The powerful and intense vibrations of the Western Ghats has always mesmerised me, since I took my first trip from Bombay to Pune a few years ago. Nestled in the lap of the Sahyadri mountain range, lies the twin cities of Khandala and Lonavla. Like the usual routine of a tourist I did my bit of buying Chiki and fudge from Lonavala, little did I know that this would be my home in a few years and herein you get the best chocolate fudge in the whole wide world. Now looking back at that day, it seems to me that there was a premonition, a little thought flying through my brain, a little sigh escaped my lips to see the sheer beauty of this landscape surrounded by the majestic Sahyadri.
I am crazy for mountains. As a child my father would ask me, “What do you prefer, the sea or the mountains?” I never faltered, no matter how much the caress of the waves lured me, the silent solitude of the mountain inescapably sounded a chord in my heart and in my being which I could not ignore.
No the mountains it had to be. My father smiled, I think the mountains may also be his favourite, he seems that type of a man.
So after the crazy lifestyle of Bombay, I escape to Khandala! I love Bombay, make no mistake about that. I found Myself in that city. I stared at the abyss, the abyss stared back, as promised! I returned to civilization a changed person.
I found the man I love in Bombay, I found my interests in that city. Being rocked to death in the buses or being squeezed like a lemon in the locals, all in all it was a tremendous time of learning and developing. I did my best to adapt as I moved around, whether as an Instructor of Drama for children for Rael Padamsee, or to work as Concept Developer in Miditech in Sakinaka(at that time I was living in Colaba)!
Walking on Marine Drive, seeing the tempestuous sea, I felt strangely at home. I have seen the sea in many places, but never have I seen such bipolar behaviour as the sea face in Bombay.
One day the sea will be all bright, the skies all blue, the Sun is up, that very afternoon, thunder, lighting and rain clouds will gather- the sky will be a slate grey or pitch black, the rain thunders down, but only for a brief moment. You run helter skelter to guard against it(especially people like me who do not carry umbrellas), but then as suddenly as it came, the rain stops. The sky is clear again, I step out into the wet road, the only proof that it did in fact rain and I did not imagine it and I look up. No clouds, none at all! Just clear blue skies!
The Bombay sea and the Bombay skies are bipolar!
Aghori Vimalananda, the Guru of Author Robert Svoboda, had said that Bombay is cursed, the very islands are CURSED, its water is CURSED, the food is cursed! I read all three books hoping some proof will be provided in support of this statement, but found no more elaboration. But something rings true to my ears- Bombay has a curse, what it is, I do not know! I seek to discover more on this, so if I do, I will keep you posted, as of now, nothing else can be said.
I may in fact have managed to escape this curse. I have been allowed to leave Bombay. I live about a couple of hours away, in this once-quaint hill-station, now destroyed by construction sites, but still it is nothing like the vast abyss of Bombay. It is still small, still quiet and the villages still drink country liquor and pass out by 9.30. Everything is quiet from about 7 in the evening. For us nightbirds from Bombay, it is perfect!
We can go out investigating, we can identify interesting spots, watch the stars above and breathe the clean, oxygenated air. Yes for once the skies are clean, not over cloudy like Bombay. You can actually see the familiar celestial objects.
We climb to the top of hillocks and listen to the sounds of the night. It’s a meditation- I see the sounds come to life, yes, the sounds of the night become entities that take on an anthropomorphized Persona. My imagination begins to run rampant.
Did I tell you that I always got in trouble at school because of my imagination! My parents had to hear the same thing- She has a very vivid imagination and it was implied to be pejorative. Little did my teachers know that this imagination will come in handy when you gaze at the stars in the sky and visualize the sounds of the Night coming to life lying in the bosom of the wild Sahyadri mountain range.
The air emanates different smells which take me back to different stored memories in the hard-disk of my mind! Sometimes when I walk on the dew at dawn, I am transported to my childhood standing in front of my grandfather, two dogs- one black and one white with reddish patches were running near me and I was smiling. My grandfather, holding his ears does situps as punishment from me, for not being able to answer some silly question of mine, which I presume, he purposely did not answer to as he knew how important it made me feel to punish him. It was just a shift of power I enjoyed. Yes human is indeed motivated by will to power unless they have ascertained the Higher Truths. Don’t judge me as a sadist, let’s move on!
So yes Khandala bathed in mist is a little magical kingdom. It is my home and place of rest. It resonates with very sacred vibrations- of Bhagawan Dattatreya, Sant Tukaram and Maharaj Swami Samarth.
I share my home with many cats and a dog, so I do not fail to pay obeisance to Lord Dattatreya whose home is the Sahyadri, just like mine. Growing up in Bengal I did not know Lord Datta. His presence is stronger this side of the country. I love him and I love the mountains that surround me.
When I return from Bombay, the sight of the silent, dependable Sahyadri fills my being with peace, bliss and tranquillity. I just want to run into the darkness and lose myself, my ego, my personality, the masks I wear, my entire being! I want to rediscover my true identity and the Sahyadri helps me, a little every day.