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Neeraj & me did Pune Mumbai Pune last weeKend, Check

Following Note on the Journey Written by Neeraj Bhusare

It has been a while I along with a close friend(Pankaj – a passionate cyclist) have been planning for a journey that would last for our lifetime – A journey that would allow us to explore the world, that would give us an opportunity to experience new things, new challenges, meet people, explore unknown places and at the end – that would change out perspective about life . As it goes for all the journeys, the start(the first few steps)is more important. Unless you start, you are not going to end. So we started the journey with a smaller expedition from Pune to Mumbai.
We as a team feel that expeditions don’t need to be planned till the end. Of course planning is a crucial step, but then to an extend its good and the rest should be left for surprises…So the first journey we decided was not at all planned. It was decided in a matter of few minutes and in another few hours we were on wheels…
We started the journey around 6AM from Pankaj’s residence in Pune/Kharadi. I had no cycle, so we cycled double seat till Salis’s(buddy cyclist) and picked up his Merida. The weather was quiet good and inspite of not sleeping for the whole night, we were quiet comfortable. We decided to cycle as long as we can and then take our first stop for breakfast. So after cycling for an hour we were quiet hungry and decided to take a break. After a bit of searching, we found a good “South Indian” hotel(Pankaj prefers South Indian food for some unknown reason) . Ordered some idli wada and Masala dosa. But then we encountered our first experience of our journey, right there in the hotel – After appreciating the waiter for his prompt service, he replied with a sad low voice that it doesn’t matter him much, since he had never liked working out there, serving people and washing dishes – It was the circumstance that had pushed him into it and if given an opportunity, would like to leave it and do something that he likes.. That was indeed sad, but unfortunately we couldn’t do anything other than paying him a bit of extra money. Then we left, hoping someday the boy would get an opportunity to do something that he liked.
Got back on wheels and decided to cycle for another 40+ KM, take some good snaps along the way and then take a break at Lonavala for Lunch. The weather was still quiet good and we were picking up speed. It is quiet a different feeling when people look at you in a surprised manner – It makes you feel a bit strange, as if you were aliens with a strange helmet on our head and trying to do something strange….
One the way we came across quiet good moments. The first was – “Lord Ganpati’s” statue mounted on a tall mountain and people climbing in a que. to the top. We were at quiet a distance and it seemed like colorful dots along the way to the top…This was the only place I had seed where there was no temple, but a statue at the top of a mountain – A really big statue, worth watching.
On the way we crossed a school and it was quiet nice to see Pankaj mingle with the school kids. They were quiet amazed and seemed inspired. Extra excited to get a place in the pics. It reminded us about the school days and how exciting it was. This moment almost washed away the weariness and pumped in new energy…
Then along the way, we crossed a very well known Dhaba – Toni Daa Dhaba… At first we were hesitant to stop, but then we saw few cages and some strange birds in there, and we almost got pulled away. This gave us an opportunity to see a bird commonly know by the name – “emu”. Its a beautiful creature and quiet tall – Almost reached my height. We grabbed this opportunity to take some pictures. I kept taking more pictures and in the meanwhile Pankaj went on with his routine work that he does on every pit stop – find something to drink and eat. Here we had the costliest lassi of all time – We later regretted spending 120 Rs on lassi, considering the trip was low budgeted. Along the way we also got a glimpse of Camels..
We got back on our cycles, and in another hour, we reached Lonavala. We were not quiet hungry so decided to keep riding. We also got a glimpse of the Dukes nose – the cliff owes its name to the Duke of Wellington , whose ample nose it resembles. Its a well known spot for rapplers and rock climbers. We also got a glimpse of the express way and an old railway track that passed by…
By the time we left, it was getting hot. Cycling in a hot climate is quiet a challenge. An hour later we decided to take a stop and have lunch. Finding a cheap hotel is quiet a task and after a bit of search we found one. Ordered “Dal and Roti”, took some rest and the left. A bit later it started raining really heavy. We both were carrying our cameras and decided to stop in a shade. Some people standing by asked us about the expedition and suggested to visit the “varadvinayak” Ganpati Temple. It was one of the “AstaVinayak ” temples. The idea of visiting the temple sounded quiet appealing. So we moved towards the temple. Inspite of heavy rains, lot of devotees were there at the temple and it was quiet crowded. We parked the cycles, and entered the temple. Prayed and then sat there for some time. The rain was getting heavier and it seemed like we may have to wait in the temple for another hour. Pankaj took this opportunity to mingle with some kids there and took some really good snaps… Had a cup of tea and then back on wheels…
Cycled for few more hours and we were welcomed by “Navi Mumbai”. Pankaj insisted on cycling few more hours, but then we also had to find a lodge and needed some time for Dinner, so finally we settled down at Panvel as the last stop. It took another hour for us to find a good hotel(that was also cheap – Budget…Budget). We quickly dumped out bags, had a bath and the moved out. A bit of hunt and found a hotel. Had good food and then got back to the Hotel. We had a plan to get a good sleep for few hours, get up by 3 AM and the on wheels by 3:30. Unfortunately it didn’t turn out that way – Whole night we were bitten by misquotes and we could barely get some sleep. Finally managed to get the misquote repellent and then we slept(we were awake till 3AM). Got out of bed by 8AM and back on wheels by 9AM…

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