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Basking in the sun without sun-lotion was the last thing they wanted as partners in jollity, Gasha Aeri and the Honda Jazz X, who hit the Mandwa beach for some more action
Photography Sanjay Raikar

I admit stars define their own path and thus the course of events in one’s life. Every shooting star falls where destiny wants to take you. And mine fell somewhere over Pune. How else would you describe the way things have fallen in line for someone living miles away for the mermaids’ song to reach. However, it didn’t stop me from contemplating the serene sight of a sunset over the breakers and foam at the shoreline of a beach. I got to visit one. What’s more, in the company of my partner in jollity, the Honda Jazz X. Kayaking, jet ski, banana boat…. the list of things I wanted to do was long. The first week-end of last month was to be the day of this outing and the place Alibag!
About 150 km of lovely open roads and ghat take you to Alibag, the famous seaside resort town and headquarters of Raigad district in Maharashtra. The normal route for someone starting from Pune would be the Pune-Mumbai Expressway, later taking the Khopoli exit towards Alibag via Pen. However, we decided to make the journey even more interesting by going via Mulshi with a brief sing-along through the Tamhini ghat to reach Kolad. The next step was to take the NH 17 until Wadkhal and then a final left towards Alibag, a distance of 180 kilometres. The route was a bit longer, but splendid enough both for the Jazz and yours truly. It was a treat for our eyes to admire the scarlet-red Jazz X against the green foliage and the blue of the lake we crossed on our way. This called for numerous photo-ops too.
Our preparation for the outing was, as usual, meticulous. This meant a number of bags and sacks. The Jazz’s cavernous boot proved its usefulness once again, taking in all the luggage we dumped inside without grumbling! Tamhini was full of similar looking tourist vehicles and family cars with kids hanging out of the window. The Jazz looked like a refreshing change among all those. We lowered our windows to welcome the  breeze coming over the hills and turned the music off to listen to the song of nature.


 

The road from Wadkhal to Alibag was, however, a test of endurance both for our bodies and the Jazz. As the sun came up and droplets of sweat began appearing on our foreheads, we sang paeans of praises for Honda for such effective air-conditioning in the car.
After reaching Alibag and then the new Mandwa jetty, we were handed over to the joyful and amicable waves of the beach by our friends from Pioneer Adventure Sports. The rain had just stopped, so the day was shiny and waves were small. Since the tourist season had just begun after the roars of monsoon, the beach was absolutely empty except for the Jazz X and the remains of a shipwrecked container on one side.
Even the onlookers were surprised to see us take out one bag after another to put a fine show of the excessive preparation we had come with and how the seats of a regular looking car could fold into a dance floor was something they could tell their kids a story about.
Wearing a life-jacket shooed away my aqua phobia for some time and I was all ready to kiss the salt of the sea. Where jet skis tore away the waves from the middle and slapped me on the chest of the sea, the kayaks were a test of my own strength and skill against the waves, which were consistently trying to push me to the shore. The jet skis were powered by 1,200-cc and 1,500-cc engines and they flew like magic carpets on water. The Jazz had her share of fun by trying to catch up with them on wet sand!
After hills, tracks, highways and city roads, driving something on water was a very different feeling, where waves are the only traffic. However, instead of the traditional way, you must accelerate just when you hit one. Kayaks were more about cutting the wave at 90 degrees and then smoothly sailing when water accepted your presence. Banana boats were good enough to hold milk before the ride to get milk-shakes at the end of it! No wonder, trainers recommend you to have light food before coming for a ride. The rides are pretty safe and a trainer generally accompanies you unless you want to challenge the sea alone.
Ferry rides from the Gateway of India to the Mandwa beach are frequent during peak season and aren’t very heavy on the pocket too. But if you wish to kick-start the fun and are in a hurry to make it to the beach, speedboats can also be hired. A speedboat with the capacity of 13-14 people would charge Rs 6,000 for a 15-minute ride from the Gateway to the beach.
When Jazz could no more take standing ashore and merely looking at the fun, it was time for us to head back. Changing from our clothes full of sand, salt, shivers and smiles we dusted the beach off our shoulders and got dressed to tell the tales of the day to those who waited.
The route back was rather simple and uneventful, if we don’t count bad roads and maddening traffic, that is. The road was a narrow two-lane state highway (SH 87) and cows claiming the road after some careless grazing was a common sight. From Alibag we reached Pen and after driving through the town, took a turn towards Khopoli to meet the Mumbai-Pune Expressway. After this, the journey was all about toll booths, dodging over-loaded trucks, sharp curves and sleepy hills.
I am in a quandary as to how to end this travelogue, as I know how much I don’t want it to end. I think this should serve: “You can bring me back from sea, but you can’t take the sea back from me!” Needless to say, I’ll be back and with my Jazz!

Pioneer
Adventure Sports
Whom to meet:    Mr Prafful Pendurkar
Contact Details:    +91-9850303031
Rides offered:      Kayaking, jet ski, banana
boats, parasailing, boating,
fishing, island trips
Cost of each ride:   Rs 300 (for approx two km)
Group packages:    Rs 1,000 (includes five rides)
Best time to visit:    December to February
How to visit:          Two hours 15 min
(by road from Pune)
45 min (ferry boat from the
Gateway of India, Mumbai)
15 min (speedboat from the
Gateway of India)

CAPTIONS:
1. The boot is cavernous and all alright, but no that banana boat didn’t come out of it
2.“Beach is supposedly bigger than this, right?” wonders our poor never-been-to-a-beach-before Delhiite!
3.If pictures could talk, then this one would tell the tale of numerous topples before this Jack Sparrow without a hat (and a tiny Black Pearl) pose
4.Rowing the kayak how I wished I was on my way to Alaska, to be ‘Into The Wild’. Being my own Alexander Supertramp
5.Came Tamhini ghat and the Jazz showed what it means to have a name like that
6.“The next song be from my iphone”
“No, from my pendrive!”
And the current playlist was repeated till the end of eternity

 

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