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Alibag - Redux

Thursday, May 03, 2012
Some observations from a recent trip to good old Alibag.

1) Staying in a slightly more upmarket accommodation can be very very jarring. Given that you always went there during college times/early earning days on shoestring budgets, renting local houses by the beach. 

Which meant 
  • Staying 8-10 in a room. 
  • No AC. No TV. Heck, no electricity too, for the better part of the day.
  • Fixed usal-chappati-rice meals per day. 
  • Bhurji Pav and Gola on the beach, when you felt particularly rich. 
  • One small Sintex tank of water per day for all abolutions. Which would not really suffice for particularly finicky guys who would wash their undies luxuriously, using up half the tank, at the expense of four pungently smelly dudes.
Better amenities somehow seem very incongruous with the experience, given how frequently you would have visited this place if you are a Mumbaikar. Takes a little getting used to, since the rustic charm is very hard to wear off.

2) Getting there by ferry is very very cool - and a very good reminder that Mumbai has a waterway which is a nice thing to behold. With a ferry every half an hour from the Gateway of India to Mandwa, and the ticket price including a (packed) bus ride from Mandwa jetty to Alibag's main bus stand - quite a good way to travel, wot? (Tip - run like Gump as soon as you get down from the ferry at Mandwa jetty, to ensure that you get seats on the said bus.)

3) Even cooler, is feeding some seagulls along the way. 

Now, they start squawking as soon as the  catamaran leaves port - and what they really want, takes quite some figuring out. But married men should have no problem at all here. They need (you guessed it) - Kurkure! Throwing these at them, and watching them pull off stunning mid-air catches kind of makes you feel you are in a National Geographic special. Which is a welcome change from the dreary  waters that we have to cross - and the overall lack of anything to watch - neither port nor starboard-side. Using this Kurkure unit of measurement, Mandwa is roughly a packet and a half (give or take that 20% extra) from the Gateway.

4) Pulling up grandly at a hotel reception in a rickety rickshaw called 'Rani' is one thing you should really do at least once in your lifetime. Beautiful. 

5) The one thing that simply doesn't change is the relentless Alibag heat - which continues to bake you, every chance it gets, irrespective of where you stay. The Alibag tan is really gratis. You get it even if you don't want it.

6) Beaches like Nagaon have moved with the times - from exactly two stalls - [one gola, one Bhurji Pav] to a virtually endless line of shops selling everything from Ronaldo and Stone Cold tees, to Maggi, cigarettes, Chaines food and of course, Kurkure.

7) The sunsets are still as gorgeous as ever.

8) There are water sports options available now. You do wish the waters were a little more inviting though. Or maybe, the adventure is in tolerating that nice, itchy feeling after braving said waters. 

9) Glimpses of the good life now include a family of four with dog, hopping on to a private yacht with uniformed staff waiting with cold towels and beer on-board, at Mandwa. Making people who yelled at them for 'breaking the line' for the ferry back to Mumbai look really intelligent.

On one of those budget trips of yore, a classmate had the nerve to ask the Gola guy whether he used mineral water in his preparations. Which had kind of become a running joke hounding him all his life. Till now that is, when I broke it to him that he WILL find it now in Alibag. Easily.

posted by Tapan at 7:53 PM