"Stop being such an eccentric loner and start living life again!" the woman on the other end of the line reprimanded me.
"Huh?" was all I could respond, rubbing my eyes as I was still half asleep. It took me all of my strength just to answer that early morning phone call.
"Seriously, u Kim," she continued. "Today is Saturday, are you really going to spend the whole day just watching TV shows at your sad lonely apartment again?"
"Like I said, that's my plan for today…" I replied.
"No way. You need to start getting out more. At least get some fresh air. You can't just cut off the rest of the world because you broke up. We're on our way to your house," she said and hung up without even waiting for a reply.
Ahhh. Good old Esther. She and her boyfriend Thara had been really looking out for me. I was just about done with a hot shower when Esther, Sawma and Grace reached my apartment. It was indeed a rare occasion for me to receive guests on a Saturday morning :D
We talked and they finally convinced me to go out. We decided to go to Lion's Point at Lonavala, as I had never been there before. It is a famous tourist destination around 80 KM from Pune and although they had been there a couple of times, they were more than eager to show me the place for the first time. We booked a cab and left.
They even bought beer for me too, haha. Early morning beer, it was definitely going to be an interesting day.
On the way, we made a surprise stop at Ethel's place, asking them to join us. Ethel couldn't come with us because she had already made an appointment that afternoon. Andrew was excited and ready to join us, but one sharp dagger look from Ethel and he suddenly remembered he was busy and wouldn't be able to join us, lewlz.
Zami too was unable to come, complaining of stomach cramps due to her period. She asked us to stand on her back to relieve her pain. No way was she going to make it for the trip, and even if she did, all she would be doing was to put everybody's mood down, so it was best to stand on her back for some time and go without her.
Perhaps we were having too much fun? :D
So finally, Puia and Gosi joined us from Ethel's place and our group was on our way to Lion's Point. Woohooooo! :) Breezers for the road. We hooked up our phones to the car's music system too and blasted Mizo oldies songs, much to the amusement (or perhaps irritation) of the cab driver.
We passed the grand looking Symbiosis Skills & Open University (SSOU) situated right next to the Mumbai-Pune Expressway.
My phone was able to capture moving objects quite well. All hail the almighty Oneplus phone :P
SSOU looked truly magnificent from the expressway. The other Symbiosis buildings scattered across Pune pale compared to this.
A collection of luxurious looking apartments below.
I googled immediately and found out the above apartments are called "Belmondo", developed by reputed builders - The Lodha group. Have I mentioned before that I was once stranded in Bandra late at night during a heavy #MumbaiRains session with no auto or taxi in sight, and a very nice gentleman gave me a lift. He was an executive at Lodha.
We also passed the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium on our right, home of the Rising Pune Supergiants, not that I follow cricket.
Soon we started ascending to the great Western Ghats. Traffic was extremely thin for a Saturday. Maybe because we were early…
Our cab driver was amazing. He stopped the car at this point and told us this had a best view for scenic photography.
He was right. We could see the vast plains below and the hairpin bends climbing towards us (which reminded me of my Alma Mater Montfort School situated on the sprawling Shevaroy Hills of Yercaud).
He told us that many people come to watch the sunset from this location and this entire stretch of road would be packed by evening.
But then of course the sunset from Lion's Point would be even more breathtaking, and so we continued with our journey. Meanwhile Gosi was busy taking pictures and selfies, and we forgot about her and almost left her behind by mistake. :D
We passed through the main Lonavala township area, where traffic was a bit slow for some time.
On our right is the beautiful Lonavala Lake. But of course they are hidden by those pillar structures because I have no sense of photography.
Aaaaaand we reached! Super excited all of us were. It took us around 2 hours to get here from KP (3 hours actually, but we spent around an hour at Ethel's place). A group selfie to announce our arrival, lolz.
We parked at the designated area and started exploring the place on foot. The whole area was a long narrow plateau. The empty spaces that you can see below were all filled up with vehicles by evening as many folks came to watch the sunset too.
Here is me clicking a picture of this famous landmark hill that you'll see in most photographs tagged with "Lion's Point" on Google image search. I tried my best to exclude all the thrash and rubbish that were lying on the slope. Sad.
Man, that is one mountain I really wanna trek up to one of these days.
