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Monday, March 14, 2005

Trekking to Mahuli

Mataji Travels - The Minutes of the Meeting
Date: 12th-13th March 2005
Mataji Tour Operator: Ivan (Henceforth referred to as TO)
Mataji Members: Dhanoo, Ashish, Nitin, Rama, Manesh and Shikha
Destination: Mataji’s Mahuli

Ashish has a book on trekking that gives us our first BIG tip about our experiece-to-be: ‘When you reach Mahuli yell Mataji and this amazingly benevolent lady will emerge from the shrine and see to your food at no cost.’ We are impressed by this pearl of wisdom and vow to yell Mataji at every temple from Asangaon to Mahuli.

7.06: Ashish and Dhanoo on the other side of the tracks, we are waiting for the local train at VT Station. The boys discover I am not carrying the booze and nor is anyone else. Hopes pinned on Ashish on the other side.

7.08 : Ashish yells, “Arrey mahuli mein wineshop rahega” - dammit it!! (Will there be booze available at Mahuli?)

7.20 : We all manage to grab space together. Chap selling tiny torches for 10 bucks, which actually work. Manesh wallows in self-pity the rest of the way - his 90 buck (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) torch has conked out. Muahahah.

9.30 : Asangaon Ahoy! TO wants us to walk along the tracks. We want to follow the road. For once TO is right. We are impressed with his immense knowledge.

9.50 : We come to a signboard where (in 10 foot letters) is marked the way to the Jain temple. Which will lead us to Mataji. We point out same to TO and are reprimanded. “I KNOW THE WAY OKAY!!” We follow him, TO asks every truck driver in sight the way. We are sent back to the Signboard. Our faith in TO is visibly shattered.

10.30 : The Temple of the Gods We see the flashy Jain temple (with Bhojanale). We scoff at this gaudy display of luxury and excess - we move on.

11.30 : We have reached a temple, no one in sight. We manage to find an inhospitable old lady trying her best to ignore us in an adjoining hut. She is not the real thing. We are disappointed. Apparently Mataji is in Hawaii and this lady shows no signs of benevolence or free food.

12.00 : We eat buttered potatoes and burnt to a crisp mushrooms not to mention Cup Noodles!!

12.50 : No body is snoring coz no body is sleeping. And just when we do fall asleep we are awoken by a strange scampering near the wicket gate. Ashish and Manesh on either end are the first targets so the rest of us aren’t too worried.

7.00 am : The trek to begin! TO does a detailed reconnaissance – “We have three points, where do you want to go?” Our faith is reinstated.

9.30 : Dead tired but the view is kickass. Dhanoo low on sugar and not feeling well so we decided to call it quits, the top isn’t far but still. TO most upset, in his “30 years of service” he has ALWAYS reached his destination. We remind him the last time he was here he only made it to the stream near the station. He points out huffily that THAT was the destination.

9.30 : We start heading down, we are worried about Nitin’s mental state - he smells rice.

11.00 We are back! We pray to the absconding mataji for an auto. It is bloody hot and we cannot trek the 15 kms to the station.

12.20am : Hallelujah! Our prayers are answered - We sight an auto. – Jai Mataji!

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