D and I hadn't been to a beach in the longest of times. The last two mini-vacations we took were all to the hills: Ooty in April 2012, Yercaud in September of last year. I went up to the mountains in Sikkim and Bhutan in March 2012 with people from work.
And so, we had been more than eager to escape to a beach. When opportunity presented itself in the form of a friend's wedding reception in Pune, we grabbed it with both hands.
Since Tuesday this week, we have been away from home and routine. After a day in Pune for the reception, we took a cab to Kashid. About four hours drive from Pune, it is a little further away from the famed Alibaug. After settling in, we headed to the beach. The sun was setting and as I gazed into the endless horizon, I was reminded of an unsettling story, albeit one full of faith, about a boy, a storm and a tiger.
The beach was lined with lush green trees that were just starting to wither away into the winter months and some lovely wild flowers and hot pink and orange bougainvillas. The route we took to reach Kashid the day before was as beautiful, with hills on one side, the beach on the other, and wild, colourful growth along the way. The weather wasn't humid as you'd expect it to be near a coast, but cool and breezy.
The morning after we arrived, we decided to get breakfast packed and have it on the beach. After a dip in the ocean, nothing feels better than a greasy omelet sandwich, washed down with a chilled Breezer on a secluded beach.
The beach offered such a contrast. The sun was hot and unforgiving, the breeze a balm on the skin and the water was cool and soothing. If you beat and nudge the sand lightly with your feet, they'll sink in. And the sand just below the ground was soft and cool and it felt beautiful! I think I might have stood like that forever.
In afternoon, we headed to Jaljeera fort, colloquialised to Janjeera fort. To get there, we passed through the quaint little sea-villages of Nandgaon and Murud. Once there, you have to take a sail boat to this island fort. You have to wait till the boat is full in capacity of about 30 people. You are allowed to buy tickets only after there are a guaranteed 30 people for the ride. It was a hot afternoon and we were getting baked. But it was a lovely experience!
The fort covers 22 acres of area. As is the case with most historical places in India, our group had a guide who walked us through the fort, pointing out things of importance for us, talking to us about the glory of the past. He reprimanded us for not raising any questions, as a teacher would to a student. These guides, working all across the country for a meagre salary and remuneration they get in the form of tips from travellers, are the true keepers of history.
We went to the local Chowpatty to see the sun set that evening and planned to take an early morning walk along the beach the nest morning. I think we wanted to make the most of the two odd days we were here.
As we normally do, D and I romanticised about living a beautiful, slow-paced life...maybe somewhere in the hills or somewhere along the coast. I know we'd be too busy trying to make ends meet to play tourist! But maybe somewhere there is a piece of land far away from the city, in some place close to nature, with my name of it. I just need to keep looking.
PS: We leave for home in a bit. I was carrying my laptop since I had about a half a day's worth work to do. And I knew if I waited to get home before putting this down, it might never happen.