Well the trek was over. So were the prayers at the temple of the Lord. But the adventure was far from over.
Since the trek was long, we had two options. Either stay at the village and trek down the next morning or return by public transport. Since we wanted to rest a day before the next working week started we decided to take a bus back home. We were all famished and really hungry. But the buses back were very few. We had really trekked quite far. The time taken for a direct bus to Mumbai was also around 8 hours. And we had missed the direct bus. Now we had two options
One is travel to pune and take one of the buses to Mumbai. There are buses between these two cities every fifteen minutes.
The second option was to get off at a place on the way and then take a connecting bus to Mumbai. There were two such places which were fairly important towns on the journey and there was a high likelihood of getting transportation to Mumbai. MAnchar was one and the other was Chakan. The local shopkeepers advised us to get off at Chakan as the chances of getting transportation to Mumbai was better.
We got into a state transport bus bound for Pune. We were really hungry but we skipped our meal as the next bus was not in the next hour and a half at least. WE thought there would be some food available on the way. We finished our stock of biscuits and boarded the bus to Pune.We were to get off at Chakan. One of our friends got off at Manchar (on the way to Chakan) as it was more convenient for him to return home to Kalyan from here. The bus journey was very bumpy. Though the roads were good (this place is really in the interiors and the roads tend to be not so good here), the bus could belong to any museum and it was a memorable journey all the way.
At Chakan when we got off, the ST stand was nowhere in sight. Well when we found it, we learnt that there were no buses to Mumbai at this time of the day. We were stuck. And extremely hungry too.........We decided to take care of the hunger pangs first and then address the issue of return transport. Worst case we would have to stay in a hotel in this small town. Our credit cards would come in handy then (None of us were carrying that much cash!)
Food was also difficult to come by. There were no clean restaurants there too. It is very funny. When we trek we enjoy tea and snacks at joints which are just makeshift, forget the hygiene. But when we are in a town we expect lot of cleanliness. I guess its something to do with the environment. If the air is clean anything goes, thats the real hygiene factor.
We decided to have whatever we could get our hands on.We found a joint which sold "chinese" food. Well this chinese food found in interior India is really spicy and is very much unlike true Chinese. And he didnt have much on the menu either. Just a couple of preparations, which we had to gobble us because of lack of choice.
I was very tired and this time I forgot to request the chef to make the chinese without the MSG. I realised it when they served us the food. I was scared. The interdialysis weight gain really goes haywire with that chemical.Also it puts a lot more pressure on the already failing kidneys.
But I was really famished and quietly had the food that was dished out. We were already thinking of how to make our way back to Mumbai. The restaurant guy told us about a junction where we could get jeeps and "other" transportion to Mumbai.
We went there.
The jeeps are 7 seater vehicles (SUVs) and they were travelling to Mumbai to pick up the morning newspapers for sale in Chakan. The going rate was around 90 rupees for a ride to Mumbai. They were planning to have 11 passengers plus the driver in the 7 seater vehicle. Even cattle are treated in a better manner. Maybe because they would have protested this kind of treatment. But humans take it lying down. I could not imagine myself shoved into the vehicle and spending around 5 hours to Mumbai when all my limbs were aching. I would rather spend the night in a hotel and return the next morning.
We looked for the "other" transport. We were also exploring the option of travelling to Talegaon from where Mumbai buses were supposedly "more frequent"
A young lad came to me and asked me where I wanted to travel to Mumbai. I replied in the affirmative and he led us to a tempo which was carrying milk to be delivered to Mumbai households early the next morning. He said he would charge 80 rupees. We were to sit next to the driver and travel to Mumbai. We were told that there was one more passenger who would get off soon. Till then we would have to adjust and thereafter it would only be the driver and us in his cabin. We took the offer.
When we actually sat we realised that the other person was to get off at NewMumbai which was roughly 20 minutes away from Mumbai and the lad who alked us into the deal was also going to be around for the whole journey. We were too tired to even think of getting off the bus, so we stayed put. One of our friends decidd to stay back with relatives in Chakan, so it was two of us, the driver, the lad and the other gentleman in the drivers cabin. It was a lesson learnt in capacity utilisation.
We reached Mumbai after several halts. My friend got off at Andheri as he lives in the western suburbs. The driver promised to drop me home. We reached Sion after several halts. Delivering crates of packaged milk everywhere. I enquired with the driver how long he would take to reach my area and he coolly said at least a couple of hours. It was already 230 am and I paid him off and made my way home.
Home Sweet home!!
I reached at 3 am, had a shower, put on the ac and slept off.
Lots of satisfaction, some lessons and an unseen smile on me..........