‘Today we shall go for a trek!’
I raised my eyebrows, and she immediately took that as an insult and scowled at me, and I rapidly lowered them.
‘I WANT COFF COFF...’ I waited for her to complete the sentence, but she only made a sound like a truck grinding its gears. After a second she continued. ‘I W ANT COFF COFF’ and again stopped.
‘Coffee?’ You want coffee?’
She just glared at me. ‘I WANT to go on a trek...coff coff. Cough cough’ Oh, she was coughing, and that frightening sound was her clearing her clogged throat.
‘Dude...you are not well...you are sounding like Ajit instead of Mona darling, and coughing away like a machine gun.’
‘Er...I mean...do you think that its a good idea to go for trek in the rain when you are down with a cold?’
‘tchah.’ She said. ‘Watch this.’ And she took a big breath, and growled ‘OK, all you germs...GET OUT!!!!’
And I swear, I could almost see all the germs, viruses and microbes rushing out of her body in sheer terror.
‘OK, let’s go.’
‘!@$#%@%%#(@ You STUPID SON OF A BLIND BAT! STAY IN YOUR LANE!!! @$$%&& GET OUT OF MY LANE YOU SLOWCOACH!!! #%$%*@#@ BLOODY ROAD HOG...WHO GAVE YOU A LICENSE??? #&*#!#^@@ TURN OFF YOUR BLINKERS YOU FOOL....’
This was me cursing at the traffic on the Expressway, because all the other drivers seemed to have taken an advanced degree in moronry with an additional elective of idiocy.
‘Dude...dont get so upset.’ SHE said to me. ‘You should be calm like me.’
‘Eh? Calm like who?’
‘Like me. Unflappable. Ice cold. In control of your self.’
‘Eh? Yesterday when the birds came and chirped at the window you cursed and threw things at them. One bird had a heart attack and died of fear when you glared at it. The dhobi still quivers and pees in his pants because you shouted at him for bringing the clothes late...and...’
‘Oh shut up. Be calm like me. See, once we get on the trek how calm and energised I will be. Everyone should trek in the Sahyadris in the rains. Everyone.’
‘@##@*@$T#@# THESE STUPID MORONS. #@$#@&~ HOW DID THEY DARE TO COME ON THE SAME MOUNTAINSIDE AS ME?’
Unfortunately for She-who-must-be-obeyed, it seemed that the whole of Mumbai and Pune had listened to her and decided to go trekking. SHE had chosen Tikona fort as our first trek destination this year because it was easy to reach and an easy climb, but it seemed that so had everyone else. There were vehicles lined up all over that narrow road, and huge crowds of first time trekkers caused traffic jams up the fort, and were making noise and generally disturbing the peace. It was like being at Dadar station in the rain. I was astounded, I had not seen crowds like this here ever.
‘@$^7#@ STUPID MANNERLESS BUMPKINS...MORONS...JAYWALKERS...HAYSEEDS....’ she was mumbling away.
‘Hey ...what about being unflappable and ice cold?’ I reminded her, but she only glared at me.
The weather was nice, it rained and soaked us, the mountain was green and the Pawna lake below looked wonderful. Tikona is a lovely little fort, with a lot of nice little sites – the entry gateway, the maruti bas relief, the water tanks, the Vitandeshwar temple on top, etc. It is part of the chain of fort in the Maval area – Tung, Lohgad, Visapur, etc. Its a very ancient fort – with traces before 07 AD – which makes it more than 2000 years old. It has changed hands many times over the centuries – the Nizamshah, Shivaji, mughals, Marathas, and then British. But by the end, warfare itself had changed, and Pax Brittanica made warfare obsolete and so all the forts became relegated to relic level. During the rains, it is a lovely place.
The only problem was the hordes of people. As the poet Heber puts it
‘Though every prospect pleases/ and only man is vile’
No go, he said – a bus has managed to get itself bogged in the mud and is completely blocking the road. Nobody is going anywhere until that bus moves.
I went to see, and sure enough – this idiot of a buswala had managed to get completely stuck and block the road so totally and even a two wheeler couldnt pass. The whole population of the bus had got behind it and was pushing and the bus engine was making groaning noises as it tried to climb out.
What was going on?
I got out of the car and went to the bus, and it was just sitting there glumly. No driver, no pushers, no gawking crowds. What happened? Everyone seemed to have lost their mojo. I noticed a tractor stuck in the mud next to the bus.
‘Oh we couldn’t push the bus out.’
‘So we called a tractor to pull the bus’
‘Then the tractor also got stuck in the mud.’
‘Eh? What kind of tractor gets stuck in mud? Who’s this incompetent tractor operator?’
That guy got a bit stung. ‘I am the tractor operator. I can’t get the tractor out because there is a car blocking my path.’
‘So push the car away’
‘No...it’s locked, put in reverse gear and locked with hand brake.’
‘Oh...’ We all looked at the car. One another guy got all agitated. ‘Let’s pick up the car and move it!’ he said. He was a bit drunk.
‘Pick it up? How?’
‘Arre...there are so many people here...just pick it up.’ He went to the car and pushed with all his might. He went purple, but the c ar obviously wouldn’t move.
‘Dude...you can’t pick up a car. If you try it, the bumpers will break off.’
‘Who cares man...it’s not our car! Who told that stupid prick to park it like that?’ and soon there was an animated discussion on whether it was possible or not. Finally it was decided that it was not possible.
‘Then let us break the windows!’ the fellow said in frustration. ‘Someone give me a stone!’ he held out his hand dramatically. No one gave him anything. He just stood there with his hand out for a bit and then put it down embarrassed.
Everyone was just milling around doing nothing. I looked at the sky – luckily it wasn’t raining, and it was still daylight. I wouldn’t want to be here and in this situation in pouring rain and in darkness. Both could happen soon. And definitely not with such a huge crowd of kids and girls – asking for trouble.
I caught hold of the tractor man. ‘Let’s pull out your tractor by hand.’
‘But how...’ he said
‘You have a cable attached. We will pull that, and some guys will push from behind. Your engine is very powerful, and just needs a little bit of help.’
We got a group of people together who pushed and pulled, and the tractor guy revved away and revved away and BOOM – he back on the road! Everyone cheered! YAYYYYYYYY
But the bus had moved a bit, and we were all heartened. The bus driver got in and started the bus engine, the tractor guy re-tied the rope, a couple of friends came to help him, and the drunk guy got a bunch of people to help push the bus.
VROOOOM VROOOM.....DUM LAGAAKE HAISHAAAAA.....VROOOOOM VROOOOM......DUM LAGAKE HAAAAAISHAAAAAA.......VROOOOOOOOOOOM VROOOOOOOM
Quickly the bus moved out of the way and we moved out of there and didn’t stop till we hit the expressway!
‘So aren’t you happy?’ I asked She-who-must-be-obeyed. ‘the trek was a bummer, but at least you got a bit of excitement at the end.’
‘Oh shut up and drive.’