Mumbai Memoir 47- Resolutions & the City!
At the start of each year, everyone thinks of preparing a fresh checklist of New Year resolutions. Mumbai merrily witnesses the resolutions of its citizens. Few typical resolutions of an average Mumbai’kar being, ‘to sleep early, ‘to quit smoking’, ‘getting into shape by dieting & exercising regularly’, ‘thinking about entrepreneurship to avoid long train commutes’, ‘pursuing a relationship or ending a dysfunctional one’, ‘saving for a long planned vacation’ etc. The list seems endless. The kind of resolutions every city nurtures, reflects the life style of its citizen.
My personal list of resolutions is based on a broad canvas. Besides my career and other resolutions, the prime focus of this year’s resolution aims to include travel, writing and research. Since long, I have been working on a historical novel. Currently the novel is still in its research phase. The research is heading with snail-pace due to my hectic work schedules, but I make it a point to work on it as and when I can. The historical novel is set in the backdrop of colonial India and tells the story of a kidnapped Maratha princess who is rescued by a French East India Company soldier. Eventually she explores French culture and companionship in one of the French colony of India. The story is about her experiences at her own palace, the changing socio-political condition of princely India with the arrival of British and the French colonists and the evolution of her womanhood. I wish to write it in English and get it translated in Marathi and French language. May the book serve to be a ‘cultural ambassador’ that showcases Marathi, British & the French culture that prevailed during colonial India. My novel writing mentor has highly recommended me to see few palaces of India, particularly where Maratha culture reflects on its premise. He also has instructed me to visit Pondicherry in Tamil Nadu, which was once a French colony. This according to him, would help me visualize and meticulously articulate plots of my historical novel. Thus one of my resolution this year would be travelling to Baroda (now renamed as Vadodara in Gujrat state of India) to see the Gaekwad Palace, owned by one of the richest princely state family in colonial India, that had Maratha origin. Here’s a glimpse into the palace premise: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7PnepYyoNU . Besides this, another tourist destination visit on my resolution list is Pondicherry (near Chennai), which I believe will help me visualize the Indo-French culture that was practiced there. Here’s a link to virtually visit Pondicherry: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mW_Jbe1nLXs
Talking about travel, recently I accomplished a resolution which was made long back! Bike rides always fascinates me. Since my teenage, I wanted to ride solo to a place 100 Kilometers away from Mumbai via the sea-route. I always dreamt of taking up the unique route of loading my scooter into the ferry service that takes tourists (cutting the waters of the Arabian Sea) to a port and from there one can go by road to a tourist place called Alibag.
Thus determined to accomplish my long pending resolution, a fortnight ago, I booked tickets of the 9am ferry service from Ferry Wharf (locally referred as ‘Bhau Cha Dhakka), situated at the docks end of Sandhurst Road train station. Per adult ticket is Rs.73 only (one way) and if you are with a two-wheeler then an added rent of Rs.150 has to be given (one way) to the owner of the boat. Before entering the boat one has to do Police department related paperwork if one is carrying one’s two-wheeler along. Thus its highly recommended to reach half an hour earlier than the boat timings to execute the formalities. Once on the boat, it takes approximately 1 hour 15 mins to reach a place called ‘Rewas’, which is a port surrounded by mangroves. The calm ambiance that surrounds the port surely has the potential to sooth the senses of over-stressed Mumbai’kars who crave for moments of tranquillity. As I scootered along the long jetty, I experienced a flashback of my childhood days when I use to visit my aunt’s place at Murud-Janjira via the same route. This was the first time I was exploring the same route on my two-wheeler till Alibag.
Alibag is a coastal town which has historical relevance. During the Maratha King Shivaji’s rule and beyond, Alibag served to be a strong naval base for the Maratha rule. The ‘Kulaba’ fort, is situated on an island off the Alibag beach. During high tide one has to take a boat ride to reach the fort, and during low tide one can walk up (1-2 Kms) to the fort!!! Rewas to Alibag distance is 21 Kilometers. As I explored the vicinity around Alibag I found out that the town has been home to many Bene Isreali Community members who settled there even before the onset of the 19th century! A synagogue named ‘Magen Avot’ built there in 1840, was still functional till recent years! Infact, as per popular belief, a rich Bene Israeli Jew named ‘Ali’ owned huge acres of orchards. Thus the town got it’s name ‘Alibaag’ (‘Baag’ means Orchard in Marathi language)!
Being a History fan, all this information was satisfying my brain’s appetite till noon.
But the stomach was growling for actual food after noon. Coastal food is the speciality in most of the restaurants in Alibag. So for lunch I had fish and chicken ‘thali’ (package lunch dish), which was economically offered by a local restaurant at mere Rs.150.
A writing session and a walk at the Alibag beach followed thereafter. As I saw the sun setting on the horizon, I realized I had to be at Rewas port before the ferry service shuts down for the day.
I bid Alibag good bye and reached Rewas before 6.45pm (timing of the day’s last ferry service facility). As the ferry left the Rewas port at dusk, it was a ‘Yahoo’ moment for me as I could feel the sense of accomplishment of executing a long planned resolution, of a solo travel to Alibag on my bike!
It’s a great feeling when one fulfils a resolution. I strongly believe, it doesn’t matter if one’s resolution gets fulfilled or not, but atleast one should have some positive resolutions to keep one motivated and upbeat & thereby hopefully trust life’s strange ways of helping us fulfil our wildest of dreams!
Photo credits: Shraddha C. Sankulkar & Free Internet downloads.