Konkan in the rains !

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September 19th 2021
Published: September 19th 2021
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After 18 months of no vacation and stuck at home in Pune, India, we (make that as I !) really wanted to travel. Perhaps it was revenge travel but I was hell bent on going to nearby beaches, even though the weather was not perfect and neither the roads. Had booked a simple home stay in Dapoli for a July trip but due to incessant rains this year, had to put that on hold. When the weather opened up a bit in September, made concrete plans. It helped the the kid's school also gave a long weekend for Ganesh Chaturthi.

The weather again became bad and the forecast on the planned days was all wet and rainy days. But we didn't want to postpone and went ahead. We took the Mulshi-Tamini Ghat route after weighing other options. We drove down and really enjoyed being outside. It was also exciting to drive in the rains and clouds, with visibility of less than half a kilometer. Yes, some stretches of roads were really bad with only potholes but I would say 80% was very good. Good thing was construction of cement road was continuing even in this weather.

We reached Dapoli and had hot lunch waiting for us even though it was the first day of Ganapati celebrations. The room itself was not so great but it was by the sea and had large garden to sit all through the day if we were not going anywhere. First day itself we went to the beach and enjoyed being in water after 3 years. It is a different matter that after an hour, it rained like crazy and that was our only dip in the sea waters ! .

Rest of the 3 days that we were there, we visited all the nearby attractions and ate at local home run joints. Anjarle beach, Kadyavarche Ganapati, Kelshi, Harnai Port, Panhalekaji Caves, Chandika Devi temple, Dabhol jetty, were some of the places that we saw in spite of weather. Good part was it never rained continuously, it was only intermittent and never more than 15 minutes. Loved the drive, the local people and local foods !

A particular incident during out visit to Dabhol with a detour to Panhalekaji Caves, was interesting in many ways. I have put together below on that situation, relating it to our day to day corporate life. We were stuck in a remote village for a few hours as another vehicle had broken down and blocked the narrow road. We were not in a code red situation but just inconvenienced as we had a small risk of not having enough fuel to return back the same way. The entire village rallied around to make us comfortable and everything worked out well with the help of locals - petrol, a lift up the hills and food (the only eatery was not serving that day). These people see hardships every day but still, live life to the fullest and are ready to help others, at the drop of a hat. Unwilling to take any money for their help, their philosophy is simple - if they help anyone today, someone else might help them when they are in need. Full story attached. Happy reading if interested.

It Takes a Village

I recently witnessed the popular corporate jargon β€œLet’s get the entire village together” in real life; the term is typically used to rally required experts across the nook and corner of an organisation, for situations like a must-win sales pursuit or when a team is working on a complex solution in an unchartered technology etc.

We were on an enthralling monsoon vacation on the western Maharashtra coast driving from one town to another. That day we started from Dapoli and were going to Dabhol, with a detour to a neglected historic site (Panhalekaji Caves) which has 3rd century Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain inscriptions. The detour road was hardly a road but a narrow dirt path; nevertheless, we chugged along as it was a downhill ride.

At a small village, less than 2 km from the caves, a group of people stopped us and told us that the road ahead was blocked from the morning as a truck had broken down and someone had gone to fetch a mechanic from Dapoli. It would take a few hours for the road to be cleared.

We were weighing all our options, including returning to the main road from where we had taken the detour. The village locals had also offered to drive our car back uphill on the dirt road as we were not used to such roads. There was a small problem though, we were running out of petrol ! At Dapoli, none of the petrol stations was stocked when we went to fill in the morning, but we didn’t worry about it then, as we had thought we could manage till Dabhol.

We started discussing with the local people and they said near the Caves, there was a home-run groceries shore cum Dhaba (restaurant) that usually sells petrol too. Walking 2 km downhill was easy but uphill would have been back-breaking. They gave a solution for that too. The groceries store has a vehicle that can give a lift back to, where we were stuck. (We had explored if anyone had a 2-wheeler, but none had that day).

Initially, only I wanted to go and fetch the petrol, but Kavita suggested to consider this as an unplanned adventure to trek to the caves, for which we had originally come. The kids were also keen to see the caves as we were not sure if the road would get cleared. So, the 4 of us trekked down the slopes for 30 minutes with rain and sunshine playing hide and seek. All through, we were praying for petrol, a vehicle to take us back and food, in that order !

We saw the caves quickly and went searching for the store/Dhaba, which was another kilometer away. We promptly asked for the 3 things that we had come for. First 2, check. They were not serving food as the 10-day Ganapati festive celebrations were ongoing. We ate few fruits and cereal bars that we had and were happy that we got petrol and a vehicle to take us back.

We got back to the spot, to see that mechanics were there to repair the broken-down truck. While we waited for them to complete, the locals asked if we had food at the Dhaba. When we said no but were fine as we had fruits and cereal bars, one of the locals (Aniket) said he will check for lunch options. He went away and in a matter of minutes, came back to offer that we each lunch at his place. We politely declined but he said he had spoken to the women of the house, and they insisted we eat at their place.

Initially feeling a bit awkward with strangers, we anyway sat down for lunch. They made us feel completely at home talking about themselves, their village, and its issues. They had offered us bottled water when they had drinking water scarcity. None of them had lunch yet but fed us from what they had prepared for themselves, forcing even second helpings on us ! Their simple food of course tasted delicious with fresh spices and their hospitality.

After lunch, we spoke for some more time and exchanged phone nos etc. The blocked vehicle was now out of the way, and it was time to leave. Between Kavita and I, we were thinking about how to show our appreciation for what they had done today, going out of their way, and treating us like family. We offered them money to gift a saree for the 75-year-old grandmother of the family. But they had none of that and only said Today it was their turn to help someone in need, tomorrow they might get help from someone, when in need.

Literally, the entire village of Gavan wadi, a remote hamlet in the mountains,came to support us. Not that we were in a dire situation or something but as city slickers, we are used to fretting for every small thing. These people see hardships every day but still, live life to the fullest and are ready to help others, at the drop of a hat. The driver who dropped us had also refused to take money for giving us the lift. Even the petrol that we bought was also not exorbitantly overpriced, it was just nominally higher to meet their transport and storage costs.

All in all, a big learning in humility, being positive and doing good karma !

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20th September 2021

20th September 2021


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