As it was still early, most of the stalls were empty. There were many makeshift snack joints around the place, with tables and chairs placed adjacent to it and one of their employees, probably the most junior one, beckoning tourists to sit at their tables. Pretty much like the Baga beach stalls of Goa :D
There were empty carnival rides for children like a mini merry-go-round and one of those manually controlled "giant wheels". They even had camel rides, which excited Puia immediately :D
We trekked up to the main viewpoint, which was around 15-20 minutes' walk. We could have taken the cab but we decided to enjoy the surroundings with a slow promenade.
Almost there now. This area also had a couple of food stalls for customers. All the food stalls served only snacks and junk food, there were no proper restaurant serving rice meal etc. or even if there was, it wasn't open yet.
The Happies :)
Awesooome view. You can see Lonavala Lake in the far distance below (click on any image to enlarge and open on a new tab).
That same hill again :)
Very "riangs" photo. As the wise saying in Mizo goes, "Ka lo îp hmanlo hi chu a va pawi ve awwww!"
Before you judge me for wearing just an inner vest, that's an H&M vest :P Glad to know my friends from Kolkata will finally be able to shop at H&M in Kolkata soon as they are opening a new chain there. Nice.
Here's another good spot where a lot of people took photos.
We kept walking till the area where we were allowed. The place looked quite dangerous.
What surprised me was, there was not a single law enforcement person around. Some people even climbed over the barricaded bars and took photos at the extreme edge of the precipice! Well, I guess Darwin's Law could be applied here.
Us law-abiding citizens took pics only at the limit where we were legally allowed to.
Esther and Sawma with their "Please take a photo for my Facebook profile update" poses.
As you can see above, they weren't standing very close to the edge because that was like a steep 1000 feet drop below. No wonder there were no wine shops around among the food shacks area, or else there would be a lot of people daring to step closer to the edge.
We slowly moved our way up towards the commercial area… And of course it was selfie time for Gosi again…
More selfies… :D
Meanwhile, Puia had moved from his interest on the camels to this Quad bike. How quickly affections could change :D
Esther and Sawma were busy trying to take each other's picture-perfect profile-worthy pics.
And if you're thinking where Grace is all this time, here she is, braving the edge of Lion's Point with a sweet pose.
I have no idea what the plan was here, but looks like Gosi was being told to be or not to be, based on the perspective of Sawma the photographer.
We finally headed back towards the parking area as sunset time was soon approaching. We had a lot of fun along the way. Here's a frame by frame capture of my friends jumping up in joy.
Back at the parking area, we finally succumbed to the many vendors asking us to sit at their food stalls. Like I said earlier, they served only snacks, which we didn't mind.
But yeah, it was a different kinda experience seeing so many cows roaming right next to us :D
We ordered a good dose of freshly prepared hot kanda bhaji (onion pakoda), batata bhaji (potato pakoda) and cheese pakodas. The cheese pakodas were surprisingly awesome and they melted right in our mouths.
As sunset was fast approaching, the entire place was filled up with people, mainly large families with lots of pesky children running everywhere.
I didn't take a photo of the crowd, but it was YUGE. The biggest crowd ever. Bigger than Obama's inauguration crowd. And so we asked our cab driver if we could still make it to the other point we stopped at on our way.
He said he wasn't sure, but the crowd would definitely be thinner there. And so we decided to take a chance and raced against time.
Move, move, move…
Faster, faster, driverji!
I blasted the song "Chase the sun" by Planet Funk all along the way, and it was the perfect song to play. If you want to relive those days again, you can listen to it here.
Esther too was busy trying to capture the sunset from our moving cab. But of course, her pics couldn't match my Oneplus' quality :P
"Hang onnnn Sun, wait for usssss!"
The sun's reflection glistering from Lavasa lake was truly spectacular…
"Going once… going twice… going thr…"
Aaaaand this was the last photo I took as the sun vanished from our eyes :(
Sad that we couldn't make it to the viewpoint in time. But overall, it was an awesome experience, and my friends told me it's an even better place to visit during the monsoon. So this is something I definitely don't mind doing again.
A big thanks to Esther and the others for showing me a great time. Definitely much better than just sitting at home watching TV shows alone and pouting. We headed back to my apartment and woke up Thara. Poor guy had a night shift so he couldn't come with us. Instead, like a good boyfriend, he slept at my place and waited for Esther to return. They all left after that.
A wonderful experience indeed.
Until my next update, cheers everyone.