotte lake or Echo point – haha I think Lavita and Raj missed these the most!!
So what did I learn from this trip? Quite a few things really…
Don’t wear jeans and don’t wear Woodland either
When in doubt, ask Keer in what he’s planning of carrying and carry the same
Carry lots of chocolates – for the dogs that we’ll encounter