As of yesterday, the plan was to trek to Shindola. The plan was to be at Kalyan station by seven in the morning, six forty five if I could make it. Normally, I use Bart's technique for waking up early, and it has never failed me. Drink like a litre of water just before you go to sleep, you are bound to wake up in time for whatever you have to do. There is no food at home, so I think I will eat from someone once we reach, and go to sleep. I wake up at around three thirty in the night because the alarm starts ringing. I stop it, but don't reset the alarm. Then I go back to sleep. And I dream. I dream that every single person I know is holed up in a single large house, and crazy things keep happening (a recurring theme in my dreams for some reason), like me clicking studio quality photos from a Nokia 6600 with a touchscreen kind of an interface and a software that feels like pictomio. Anyway, I drowsily pocket the phone only to realise that its six o clock already, and I have missed my train and the trek. I appreciate how warm my blanket it, how soft the cot is, and think of going back to sleep. Unfortunately, other thoughts come in the way. Either I stay at home and do nothing, or I trek. I can go out later in the day with friends... maybe. Right now nothing is stopping me from sleeping. So I close my eyes. Then it hits me... I cannot smoke! Suddenly, I just need to smoke for some reason, so I get up, grab my cam, throw on a shirt and leave the house. I have a cup of tea, a few drags of cancer, and I head over to Thane station with no clear destination in mind. Somewhere on the way, I weigh my options. There is really no place to head to on my own except Panvel, so I go there. There are a whole bunch of trekking places you can go to from Panvel I figure, and get down at Sanpada, buy tickets, and the next thing I know, I am at the Panvel ST bus depot. I consider Karnala, but that's for sissies. I consider a few other places, then something from a few treks back strikes me. The trek to Kalavantin. I went there enticed by photos like this from this site.
And I thought I would get snaps like that if I tagged along. Turns out that I didn't. That is the view of Kalavantin from Prabalgad, that is the place we went to, but the entire spiral staircase was not visible from any point of the trek. So what the hell I think, I will go and take such photos from Prabalgad. So I get onto the Thakurvadi bus, when it comes. Some fellow with an ektara also boards. Half an hour later, we are at the base, and I start walking.
A little way to the top, I exchange news with a villiager. He tells me that a group has gone up ahead, that they are stopping a lot and climbing, and that I will bump into them. I tell him that I am from Thane and that I am alone. We go our ways. The way up is refreshing. I remember particular spots where things happened the last time I was here. Also, since I am alone, I hear a lot of things, I hear birds calling, I hear lizards moving through the grass, and if I stop and rest, even bees rustling the dry grass. Soon enough, I pass the lot, a bunch of slickers sitting down and posing next to an outcrop of rock. We would have done that if we were in a group, but as an outsider it seems rather odd. A little more to the top I see three uncles and a young boy sitting on a plateu where the prabal villiage is located, just below the pinnacle.
A strange villiager's boy is scared of me, and I cannot pacify him because I don't have a chocolate (his father begs me for one). Point to be noted: always carry chocolates for the children of villiagers.
I reach the villiage, and ask if there is anything to eat at the place we ate the last time we were there. There is nothing. I am feeling a little hungry, but I move on. I go one way, then rethink, come back, and meet the three uncles I just saw. Get into a conversation with them, join their group, and reach till the base of the kalavantin pinnacle. They want to go to Prabalgad, I want to go to Prabalgad, but neither of us knows the way. They make a few calls, get thoroughly confused, and head up to Kalavantin. I take my leave, and try to find my own way to Prabalgad. Now I hug the mountain, and try to find a path. There are cactuses growing all over the place, outcrops of rock that I have to go beneath, and some places where I can just place a single shoe. This twenty minutes of walking was where I almost gave up, it was hell, and I told myself that I would not come BACK this way no matter what happened. Then suddenly, I saw my passport back, the path I was on met a proper path mid-way, and a path lead away from the left, towards the villiage. From there it was easy climbing work, and an hour later, I was on the top. All the way my stomach was filled with the visions of the photos I could take from the top. Once I got there, I met a father and a son, who generously shared their chapatis and potato bhaji with me. Right then, there was nothing in the world that I was in need of - not even a smoke. They left after a while, leaving the whole place to myself. I took my photos, marred, no doubt by all the people standing around kalavantin. But what the hell, it was fun, and I saw the mountain breathe. Before I knew it, I was home with tired legs and clothes drenched through and through with sweat.
And oh, it drizzled a few times, and the sun behaved like a gentleman.