October 16, 2008

Of Forgotten Portuguese Settlements and Secluded Beaches

The Alibagh trip was sudden and without any proper planning and therefore beset with confusions. When I landed up at India Gate dreamy eyed and still thinking it’s only a dream, A tells me “arre you are coming with us?” Well, I was supposed to. Wasn’t I? “Et tu Brute!!!”

Anyway to cut a long confused story short and completely ignoring the treasury and i-banker ditchers, 2 consultants, a project financer and a soap seller got up on top of a very shady looking boat. When the boat was in mid sea, it transpired that yours truly was the most proficient swimmer of them all. Under such circumstances, lives flash before your eyes, people turn philosophical and so the consults began to crib about the black holes in their lives, the financer wanted some financial aid herself and me, the perennially stripped of cash individual, wondered whether to eat the Bourbon first or whether to eat the cake.

See when your whole life is like a lost boat in a deep sea (imagine a long sigh) seas in real life do not make you unnerved. What matters is that who amongst the four is carrying the food.

The boat ride was spectacular. You could see the helicopters flying out to Bombay High. You could also pray when a HUGE ship decided that it had the right of the way. Somehow because of so many ships and smaller boats I could not see the light play on the waves. That always makes me feel happy.

When we landed at Alibagh and had unbelievably bad South Indian food in a Maharashtrian hotel, we decided to hit the beach. The consults had come equipped with a well defined plan of action. But like most consulting projects, the on ground realities were slightly different. Take for example, the first beach that we visited. Instead of being the golden sands we saw a stone pathway giving you the feel of Marine Drive.

But then what differentiates a good consult from a bad one is improvisation. So plans were soon made and we took a speed boat to Kolaba Fort. Though we did not find any Royal Bathrooms (I love seeing Royal Bathrooms. “Please see Sir on your right. This is where Shah Jahan came first thing in the morning”) we did find a potential source of Hepatitis A for Shivaji’s soldiers. And then we moved to the walls that surrounded the fort and we could see the entire expanse of sea beneath us. We stood on the same spot as soldiers of yesteryear stood and kept a look out at the vast sea. I could sense them look at the mast of a ship coming up the horizon and alerting the sentinels at the ground. The shells on the rocks were the best I have ever seen. Untouched by human interference, the sea gulls nested amongst the rocks as the sea brought them gifts from her depth.

We moved on to a lovely secluded beach and the sea was calm. The sun shone heavily but the waters cooled my feet. It was as if I had come all the way to the world’s best swimming pool. After a good dip, we decided we had only a few options. After all, we were hard pressed for time. In a matter of moments, we decided to search for the Portuguese ruins of which no one seemed to know. As we went along, it felt as if we were on a wild goose chase and then suddenly there was a huge broken down wall and on it was written the words – Jesuit Monastery.

As we walked around the wooden fence suddenly things started happening like it’s shown is Zee Horror Show. There was a strange gentleman who stopped on the way and asked if we were looking for something. He took us off the beaten track and led us to a tunnel beneath those walls. The tunnel was as deep as the caves beneath Gotham City and as fearsome as the caves of the forge that made the One Ring.

I went a step in and something flapped its wings. Maybe it was the effect of reading Brisingr late into the night but at that point of time, I lost my senses. The darkness gripped my conscious and I struggled out. Everything looked out of this world, unreal to say the least.

The man left as abruptly as he had come; giving us directions to the watchtower. We walked for a few minutes and then came out into an opening with a once majestic Watchtower, broken down palaces and a look out point for any signs of the British attacking. These were the ruins of the losers in the race for colonial supremacy and history and the locals had forgotten them

The travel back was uneventful except that when Gateway stared at me it seemed more regal than ever before. It seemed like the mark of the victor on the visage of India.

Edit: In Para 1 you might get confused as the soul of alec smart did. It's Gateway. I'm always confused between the two. Has been happening since they shifted the capital from Cal to Delhi. So let it remain as it is. But Thanks :)


The Soul of Alec Smart said...

You had me confused there! You mean the Gateway of India and not the India Gate in the first paragraph don't you?

Madhurjya (Banjo) said...

@ Neha - Absolutely. Thanks for the tip

Consultant whose name starts with A said...

Banjo...how dare you not mention about your 4 soulmates...
for all others reading this comment, the day passed as follows:

Banjo was supposed to hold place for 2 of his friends (consultant and project financier) on the boat to Mandva and so he hoards 5 seats...but gives up all of them immediately on seeing these 4 pretty faces on the boat...no prizes for guessing that they all sat down next to banjo on the boat...
and these "soulmates" then follow banjo to the maharashtrian hotel (where we had horrible idlies), to the sand-less beach, to the Kolaba fort and also to the Nangaon beach!!! and he expects us to assume this as coincidence!

Madhurjya (Banjo) said...

@ A - I was just being nice by letting the women sit down. And coincidences happen :)