Pune -> Sinhgad -> Pune -> Lavasa -> Ajanta -> Ellora -> Aurangabad ->Mumbai
Continued from here
Mumbai – Day 3
Somewhere amidst the late night conversations, Punit and Neetu decided to join us for lunch the next day while we planned to stroll around the older areas of South Mumbai in the morning. Little did we know or dare to expect that they’d actually show us more of the city. Especially to people they’d just met the previous day. We were completely blown over by their sweetness.
We, however, decided to take it slow and only left lazily taking our own time in the morning. We took a taxi first to the Asiatic library which I’d been aching to visit with my love for libraries, but unfortunately, we couldn’t enter as it was a national holiday and therefore closed.
Its pristine white exteriors however made for a bunch of pretty pictures. We had been asked to check out Horniman’s park (the name one just couldn’t say without an immature giggle). Just as we got there, Neetu called us to give the location for lunch that day. It was called “Status Veg Restaurant” and it had a large number of chairs outside as we had to wait to be called in a queue! The chatter quickly let us pass the time and we were soon called in for a delicious Gujarati thali, our only complaint with it being it was a LOT of food. There was no way we would have ever discovered the place ourselves as tourists and were glad yet again for our gracious hosts.
We huddled into a taxi,very full, and me barely able to move and next went to the Afghan Church, built by the British to commemorate the loss of lives in the First Afghan War. Neetu had apparently come to the place twice before and wasn’t able to enter in so we were just third time lucky when the caretaker looked at us suspiciously but still allowed us in. The church had stunning stained glass art all over its windows. It was a place of worship just the way I liked to visit one ie., when it’s empty. We spent quite some time walking around the church and Anand, of course, was in photo-clicking-heaven.
Our next stop was Ban Ganga, yet another place we doubt we’d find on a tourist list. It was a stepped pond like in a lot of temples except for the legend stating that it was formed by an arrow Lakshman shot at the ground to get water for his brother Ram that led the Ganga river to spurt forth there, hence Ban-ganga-> Arrow-Ganga. The Walkeshwar temple also had the legend that Ram created a Shiv Ling in mud and therefore Valuka-Ishwar= Sand-Ishwar. It was a nice spot to be in the early evening. There were storks and plenty of swans. All around the temple people were living in tiny homes and going about their lives. We had kids jumping into the pond for instant fun and respite from the heat and us just blissfully staring into nothingness.
Some rest later we decided to end the day at the promising ‘Hanging Gardens‘ at Malabar Hill. The rains decided to please Anand and showered liberally. It was all the more a reason to sit down and relax in the ‘Senior’s corner’ with conversations ranging from school pranks to punishments. Once the rain abated we walked around the park and even got to the view of the Arabian Sea at sunset, which is quite the highlight of the place. What caught my childish fancy was the shoe house and for the life of me, I couldn’t then remember the rhyme that mentioned it. I had to look it up later.We had a nice walk around the place with intermittent drizzles that made the weather join in our fun.
“There was an old woman who lived in a shoe.
She had so many children, she didn’t know what to do;
She gave them some broth without any bread;
Then whipped them all soundly and put them to bed.”
We next went to the unassumingly named place called “The Tea center” near Churchgate. I first thought it was closed seeing the closed shutters facing us, but turned out the entrance was still open via the front of the building beside the shutters. Yet another of the numerous instances, having someone who knew the place helped! We had to wait for some time as the place was full. We all did like the ambience of the place that had slightly old world charm with some tongue-in-cheek posters helping retain a quirky feel to it. The waiters were running all over the place and we made our orders.
Anand, forever the weird-item-ordering person at a table, ordered the “Hot buttered apple tea”, Punit some ginger lime tea for his cold, one Kashmiri Kahwa, and I ordered the Rose tea. Anand’s order was a favourite with the guys. The Kahwa I found too overpowering with the spices, and the Rose tea that I finally drank was still too sweet for my liking but the only one among our orders I liked otherwise. Despite our likes or dislikes, it was fun to try the various options . Since we still had dinner plans, we only ordered the potato wedges that were not what we expected. Anand and I still promised to return to the place the next time we were in the city.
After that, our hosts continued our culinary adventure and decided to take us for a perfect Marathi meal at “Aaswad“. Anand completely pigged out on the roti made of ragi and I enjoyed a little bit of everything especially the kokum drink. Our hosts clearly knew their food, and our tongues and tummies were both extremely happy while also letting us tick “delicious Maharashtrian food” off the list of things to do.
The newly formed group chatted on effortlessly and we even managed pics with the first statue I actually loved, at the Worli sea face promenade- that of the common man from RK Laxman’s cartoons who calmly overlooks the water. We were left extremely grateful for their brilliant company and all mushy at the feeling of having made good friends in record time 🙂
Last day :
We woke early to reach Navi Mumbai by cab but landed there in just 40 mins since it was a Saturday! We visited Bhavya’s and Lout’s beautiful house and met Lout’s oh-so-lovely mum. After a heavy breakfast of the yummiest cheese omelette I’ve ever had, thanks to Bhavya, and many other snacks Aunty had made, we headed off to cover the route from Mumbai back to Pune with people who had covered the route 100s of times in the past couple of years! They showed us around Navi Mumbai itself first, which was a lovely planned city without the crowd and traffic so inherent to Mumbai. Seeing a view of a waterfall as one goes on a highway is always pleasant too. After the picturesque road from Mumbai, we also passed by Lonavla where we picked some mandatory chikkis of various types.
Our first stop was the house of the pretty twins Pari and Piya who were beyond thrilled to see Bhavya and Lout after long. They used to live in the same apartment complex that has a beautiful view of the surrounding hills. After a short while there we headed to the Oxford Golf Resorts where it quickly became clear why it was their favourite place. Beautiful views of the scenic surroundings, pleasant weather, greenery and no one around. I couldn’t imagine a more lovely place to spend with a loved one or just by oneself lost in one’s thoughts. A few pictures later, we were ravenous and headed to the ‘Blue Nile restaurant’ with the promise of lovely biriyani and it did hold up. Bhavya and I shared a biriyani while the boys managed to clean off one each on their own. Finally gratified we left to Kalpa’s house. Kalpa was Bhavya’s beautiful friend and could give anyone a complex with her stunning painting skills too. Just as we relaxed in her house, we met few more friends of theirs and then her sister’s fiance. Kalpa gushed about how she had a nice time trying the new Harley that morning and we shuffled along to see it. It belonged to her sister’s fiance’s friend and he was still generous enough to let all of us have a go at it! An unexpected high right at the end of the trip for all of us and I can’t forget the gleeful grin pasted on Anand’s face throughout! As we fussed over the bike and took turns, Lout- the perpetual pro, managed to make yummy chaat for us too.
With us being so close to the flight takeoff time we had to reluctantly leave the bike behind, plunk a couple of the yummy puris into our mouths and rush to the airport right in time, yet again thanks to Lout.
Bhavya and we had different flights a few minutes apart and we landed only to be warmly welcomed by 3 of her sisters who had come to pick us up. Our fun didn’t seem to end. We headed off to Empire near our house for a super late dinner at 12 30am filled with laughter and conversation and were then dropped off at our home all smiles at a lovely end to a lovely journey. 🙂